Lockdown the sequel: Ian Carrotte warns of mass unemployment and many business failures as industry groups round on the Chancellor

Lockdown the sequel: Ian Carrotte warns of mass unemployment as industry groups round on the Government for failing small businesses during the Covid-19 crisis

On January 4, 2021, at 8pm in the evening millions on people tuned in to hear the PM Boris Johnson announce a third national lockdown – this time starting almost immediately.

“I am staggered by the way the whole thing has been handled,” said ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte. “Once again it’s the sole traders, self-employed, so-called non-essential shops, pubs, cafes and the like who are being hit. Yes there’s some good news with the offer of more Government based loans, grants and the continuation of the furlough scheme but these measures will not stop more firms going to the wall and the economy taking a nose dive.”

He said one of the concerns was many firms had taken out loans in March 2020 which were now due for payment but had lost most of their income during the last few months.

Listen to business

The proprietor of the nation’s leading credit intelligence group said that its members were equally alarmed at the way business was being treated.

“If supermarkets and garden centres can remain open then so can almost all retailers as long as they take common sense precautions,” he said. “They sell the same products as super stores and yet are being penalised and driven into extinction. Small businesses and the self-employed are the backbone of the economy but they are the ones most affected. 2021 will see high unemployment and a recession as a result.”

Scotland is also experiencing another lockdown with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) north of the border echoing Ian Carrotte’s views. Andrew McRae, the FSB’s Scotland policy chair said: “This hard lockdown will cause more heartbreak for Scotland’s smaller businesses. To stop deep disappointment turning into despondency, Ministers need to mitigate the impact on independent and local businesses with easier-to-access financial help and crystal-clear advice.

“We need to see support for the economy match the scale and pace of these restrictions. Help for Scottish business can no longer be a dollar short and a day late. For a start, the glut of new support schemes announced at the end of last year need to start delivering cash to firms. So far, few of these initiatives have paid out a penny. Then Ministers need to urgently look at new ways to get money to the local firms who’ve borne the business brunt of this crisis.”

Business on ‘life support’

Ian Carrotte said that business was on ‘life support’ but needed more than the minimum help to survive. “We have to live with this virus as it will be around much longer than predicted by politicians,” he said. “Pre-schools remain open, teachers have to look after the children of key workers, medical and care workers continue to work as do everyone in logistics and transport plus workers in essential shops are at their posts so there’s no reason why many other groups of workers cannot continue to clock in.”

Rishi Sunak under fire

Ian Carrotte said he was shocked that there has been no economic assessment of the impact of the Covid-19 measures given by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak. He said there were plenty of graphs and statistics on the spread of the virus but none to show how the measures were hitting the nation socially, mentally and non-Covid medically – all of which have an effect on the country’s well-being as a whole.

"Added up these have a cost," he said. "Overall these can be worse than the effect of the virus in terms of broken relationships, broken families, broken businesses, broken communities. A recession is one thing but locking people up in their homes is something else - and we will only know the effects in years to come."

The Chancellor has announced that businesses in retail, hospitality and leisure will receive new grants to help them keep afloat along with grants worth up to £9,000 per property. Mr Sunak said he was committed to protecting jobs and supporting businesses by offering help with business rates relief and the furlough scheme which has been extended until the end of April. He added: "The Budget early in March is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the range of support we have put in place and set out the next stage of our economic response.”

However the CBI has warned that the measures may be too late for many firms, a view shared by other business groups, such as the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and the FSB.

BCC director general, Adam Marshall said many smaller firms would not qualify for help and called for the support to be extended to firms in more sectors who had no cash flow. FSB chair Mike Cherry also said the funds do not go far enough to match the scale of the crisis that small firms are facing and noted the measures contained no additional support for self-employed people.

About ICSM Credit

ICSM Credit has more than four decades of experience as a credit intelligence group whose members gain inside information about firms in trouble allowing them to avoid bad debts and rogue traders. To join costs less than a tank of fuel - while at the moment there's a special free temporary membership offer during the Covid-19 crisis which gives access to free legal letters. ICSM also has an effective debt collecting service which has a global reach - ask for details from Paul.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

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For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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