Business owners and managers have been reacting to the news of new measures to help support employees and employers amid the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
On Friday, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an ‘unprecedented’ list of measures to help employees and employers, outlined here. Under the measures, businesses will not have to pay any VAT from now until mid-June and government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month.
The measures came as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered all pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, theatres and cinemas to close in the UK from Friday evening.
In recent days and weeks, some have criticised the government for not providing enough support for businesses and their workers, but the general response to Friday’s announcements seems to have been much more positive.
Managing Director of estate agents Minors & Brady, Jamie Minors told us the announcements demonstrated superb leadership;
“Tonight’s announcement by Boris and Rishi Sunak are monumental. They provide extraordinary measures to prevent damage to our economy, which, after Brexit, was seemingly bouncing across Norwich, London and the country. I spoke to many business owners this week, many of whom were planning redundancies, unpaid leave and various strict processes to hold onto cash. Tonight’s announcement will be the biggest fiscal policy change for perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of years and must’ve taken incredible strength to deliver. Superb leadership, superb delivery and the correct timing.”
Ian Hacon is co-owner of Zaks, a chain of American Diners in and around Norwich. Zaks will be closing its restaurants in line with the new government orders, however, Ian told us he was positive about the measures announced on Friday to support employees and employers;
“We are absolutely delighted that the government has supported workers and businesses in such a robust way. The devil will, of course, be in the detail, But our teams can rest assured tonight that they will continue ot get paid at least 80% of their wages, and we will have sufficient cashflow to manage it. We continue to adapt to how we cope with this crisis on a daily basis but have been humbled by the response we’ve had from our teams, managers and customers.”
The measures have also been largely welcomed by trade unions. Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) described the measures in a tweet as a ‘breakthrough’, saying
“@RishiSunak has shown real leadership. We’re glad he’s listened to unions and taken vital steps to support working families. Employers can now be confident they’ll be able to pay their wage bills. They must urgently reassure staff that their jobs are safe.”
On Twitter, ‘Rishi Sunak for PM’ started trending on Friday evening as members of the public praised the Chancellor for the new measures.
However, some people have still raised concerns about the new measures. Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West tweeted:
New measures have been announced to help the self-employed and freelancers during the COVID-19 outbreak, however, some feel that measures still need to go further.
In a statement on Friday evening, Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonell said he welcomed ‘the Chancellor’s shift in direction’ but said he ‘can and should go further – and we will keep working constructively with Government to ensure the best possible response to the Coronavirus crisis.’
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