UK business lobby urges more help for virus-hit firms

20 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

LONDON: Britain's main business lobby on Tuesday urged the government to extend its furlough jobs support scheme and taxation holidays to help coronavirus-plagued firms.

With fears that tens of thousands of small businesses could collapse, the Confederation of British Industry called on finance minister Rishi Sunak to act urgently, claiming companies could not afford to wait until his annual budget on March 3 for new measures, reports AFP.

"Many tough decisions for business owners on jobs, or even whether to carry on, will be made in the next few weeks," CBI Director-General Tony Danker said in a statement.

"The government has done so much to support UK business through this crisis, (but) we don't want to let slip all the hard work from 2020 with hope on the horizon" amid vaccine rollouts.

The CBI has urged Sunak to again extend the furlough scheme that is funding the bulk of wages for millions of private sector workers.

The multi-billion-pound support plan, launched last March, is set to expire at the end of April but the CBI wants it to go on until the end of June.

The lobby group is also seeking deferred payments of value added taxation (VAT), and an extension to a pause in business rates levied on commercial property.

Much of the UK re-entered lockdown this month, with restrictions similar to the country's initial Covid curbs imposed mostly during the second quarter of 2020.