Following the announcement of the National Economic Recovery Plan 2021, Director of the Small Firms Association (SFA ), Sven Spollen-Behrens has welcomed the plan.
He stated: "The SFA broadly welcomes the Government’s announcement, particularly the commitment to a tapering off of financial support schemes rather than a cliff-edge termination.
"Such supports will continue to play a crucial role for thousands of businesses across the country in the short-term, while the gradual easing of such schemes will enable businesses to more effectively address the staffing challenges over the coming months as the economy and wider society emerge from Covid restrictions.
"The SFA welcomes the extension of the commercial rates waiver in its current form, increased funding for upskilling and further education, particularly in the online space. The announcement of a new Business Resumption Scheme will be good news for small firms with significantly reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions and will allow them the space to reopen.
"However, it must be noted that small businesses will continue to face challenges for a protracted period. Through the National Economic Recovery Plan, the Government has a unique chance to address these challenges, that left unaddressed, will have a devastating effect on the small business economy and lead to a further deterioration in the commercial rental landscape and tighter options for small business to access finance from financial institutions and working capital.
"Small firms are facing an increase in business costs from a rise in the National Minimum Wage (NMW ), investment in new Covid-19 safety controls, along with a raft of new employment legislation, such as the extension of parental leave, a new statutory sick pay scheme and also pension auto enrolment, which will make the recovery period more difficult for businesses trying to get back on their feet.
"It is welcome that the Government has committed to enacting the Small Companies Administrative Rescue Process (examinership lite ) legislation before the summer recess, any lag beyond that time will have a negative effect on many small firms.
"We very much welcome the recent announcement of the Small Business Assistance Scheme for COVID (SBASC ), this scheme will be a lifeline for many non-rateable businesses, but the second stage has still not opened for application, government need to open the application process immediately, for many businesses time is of the essence to allow them to remain trading.
"As we move out of the immediate crisis and into recovery, we would like to see a commitment from Government for a detailed Return to Workplace plan. The ad hoc nature of this phase of the reopening must be addressed urgently to allow business to plan their return and to get the recovery of our business parks and town centres underway", concluded Spollen-Behrens.