Northamptonshire's businesses join calls for more Government help during Covid-19 crisis

"It is clear the full impact on the job market is yet to come," warns Chamber of Commerce CEO
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Northamptonshire's businesses fear the worst is still to come as the Covid-19 crisis continues to impact on the local economy.

And the county's Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than a third of the workforce in Northamptonshire, is calling on the Governement to step in to help struggling firms keep going.

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Latest figures this week showed the number of workers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has more than doubled in the county during the pandemic.

Northamptonshire Chamber of commerce CEO Louise WallNorthamptonshire Chamber of commerce CEO Louise Wall
Northamptonshire Chamber of commerce CEO Louise Wall

And the interim CEO of the county's Chamber of Commerce, Louise Wall, admitted: "Businesses have faced the most unprecedented challenge in modern times because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting change in the trading environment across our region.

"The Northamptonshire Chamber has worked tirelessly to lobby decision-makers to provide firms the support they require to sustain employment.

"But with the furlough scheme tapering and the publication of these distressing figures, it is clear the full impact on the job market is yet to come."

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The Chamber of Commerce is due to publish results of it's latest quarterly survey of businesses in early October. But it is expected to paint a bleak picture.

Northampton-based Travis Perkins announced 2,500 job losses in JuneNorthampton-based Travis Perkins announced 2,500 job losses in June
Northampton-based Travis Perkins announced 2,500 job losses in June

Ms Wall added: "Results from our survey for the second quarter of the year showed businesses suffering in every available metric.

"Despite an optimistic uplift in the hospitality sector during August thanks to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, it is clear the Government needs to make bolder interventions to prevent this crisis becoming a catastrophe.

"Here in Northamptonshire we fully support the British Chamber of Commerce president, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, in her recent letter to the Prime Minister, as she calls for an ambitious fiscal stimulus, comprehensive support during local lockdowns, and a tangible strategy to improve consumer confidence.

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"People are at the heart of the businesses we proudly represent, and we would encourage all members to reach out to the Chamber for support whilst facing these difficult decisions."

Office for National Statistics estimates published on Tuesday put the number of claimants in the county at 3,563. The equivalent figure in March was 1,594.

In June, Northampton-based builders merchants Travis Perkins announced plans to cut around 2,500 jobs and shut 165 branches.

The Northamptonshire Chamber set up a dedicated hotline during the pandemic answering hundreds of questions from members and collating information on problems and challenges being faced.

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Findings from its second-quarter survey were in stark contrast to the optimistic note earlier in the year with companies suffering across the board.

The number of businesses recording an increase in domestic sales was down from 28 per cent in Q1 to ten per cent in Q2 with those seeing a decrease rising from 26 per cent to 75 per cent.

Business confidence fell precipitously between the two quarters — 52 per cent of businesses stated they believe turnover will worsen over the next year and 56 per cent believe in turn profitability will worsen.

The Government's Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, which paid wages of almost 10million workers furloughed during the crisis, is due to end on October 31.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has repeatedly ruled out extending the scheme despite growing calls for it to continue or be replaced with another scheme.