It’s been a long time since a budget felt as significant as this one. The announcements today are reassuring, in particular the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September with employers asked to contribute to workers’ salaries from July. As a region heavily reliant on some of the most impacted sectors, including hospitality, this safety net for both businesses and employees is vital. Extending the scheme beyond the anticipated end of restrictions is a move that will give businesses the time to begin recovery and the space to make plans for moving forward.
The announcements of the targeted sector ‘restart’ grants for hospitality and retail are welcome and needed. It remains to be seen if the cash injections will be sufficient to protect some of the hardest hit businesses but a move in this direction is significant and recognises that these sectors have been particularly badly hit by the continued restrictions. Key to this support scheme is the speed with which grants will be delivered to the businesses that so desperately need them. We can’t afford delays. We’ll be advocating for our regional businesses to help ensure these get to those that need them swiftly.
We’re pleased to see the self-employment income support scheme extended to include those who became self-employed during 2019-20. Although late in coming, this announcement will come as a huge relief to many.
Despite the continuing safety net of furlough, unemployment is still a huge concern and we’ll be doubling down in our efforts to support and connect people across Greater Exeter to minimise the impacts that this will have. Exeter Works, a partnership with Exeter City Council and the Chamber is just one initiative that aims to connect employers with job seekers. We’ll also be continuing to support the Kickstart scheme which helps under 25s into employment and the Restart scheme, for those over 25 and unemployed, when it goes live later this year.
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Chair, Exeter Chamber