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Combined Authority will support local firms through virus crisis pledges Mayor

30 March 2020

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As thousands of workers across Cambridgeshire & Peterborough face an uncertain future, Mayor James Palmer pledges the Combined Authority will work flat out to support local businesses in their battle to stay afloat and to keep their employees in jobs.

Responding to the online Business Resilience Intelligence survey, launched by the Mayoral Combined Authority last week, over half the companies – 57% - said all their employees have been hit by this unprecedented emergency.

The survey indicates worsening business conditions with supply chains disrupted, customer demand plummeting, and a hunger for guidance about help on offer.

With Government support plans now revealed, a key priority for the Mayoral Combined Authority’s business resilience team is guiding companies towards government wage subsidies for staff who cannot work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The government will pay 80% of their salaries, up to £2,500 per person a month.    Provisions offsetting losses for the self-employed have also been announced.

The challenge now is to ensure businesses and the self-employed know how to tap into allowances for which they may be eligible.  

Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough James Palmer said:

“Business has been knocked for six and employees are desperately anxious. It’s urgent that companies grasp the Government offers and know how to apply when the portals open.  It’s my absolute priority to signpost the process and help them do this quickly and smoothly. Our task is to spell it out, it’s no use just telling people who’re in shock that support is out there, they need step-by-step help to get it.”

Initial survey results report rising disruption in supply and demand.  Now 43% of respondents - up from 37% on March 23 - say they can’t get any or some of the supplies they need for the business. And 82% businesses say there is less demand for their products and services, with 40%  reporting that demand has plummeted to zero, with income collapsing as client businesses close or freeze spending.  

The Mayoral Combined Authority survey also asks companies to flag up what they most need at this stage to help them to weather the crisis. There has been a good response so far but Mayor Palmer wants many more firms to come forward and get their voices heard.

“Thanks to those who have already taken part and shared  but we need  more evidence from more firms. Only you know exactly what you need from the government so I urge businesses, from start-ups and SMEs to big employers, to act before it is too late. Contact us via the link bit.ly/cpcacovid19 and tell us what you want. I’ll take your message to Westminster and get it squarely on the desk of relevant ministers”, said Mayor Palmer.

The trends indicated by the data since March 23 show worsening business conditions, but, worryingly, no significant increase in those accessing support. In fact, responses since March 23 contain an urgent call from business for more clarity and detail on the support available, how to access, and when.

The Mayoral Combined Authority is urging Cambridgeshire & Peterborough businesses to take advantage of the ongoing survey. It aims to collect detail on how the public health crisis is affecting them  - and to collate requests of what they most need from government.  Mayor Palmer and the Combined Authority’s business resilience teams will use early results to set up signposting services to put businesses on track for funds, and to lobby government on their behalf.  

The data coming in will be benchmarked for the foreseeable future to make sure the Mayoral Combined Authority identifies trends that require addressing.                                                                                                

Got a business? Have your say at https://bit.ly/2wOXQh1