Monday 16 March 2020 8:11 am

CBI boss calls for ‘fast’ action to help businesses

The boss of the CBI has called for the government to help firms under threat from coronavirus.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn used an appearance on the BBC’s Today programme this morning to highlight the drop in demand facing businesses due to increased social distancing.

This comes after the coronavirus crisis continued to escalate.

Read more: Coronavirus: Australian shares suffer worst fall on record as Asia slides

“The severity of that demand slump is affecting business as we speak,” Fairbairn said.

Fears about the economic impact of the virus have led to concerns it could create another downturn.

“We do not want to look back and say we acted too late,” she added.

The business group boss called for “action at scale, coordinated and very fast”.

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Fairbairn said the crisis arising from coronavirus is different from other challenges for business.

This is because it is affecting viable and solvent firms which are able to survive, but need support during the outbreak. 

Call to arms

The government issued a call to industry over the weekend for manufacturing firms to help produce respirators needed by the NHS. 

This came as the government announced plans to give daily press conferences on the situation.

Yesterday, the boss of Virgin Atlantic said the government may have to bail out airlines.

Read more: Coronavirus: Government will brief public daily on outbreak

This comes as carriers across the world cancel flights.

The US Federal Banking Reserve has cut interest rates to almost zero in a bid to stimulate the world’s biggest economy. 

Measures to mitigate the impact of the virus took centre stage in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first budget last week.

He pledged extra money for the NHS and waived business rates for companies with a rateable value of less than £51,000.