Reaction to new Chancellor support measures (24/9)

Burgis & Bullock Partner Sean Farnell reacts to the latest wave of economic support measures announced today (24 September) by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

I’m really pleased that the Chancellor has listened to business.

It has been obvious for the last few months that the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) coming to an end in October would create a tsunami of redundancies – however, similarly, the country cannot afford to continue to pay people to stay at home.

The compromise of the government topping-up wages makes much more sense, as it is better for the economy and can be equally as important for mental wellbeing for individuals to be at work and contributing financially.

Hopefully this will be a seamless transition from the JRS on 1 November, but it’s also really encouraging that all businesses will be able to take advantage of the new scheme, regardless of if they have used the existing furlough schemes.

The reality is that business changes and it’s highly likely that some businesses that haven’t previously been affected are now finding themselves in trouble.

The extension of the Bounce Back Loans (BBL) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (BILS) is also very welcome, as it has been clear for a while that many businesses won’t be in a position to make repayments come March.

The ability to take a further six month repayment break is also sensible and I suspect many businesses will be doing this in April next year as VAT and tax deferred from 2020 becomes payable, although the ability to make staged payments of tax is also a very welcome move.

It’s disappointing that there has been no announcement for the three million plus businesses that have so far been excluded from help, for example new start-ups and the higher earning self-employed who have been without any income since March!

There has been some small help for hospitality sector with the VAT discount extended but this is scant consolation compared to the impact of social distancing and a 10pm curfew.

It was also frustrating to see some sectors completely overlooked, for example the exhibition and events sector which has now seen all events for 2020 cancelled, and with a minimum of six month’s required to plan and run exhibitions it’s unlikely that they will have any income until Summer 2021.

Overall, it was a really welcome statement from Sunak but as always, like we have found with previous announcements and measures, some will still not benefit.

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