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Small firms in England hope for end to ‘chopping and changing’ COVID restrictions

The economic recovery of the UK hinges on the Chancellor being pro-business in his spring statement, said the Federation of Small Businesses chair Mike Cherry.

Small firms in England hope for end to ‘chopping and changing’ COVID restrictions
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As the country gets ready to lift all COVID restrictions, Mike Cherry said he hopes the government will consider the impacts of the “chopping and changing” of regulations on small business and recognise its importance in rebuilding the economy.

“Our economic recovery is still fragile. Firms now find themselves bracing for an April flashpoint when a regressive jobs tax hike is set to take effect alongside a grab on dividend income, fresh business rates bills, a rise in the living wage and the end of residual Covid support measures such as a lower rate of VAT for hospitality,” Mr Cherry said.

“While scrapping the increase in NICs would be a huge relief, increasing the Employment Allowance by a quarter, to £5,000, would go some way to offset the worst of the pain for small employers.”

Mr Cherry said small firms across England will be hoping that this week marks the end of changing restrictions that have blighted them over the past two years.

“Lockdowns have proved devastating for our small businesses. The priority now must be containing the virus and protecting community wellbeing whilst avoiding the need to shut down the economy entirely,” he said.  

“The need for business support with regards to the pandemic will not disappear when restrictions do; containing this virus is clearly still a priority. Small firms should not be out of pocket when they support staff who are unwell. That’s why we’re urging the Government to expand and make permanent the existing statutory sick pay rebate for small businesses.”

Mr Cherry said it was important access to testing is still maintained for when people feel ill, and the infrastructure surrounding it should not be immediately discarded, so that it can be deployed when new variants appear.

“Government should also be assessing the effectiveness of its existing Covid business support schemes ensuring that, if needed in the future, they are sufficient, widespread and quickly distributed,” he said.

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