Incomes collapsing, supply chains disrupted and businesses closing or spending frozen just some of the problems facing Cambridgeshire businesses says survey

Mayor James Palmer promising businesses support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor James Palmer promising businesses support during the coronavirus pandemic. - Credit: Archant

Demand plummeting to zero, incomes collapsing, supply chains disrupted and businesses closing or freezing spending.

Those are some of the initial findings of a survey commissioned by Mayor James Palmer who has pledged support from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Over half the respondents so far are from small businesses employing up to nine workers.

A further 13 per cent are sole traders and 20 per cent are small businesses (10-49 employees), totalling around 88 per cent of responses. Only around one in ten medium or large businesses Mayor Palmer pledged to “work flat out to support local businesses in their battle to stay afloat and to keep their employees in jobs”.

Responding to the online business resilience Intelligence survey, launched by the combined authority last week, 57 per cent of companies said all their employees have been hit by this unprecedented emergency.

“The survey indicates worsening business conditions with supply chains disrupted, customer demand plummeting, and a hunger for guidance about help on offer,” said the mayor.

He said that with Government support plans now revealed, a key priority is guiding companies towards government wage subsidies for staff who cannot work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government will pay 80 per cent of their salaries, up to £2,500 per person a month. Provisions offsetting losses for the self-employed have also been announced.

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“The challenge now is to ensure businesses and the self-employed know how to tap into allowances for which they may be eligible,” said Mayor Palmer.

“Business has been knocked for six and employees are desperately anxious.

“It’s urgent that companies grasp the Government offers and know how to apply when the portals open.

“It’s my absolute priority to signpost the process and help them do this quickly and smoothly. Our task is to spell it out, it’s no use just telling people who’re in shock that support is out there, they need step-by-step help to get it.”

Mayor Palmer said the survey also asks companies to flag up what they most need at this stage to help them to weather the crisis.

There has been a good response so far, he said, but he hoped many more firms would come forward to get their voices heard.

“Thanks to those who have already taken part and shared but we need more evidence from more firms,” he said.

“Only you know exactly what you need from the government, so I urge businesses, from start-ups and SMEs to big employers, to act before it is too late.”

He urged businesses to contact the authority via the link “and tell us what you want. I’ll take your message to Westminster and get it squarely on the desk of relevant ministers”.

Mayor Palmer said the survey aims to collect detail on how the public health crisis is affecting them - and to collate requests of what they most need from government.

The combined authority’s business resilience teams will use early results to set up signposting services to put businesses on track for funds, and to lobby government on their behalf.