Industry backs Covid plan and calls for targeted action

coronavirus11The advertising and marketing industry has backed new Government measures to help businesses through the continuing dark days of Covid-19, although the sector is also pushing for “bold and rapid” targeted support in the months ahead.

Speaking this morning in the House of Commons, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his “Winter Economy Plan”, including a new Job Support Scheme, starting in November, that replaces the furlough scheme and means the Government will pay part of workers’ wages who have lost hours.

The cut in VAT to 5% for the hospitality and tourism sector will also be extended to March 31, while firms that have taken out Government loans during the crisis will have longer to pay them back.

On bounce back loans, small businesses will have a “pay as you grow” option, so loans can be extended from six to ten years. This will nearly halve the average monthly repayment, Sunak claimed.

Struggling firms can make interest-only repayments and anyone can apply to suspend repayments for up to six months. No companies will see their credit ratings affected, he added.

Meanwhile, business interruption loans will have their Government guarantee extended to ten years and the extending deadline of all loan schemes will be pushed back until the end of 2020.

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford commented: “Given the widespread concern that the ending of the furlough scheme would lead to a wave of redundancies, we are relieved to see the Chancellor’s announcement.

“It provides greater security for those whose jobs are at risk from the weakened economy and the new Covid-19 restrictions. It offers greater flexibility too, covering part-time work, so businesses can be more responsive to demand and keep people engaged in their workplaces.”

Woodford went on to stress that “public health and the health of the economy are interdependent and in a time of such economic uncertainty it is right that the Government intervention is bold and rapid”.

He added: “With this in mind, the AA has proposed an advertising tax credit as a means to stimulate the consumer spending and the wider UK economy. We also recommend Government considers business rates relief on office premises and out-of-home poster sites, to ensure that these sectors aren’t further disadvantaged by increased lockdown measures.”

Woodford concluded: “We are entering a crucial time for the economy in transitioning from the furlough scheme to these new measures for supporting employment, and as we approach the critical Christmas trading period and the end of the Brexit transition. Targeted support now will protect jobs across the UK advertising and media landscape and further aid the fragile economic recovery.”

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