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CORONAVIRUS: Cash now needs to get to businesses quickly

Business leaders say the Government must seek the most straightforward methods of getting cash to businesses, after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a new support package for self-employed workers.

Mr Sunak announced that self-employed people will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month to help them cope with the financial impact of COVID-19.

They can apply for a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month.

The money will be paid in a single lump sum, with Mr Sunak stating it will arrive “by the start of June”.

He said the grants would be available for at least three months and 95 per cent of people who earn most of their income as self-employed would be covered.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce have welcomed the scheme in principal but warned the Government must act urgently to help businesses access the cash.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “In some ways, self-employed individuals across the country will be breathing a sigh of relief.

“The support announced today is rightly equitable with the support offered to employed individuals and much needed.

“However, as the Chancellor acknowledged, the scheme may not actually be available and paying out until June. There are several months of bills, overheads and living costs between now and then.

“While the impact of Coronavirus continues to tear through the economy at a lightening pace the most impressive support schemes - the Job Retention Scheme for employees, the SME grant and now the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme are not.

“The urgent need is for businesses to access cash and we would encourage the Government to continue to focus on finding the most straightforward methods for doing so.

“The support announced has been incredibly generous and very well intentioned - we recognise that many new systems and processes are having to be built to deliver it.

“But the reality is the businesses at the front end of the impact of Coronavirus urgently need cash now. If it takes too long to reach them, it may be too late.”

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