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BCC chairman warns Boris Johnson of ‘difficult winter ahead’: CityAM

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The President of the British Chambers of Commerce has warned the Prime Minister that businesses face the most difficult trading conditions in post-war history.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, BCC the president, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, presented a series of measures to help the government take a “more precise approach” to restarting the UK economy.

Read more: Cut national insurance tax after leave program ends, says BCC boss

“Mr. Prime Minister, a successful restart of the economy requires bolder and more ambitious action,” she writes.

“We have to face a difficult winter even without a significant resurgence of the virus itself. If the government is to avoid mass unemployment, significant levels of business bankruptcy and long-term economic legacy in our communities, we urge you and your colleagues to act now.

The letter notes that local restrictions are a “biggest obstacle” to restarting the economy. Baroness McGregor-Smith calls for supporting businesses closed by local restrictions, in the form of additional subsidies and wage support, rather than cornering businesses with additional debt.

“Businesses are not ready to face the triple threat of new lockdowns, the end of government support regimes and the end of the Brexit transition period,” she added.

In the letter, McGregor-Smith calls for “much more ambitious” fiscal stimulus as the job retention program and various loan programs, such as CBILS, end in October.

It follows a recent BCC study which found that nearly a third of companies would downsize their workforce over the next three months.

Chief Executive Officer Adam Marshall previously said City AM podcast called on the government to cut the national insurance tax once the leave program ends in the fall.

Read more: BCC: UK companies face tough outlook after holidays end

McGregor-Smith is now calling for an 18-month hike in the employment allowance from 4,000 to 20,000 and an increase in the threshold for national insurance contributions from 8,788 to 12,500, which could help struggling businesses to some extent to prolonged cash flow problems.

The letter also suggests a 100 percent reduction in corporate tariffs for the most affected sectors and their staff, as well as an extension of CBILS for new entrants beyond the fall.

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