Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have urged the Government to increase support for firms to get them through the devastation of the latest lockdown.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has also called for the vaccine roll-out programme to be ramped up after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest lockdown was coming into force on January 5.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “These are extremely worrying times for everyone, and businesses which have just returned from the Christmas break will be extremely concerned by these new lockdown measures.
“As businesses, we understand the need to put health first and we have repeated that message from day one of the crisis but we also know that for our economy to eventually recover, firms must be given as much support as possible to get through this.
“We would, therefore, strongly urge the Government to announce a new package of realistic support for businesses which addresses the serious cash flow issues so many are experiencing.
“While the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April is welcome, covering the ongoing costs of fixed overheads is still a huge challenge. Urgent support is needed so they can get through to the end of the crisis and help the UK restart, rebuild and renew as quickly as possible.
“The Chamber of Commerce network within the West Midlands have called on the Chancellor to back our businesses and use the £2 billion in returned Covid cash from major retailers to boost the support desperately needed by the hardest hit firms.
“The roll-out of the vaccine, which began just before Christmas, was seen as beacon of hope and saw business confidence begin to recover.
“That beacon of hope must now become a reality and it’s crucial that the vaccination programme is ramped up in order to see us return to a sense of normality as quickly as possible.
“The support package will be crucial in getting companies through to that time and then, and only then, will they be able to do what they do best and that is to trade, invest and grow.”
British Chambers of Commerce Director General Adam Marshall said: “Businesses will understand why the Prime Minister has felt compelled to act on the spiralling threat to public health, but they will be baffled and disappointed by the fact that he did not announce additional support for affected businesses alongside these new restrictions.
“The lockdowns announced in England and Scotland today are a body blow to our business communities, hard on the heels of lost trade during the festive season and uncertainty linked to the end of the Brexit transition period. Tens of thousands of firms are already in a precarious position, and now face a period of further hardship and difficulty.
“Billions have already been spent helping good firms to survive this unprecedented crisis and to save jobs. These businesses must not be allowed to fail now, when the vaccine rollout provides light at the end of this long tunnel. The financial support for businesses needs to be stepped up in line with the devastating restrictions being placed on them. Otherwise, many of these firms may simply not be there to power our recovery when we emerge once again.
“Enhanced support for businesses, a turbo-charged vaccine rollout, and delivery of existing promises on mass testing must be delivered to enable the UK to restart, rebuild and renew.”