THE Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce says it welcomes the government’s package of support for business, including grants to cover 80 per cent of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month, while the Federation of Small Businesses says the government needs to act quickly to help the self-employed.

The Chamber of Commerce has acknowledged the government’s deferral of VAT payments, which it says will help Island businesses continue to pay people and suppliers.

Both the Chamber and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) are calling for the implementation of the new support measures as rapidly as possible, alongside further detail and even greater action for those whose livelihoods are impacted by the crisis.

Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Steven Holbrook said: “These measures must be supported by the detail and the full information to allow businesses to take informed decisions.

“The support from government will give many Island businesses some breathing space, but the measures may not go far enough and the hospitality and tourism sectors will potentially suffer the most from the enforced shutdown.

“We must support local businesses as much as possible and our challenge is to find creative ways in which we can do so. 

“The clock is ticking and many businesses will be forced to move quickly into decisions on how to sustain operations long term.”

Isle of Wight County Press:

The IW Chamber of Commerce

Read Steve Holbrook’s statement in full

Isle of Wight hospitality businesses had been gearing up for Easter and saw their Mother’s Day trade decimated, after Friday’s announcement calling for all entertainment venues to close their doors.

On Sunday, after pressure from local communities about the impact of continued tourism, Parkdean Resorts closed its parks at Thorness Bay, Lower Hyde, Landguard Manor and Nodes Point.

Read more: Parkdean suddenly shuts Isle of Wight holiday parks until May

Steve Holbrook said: “A period of “hibernation” may be the only way forward to protect livelihoods in the long term. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last.

“The Coronavirus and our response to it look set to alter the way we live and work for many months and years to come.

“As employers we carry a responsibility to our staff. Their safety, health and well-being are the priority. We must all follow the relevant advice and take care of ourselves and others.”

What about self employed people?

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Over the weekend we have heard from thousands of self-employed people – including hairdressers, bakers, childcare providers, taxi drivers and café owners – many frightened and in despair at seeing their business fall away, and staring at the prospect of little or no financial support.

“While it is welcome that the government has pledged to cover 80 per cent of the wages of impacted employees, five million self-employed strivers have until now only been offered access to £94 a week. In desperation, many have attempted to apply for Universal Credit after Friday and have been turned down.

“These are people who have worked hard to build up their businesses, paid their taxes and helped the economy to grow. They now face a crunch point, with many unable to operate – leaving them without money, but with bills still stacking up.

“We have been strongly urging the government not to allow the self-employed to be left high and dry, and it is welcome to hear that the Prime Minister is listening and offering new hope. This must now be turned urgently into practical and easily accessible support. Time is now running out.

“While the government has a big role to play, it is also vital that the banks play their part as well. Billions of pounds of loan guarantees come into effect today (Monday), and the banks must pass on without delay this access to finance for the struggling self-employed.”