The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said most UK firms have furloughed some of their workforce, and are awaiting funds from the Government’s Job Retention Scheme to enable them to pay staff.
The BCC’s weekly tracker found that 66% of survey respondents have furloughed staff in anticipation of scheme going live, while more than half have less than three months cash in reserve.
The Job Retention Scheme will open to applications next week, leaving only a short time for funds to start to reach cash-strapped businesses before April’s payroll is processed.
Business’ cash flow remains an urgent concern, BCC said, with 17% of companies saying they had less than a month’s worth of cash in reserve and 6% saing they had no cash in reserve.
The number of companies able to get loans from the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has increased since last week but still only stands at 2% of respondents.
BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall said: “Businesses on the frontline need cash to start flowing from support schemes fast. With April’s payday coming up, we are fast approaching a crunch point, and both the furlough scheme and CBILS facilities need to be accelerated.
“While we’ve seen a high number of firms furloughing staff in anticipation of the Job Retention Scheme coming online, it is still unclear whether they will start receiving funds before their payroll date, which could exacerbate the cash crisis many businesses are facing.
“It is essential that the Job Retention Scheme makes payments to businesses as soon as possible. Any delay could mean more livelihoods under threat, more business failures, and more hardship in our communities.”
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