Social distancing rules are stopping one in five small businesses from reopening post lockdown.
A substantial 5.7m businesses closed at the height of the pandemic and a third are still shut. From those, one in five can’t reopen with the existing two-metre rule in place and those that can will be facing significant bills, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). A quarter expect to be forking out over £1,000 to meet the social distancing guidelines.
The FSB is calling on the chancellor to make some changes to help these small businesses, to boost the economy and to save jobs. One such measure is vouchers that will cover the cost of making workplaces safe. Others include tax cuts, better infrastructure and flexible repayments for businesses that incurred debt during lockdown. It’s being suggested that debt should be repaid in a student loan-style scheme.
On top of that, moves like cutting National Insurance would help employers bring staff back after furlough and contributing towards apprenticeship and training costs would encourage new hires.
FSB chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “Millions of small firms and sole traders have been helped by emergency support mechanisms but hundreds of thousands have not.
“As we look to recover, the chancellor should ensure that those who have fallen through the gaps are not punished further with tax rises or exclusion from new stimulus measures.
“Many have secured bounce back and interruption loans to cover fixed costs as revenue disappeared through no fault of their own. A guarantee that they wouldn’t have to start repayments until they’re turning a profit would allow them to crack on without fear.
“In a lot of respects, it’s about going back to basics. If every small business knew they could get online easily, their customers could visit them using reliable roads, and not face parking charges when they arrive, that would do wonders for productivity, particularly in rural areas.”