New lockdown poses severe challenges for stretched businesses: our governments must act quickly to address them

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

The return to lockdown means further financial and operational pain for businesses across Fife, after what has been the most difficult year most of them have ever faced.  The many firms that are already prohibited from opening  now face the prospect of remaining closed far longer than they hoped.  The companies that can still open have to balance their operational requirements with the shielding, self-isolation and home schooling commitments of many of their employees.  Many of the manufacturing firms that are grappling with these staffing challenges are also still trying to understand what the new rules are for importing from and exporting to the EU.   

Alan Mitchell, Chief Executive of Fife Chamber, said: “The demand of businesses in Fife and the rest of the country is quite simple: get the vaccine rollout up to the level required to end the lockdown and while that is underway give businesses all the financial support they need and provide them with clear guidance on what is expected of them during lockdown and what help will be made available to them to allow them to comply.  The stakes couldn’t be higher: if we allow businesses to fail in what we all hope will be the final few months of widespread covid restrictions, we’ll not economically recover from covid quickly and the virus’s legacy will be even longer lasting and more harmful than it is already.    

“Despite its best intentions, neither the UK or Scottish Government have provided businesses with enough support so far.  Too many self-employed have not received any financial assistance.  Too often funding has arrived too late when it has been made available or it has been woefully insufficient to properly compensate companies for the income they have lost.  Financial support packages are often short-term fixes that don’t allow businesses to forward plan with any confidence.  Official guidance and advice hasn’t always been timely or sufficiently clear.  That must change and it must change now.  The vast majority of our businesses have done the right thing to protect the health of the population and now our governments must do the right thing to protect the health of our businesses, on whose future viability we will all depend.”

You have a voice: use it 

Fife Chamber and its fellow chambers across the country are united in their determination to give you as much direct support as we can and to get you the help you need from politicians.  We have a unique opportunity to advocate on your behalf through the British Chambers of Commerce and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, who have unparalleled access to the most senior decision makers in government.  Those Ministerial meetings are pivotal in shaping the scale and content of the support packages businesses get and the more evidence the BCC and SCC can present, the stronger their argument and the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.  Adam Marshall or Liz Cameron can only tell the Prime Minister or the First Minister what is happening in or to your business if you tell them, so, if you have anything you can share about how your business is being affected by covid, from what financial help you need to where government guidance lacks the clarity you need, please contact us at [email protected] or tell your Fife Chamber Account Manager.  We’re listening and ready to act.