FSB Wales responds to announcement of financial support available to businesses impacted by Wales entering Alert Level 4

Commenting on the Welsh Government press conference today, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:

“Financial support for businesses under these extreme circumstances is always incredibly welcome. It is important to remember that for every small business struggling to survive there is a very human cost – business owners with a bills and a Christmas to pay for in these incredibly difficult times, and staff facing a very uncertain future.

“However, there are questions remaining from today’s announcement that Welsh Government must answer.

“For us to know whether this funding is sufficient to keep businesses viable during another lockdown, Welsh Government must make clear what period of time the funding is designed to cover. Businesses will require that certainty in order to make plans to meet their overheads.

“Now that we have a Levels system, Welsh Government need to publish what support is available for each level, in order to help businesses prepare to come in and out of levels in the coming months. There will also be supply chain businesses that will be materially impacted and will also need to understand the support that they are entitled to.

“We are pleased to hear that some money is starting to reach hospitality businesses before Christmas – FSB repeatedly urged that with Christmas trade being wiped out for many, businesses would need government support to survive. Businesses will be having a slightly less anxious Christmas as a result.

“However, this does not change the difficult longer-term outlook that hospitality firms are facing. The Government has not yet indicated at all how long level 4 restrictions will last and so there is uncertainty as to whether the funding allocated will be enough to cover the businesses sufficiently if the restrictions last longer than the end of January. ‘Wet’ pubs (those who don’t serve food) will be particularly concerned that Welsh Government’s alert levels system suggests they will not be able to trade until areas reach Level One meaning that those businesses in particular may face a deeply uncertain period ahead.

“Furthermore, there is still no detail as to how a regional approach might be adopted throughout Wales which would recognise the different rates of virus prevalence across Wales and the potentially allow for more of the economy in those areas to open up.

“Welsh Government needs to come forwards with more detail to help these firms survive, and how they will support them to do so and give them greater detail and certainty. These firms are local employers and are often the backbone of their communities – we must ensure that they are able to come out of this winter as viable businesses.”

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