Coronavirus Member Update

An update for Forum members

We have been very busy as you can imagine over the last few weeks helping individual members with their issues and problems as well as making sure these and the views of our members are getting back to the people in power in the local and national government, that’s why the member feedback is so important to us at this time!

We held a couple of conference calls with the small business minister Paul Scully to make sure he was up to speed with the issues around furloughing, Loans and grants.

Its good to see grants starting to get through to businesses but the speed of this tends to be patchy depending on the local authorities’ resources and efficiency.

Furloughing is still a worry as it will take a while for that money to get back to business and we have fears about the pressure on the HMRC portal.

The Government Loans scheme is a bit of a shambles, with the lack of a relationship between the big banks and their small business customers, they have replaced relationships with technology and this does not paint a true picture of many of their customers, their needs and the way they operate. As a result, the process to even be considered for a loan is long and time-consuming, particularly if your business is shut down and staff furloughed. If you can get through to your bank and then complete the process the interest rates after the first year can be eye-watering and this whole process needs some work.

We have concerns about owner directors of limited companies, they really aren’t being helped at the moment and we have written specifically to the government about this as well as offering an idea that we think would help matters. Many of these small limited companies carry the greatest overheads and costs, but also offer a lot to the economy when the lockdown is lifted and if we lose them, they will not be coming back.

Small and Micro businesses who operate from serviced offices don’t pay business rates so can’t get the 10k disruption grant and we have been campaigning on their behalf.

We are also speaking to the small business commissioner and the small business minister about the potential problems with late payment, where a month into lockdown, we may see more late payment issues either through mistakes, as a result of finance staff being furloughed or large companies taking advantage of the situation to extend payment times.

There is also the situation facing the Hospitality sector of pubs bars and restaurants, where they have no trade for the foreseeable future, were shut down with little notice and debt runs throughout the industry from top to bottom and interest payments still need to be serviced. We are trying to help where we can and plan some specific action aimed at this sector of the economy which should go live in May.

With that in mind as well as helping as many members as we can get through this crisis, we need to keep another eye on the future, how do we get businesses up and running in the most efficient and effective manner once the lockdown is lifted. So we are launching our “Restore the High street Workbook” full of practical ideas that high street businesses, retail and hospitality can be thinking about putting in place when trading recommences, it’s not a one size fits all solution so not all will work and not all will be suitable for you, but if members can get a couple of good ideas each it will be worthwhile.

The Forum will be looking at producing more of these practical tools, webinars and podcasts over the coming weeks as it’s a good time for many businesses to be analysing their business, looking for opportunities and acting on them during the lockdown.

So if we can be of any help please give us a ring or drop us an email on