Brian Hall, Regional Chair IoD West Midlands
The single common denominator of the current pandemic is that not one of us will have experienced the situation before, to this level. It seems with every passing day, there is yet another ‘unprecedented’ development as our world keeps changing in a bid to cope with all that coronavirus can throw at us.
But, at the same time, we are also seeing unprecedented action being taken from the Government and local authorities and, whilst it sometimes feels like decisions are lacking in detail, we need to remember that they are working at an extraordinary pace, as never before witnessed.
The enormity of the government’s commitment announced last Friday, to subsidise the salaries of workers at risk of redundancy by up to 80%, should not be underestimated. Hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK that otherwise would have been lost could now be saved as a result. Combined with measures to defer VAT payments, offer Business Grants and increase Universal Credit, this is major boost in confidence to the business community and to consumers.
The acid test for all policies brought forward by government will be in how fast they reach businesses, where cash continues to be king.
Yes – there is more to be done and more detail to be communicated, especially around the Self Employed, Freelancers and Contractors. We are yet to see how easy accessing CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme) will be and unsure when HMRC will be able to deliver the cash to support Furloughed employees.
The most important message is that we will get through this but it will take a monumental joint effort, both in terms of business leaders coming together and partnering with politicians and government to ensure adequate measures are in place to safeguard the economy during what will undoubtedly be its most testing period since the financial crisis.
The IoD and its global network of Directors has a key role in supporting Whitehall’s decision making. Alongside our partners in other representative organisations (the B5), we are in daily contact with policy makers and those with influence in government, shaping the very solutions that will help see our businesses through this time of crisis.
More than ever, we are providing a voice for local businesses and encourage you to get in touch to ensure your voice is heard, either via me, our Regional Team or firstname.lastname@example.org
We know that through our Policy team, the voice of IoD members is front and centre in Government, influencing decisions on IR35, VAT holidays, support for employees, Business Interruption loans etc. We are also feeding concerns and questions into the WMCA, BEIS and local authorities via numerous groups across the region, so please speak up.
We are providing a range of services to help you as you continue to grapple to keep your business together of the coming weeks and months including the recently launched IoD Coronavirus Hub on our website, which provides you with access to the latest advice, information and resources you need to support your business.
Regionally, we are hosting informative webinars such as the Covid 19 Crisis Management Update on Friday 27th and will take our Mastermind Peer to Peer Mentoring sessions online.
What I want to say to everyone, company owners, business leaders, directors – whether you are a member of the IoD or not – you are most definitely not alone. We are so much stronger when we come together so please do get in touch, let us know what issues you are facing and what you want to see from government and others to help.
Above all, keep safe and follow government guidance on how to stem the spread of COVID-19 as we unite to reduce the risk of the coronavirus to lives and livelihoods.