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CBI calls for extension to furlough scheme

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ahead of the Budget, CBI has called for an extension in the lengthening repayment periods for existing VAT deferrals until June 2021 at the earliest

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the government to extend the Job Retention Scheme beyond April to the end of June to support businesses and protect jobs.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer ahead of the Budget, CBI has called for an extension in the lengthening repayment periods for existing VAT deferrals until June 2021 at the earliest, and to allow firms to defer Q1 2021 VAT bills for twelve months.

The organisation has also asked for the business rates holiday to be extended for at least another three months to help UK firms which were forced to close under current restrictions.

Additionally, CBI has recommended delivering the Pay As You Grow scheme for Bounce Back Loans, including extending capital and interest payment holidays for a further six months. In addition, it wants to ensure that the Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) scheme is kept open until the end of June 2021.

Tony Danker, director-general for CBI, said: “The Budget comes at a crucial time for the UK. The Government’s support from the very start of this crisis has protected many jobs and livelihoods, and progress on the vaccine rollout brings real cause for optimism.

“But almost a year of disrupted demand and extensive restrictions to company operations is taking its toll. Staff morale has taken a hit. And business resilience has hit a sobering new low.”

He added: “The government must once again stand shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses to underwrite support for the duration, helping viable enterprises to last the course. Many tough decisions for business owners on jobs, or even whether to carry on, will be made in the next few weeks. If the Government plans to continue its support then I urge them to take action before the Budget which is still more than six weeks away.

“The Government has done so much to support UK business through this crisis, we don’t want to let slip all the hard work from 2020 with hope on the horizon. The rule of thumb must be that business support remains in parallel to restrictions and that those measures do not come to a sudden stop, but tail off over time. Just as the lifting of restrictions will be gradual, so must changes to the Government’s sterling support to businesses.”

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