Almost HALF of firms report dip in trade during the latest lockdown

Almost HALF of UK firms have reported a dip in trade during the lockdown with one in 10 saying income has fallen more than 50% as shutdown takes its toll on businesses

  • Some 47 per cent of businesses reported turnover below predicted levels 
  • Among them were 12 per cent who saw gross revenue fall more than 50% 
  • Just 6% of firms reported that their business was doing better than expected 

The impact of the latest lockdown on UK PLC was laid bare today as new figures revealed almost half of all businesses reported plummeting income.

Some 47 per cent of businesses reported turnover below predicted levels in the latest analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

Among them were 12 per cent who had seen their gross revenue fall by more than 50 per cent.

Just six per cent of firms reported that their business was doing better than expected three weeks into the third national lockdown.

 The ONS numbers released today also showed that the percentage of UK workers on furlough between January 25 and February 7 rose by 2 per cent to 20 per cent over the previous fortnight – equating to 6.4million workers.

The statistics will place more pressure on Boris Johnson to come up with a swift and comprehensive plan to jump-start the UK economy when he releases his lockdown roadmap on Monday.  

Rishi Sunak told a quarter of firms will axe staff if he does not extend furlough 

Business chiefs have warned Rishi Sunak one in four firms will make staff redundant if he does not extend coronavirus financial support beyond March and April.

A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce found that three in five companies have seen revenue from UK customers fall in the last three months while almost a third of respondents said they will run out of cash in the next three months.

The BCC is calling for furlough and the Government’s business loans scheme to be extended, with director general Adam Marshall telling the Chancellor it would be a ‘huge mistake’ to ‘pull the plug’ on support now.

Mr Marshall said the end of lockdown is now ‘within sight’ and Mr Sunak must act at the Budget on March 3 to ensure firms make it ‘over the finish line’.

He also warned a failure to help businesses in the months ahead would mean the billions of pounds already spent on propping up firms would have been wasted.

The Government’s furlough scheme is due to run until the end of April while struggling businesses have until the end of March to access loan schemes.

The Prime Minister has vowed to use ‘data not dates’ when deciding how and when to end the measures in place to control the spread of coronavirus, but is facing a growing backlash from business chiefs and MPs.

The vaccine rollout has helped slash the number of deaths and infections, but the PM is being regularly reminded of the social cost of lockdown, amid fears firms unable to open under current restrictions will soon collapse.

Mark Woolhouse, an Edinburgh University expert in infectious disease, told MPs yesterday that ‘if you’re driven by the data and not by dates, right now, you should be looking at earlier unlocking’.

Steve Baker, a member of the 70-strong anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, used the professor’s comments to pile further pressure on the Prime Minister to accelerate his plans.

He said: ‘Boris Johnson today rightly confirmed he will focus on ‘data, not dates’ for easing restrictions as our recent letter suggested. As Professor Woolhouse, a senior government scientific adviser, says, the data are looking so good that Britain may open earlier.’

The Mail revealed yesterday that – under a blueprint discussed with industry chiefs – the hospitality, holiday and leisure sectors might not return to normal until July.

But the Prime Minister will today receive a dossier of data which will help shape his roadmap out of lockdown.

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