The Road to Recovery?

Wed, April 22nd, 2020

Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive of Liverpool Chamber:

This week has felt like one of relative consolidation and reflection for many organisations following the frenetic and frantic efforts across the previous few weeks to understand and access government support.

This does not mean we are in any way complacent or comfortable with the situation and there are clearly many businesses who remain in difficulties.

The job retention scheme was launched by HMRC this week and appears to be working well. The delivery of cash to claiming businesses within six working days will ultimately be the deciding principle about whether the retention scheme is judged a success. It is a lifeline for many businesses and employees.

We still hear of difficulties with the CBILS interruption loan scheme but understand that approvals are increasing and a new FAQ document has been produced to assist applicants (and lenders) in maximising the scheme’s ability to pump prime cash into ailing businesses.

The gaps within the support announced remain challenging. The business rates relief scheme has been critically important for those eligible businesses but sadly lacking the desirable coverage of a large proportion of affected businesses. Whilst we, along with other associations, continue to provide evidence and case studies to support the extension of support to those excluded, we are beginning to turn some attention to the key question: “what’s next?”
Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working with the national Chambers of Commerce and partner organisations here in the City Region to begin our economic recovery programme.

The importance of co-creating economic solutions by business at this time cannot be understated. The interruption – perhaps permanently – of ‘business as usual’ is likely to be a catalyst for big changes in how society and the economy functions. There will be considerable challenges for businesses across multiple sectors in both the ‘restart’ on day one and their rebuilding and recovery stages through the medium term.

The Chamber of Commerce will be working with members and businesses to collect the views and market intelligence to help inform these recovery plans at ground level and in the political sphere. Gaining clarity from government around restart is going to be essential and a phased approach is inevitable. The unintended consequences of the recovery phase will require careful consideration as will the opportunity to reshape how we do things – whether in the realms of business support, local procurement, supply chain management, risk tolerance or lending.

Whilst we remain in a period of deep uncertainty and challenge, the potential road to recovery will soon commence. It’s key that we take the opportunity to emerge in the position to deliver a strong, diverse and vibrant economy. The role of business within its creation and delivery is fundamental and imperative.

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