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Businesses outline three pleas to get back on track

What do businesses need to get back on their feet? Our panel set out their requests. Picture: Archant

What do businesses need to get back on their feet? Our panel set out their requests. Picture: Archant

Archant

With the high street reopening and settling in to the new normal, businesses across the county have highlighted what they need to get back on their feet.

During a webinar hosted by Archant today business leaders recounted the requests they were hearing from their members and peers.

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1. Better access to apprenticeships

Nova Fairbank, head of policy, governance and public affairs at the Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said: “The furlough scheme has been a lifeline to businesses but I don’t think the chancellor will have the capability to extend it beyond October. Instead of it going off a cliff edge what I would like to see is changes to make it easier for business to hire. This could be done through apprenticeships so people looking for a job or reskilling could do so, potentially without the burden being on the employer. Although this would be a short-term cost the long term impact of a skilled workforce would make it worth doing.”

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2. One metres or two

During the webinar it was announced that the UK’s coronavirus threat level has been reduced from stage four to three.

Host of the webinar, business editor for the Eastern Daily Press Richard Porritt, called for further exploration of whether social distancing should be set at two metres or one.

“The World Health Organisation has already revised their advice down to one metre. The impact that reducing these measures could have may mean the difference between businesses reopening successfully or not,” he said.

“There’s been mounting pressure from industries – particularly the hospitality sector – to revise the distancing measures. When it comes down to it what businesses really need is clarity. They can’t plan their cashflow according to one option and then be left scrambling if the reality is different.”

3. Give the streets to the businesses

Also on the panel was Stefan Gurney, chief executive of the Norwich BID, and Jonty Young, spokesman for the Norwich Lanes.

Both had been having discussions with hospitality businesses about the use of outdoor space for additional seating, to add much-needed covers.

“I’ve submitted a number of proposals,” said Mr Young. “For example there are some car parking spaces around the Lanes which could be used for seating. We’ll see how they’re received – obviously not all the businesses are cafes and other businesses may need them for deliveries.”


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