Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry responds to Boris Johnson's speech this morning.
He said: “Millions of small firms are having to let staff go, cut back investment and cease hiring after months of disruption.
“Many will be feeling hopeful following the Prime Minister’s intervention today – especially those across England that rely on commuter footfall, host events or conduct face-to-face beauty treatments. But others will worry that the Government is reducing its direction on the unlocking process, in contrast to how it managed the lockdown.
“Small firms are being tasked with consulting employees and putting the right measures in place to ensure a safe return to work. After weeks of little or no income, they will need help – both funding and advice – to make that happen. Small businesses want to do the right thing, and need support to do so.
“Safety and capacity across our transport and childcare networks is critical. So too is a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system – giving businesses the confidence they need to support staff, customers and suppliers.
“New powers for local authorities will need to be used sensibly, enabling policymakers to work closely with surrounding small firms to enact measures, and support, which work for specific areas.
“We need to learn lessons from Leicester, where attempts to access unspent small business grants to help firms in the community were blocked. Authorities must be empowered to access local funds to provide emergency business support.
“The Prime Minister should also recognise that – while most small businesses have been helped by emergency measures – many have not. We need to know how company directors and the newly self-employed, left stranded for more than 100 days, will be supported in future.
“Jobs are being lost. The Job Retention Bonus is welcome but funding from it won’t manifest until next year. Small firms are having to reduce headcounts now. If the Government wants to stem the tide and promote job creation, it needs to look at reducing the upfront costs of employment, starting with employer national insurance contributions.”