Wednesday 22 April 2020 12:01 am

More than 70 per cent of firms have furloughed staff, BCC says

More than 70 per cent of businesses have furloughed staff under the government’s coronavirus job protection scheme, according to a survey published today by the British Chambers of Commerce.

According to the survey 71 per cent of staff have furloughed staff, up from 66 per cent a week earlier.

The job retention portal went live on Monday with 70,000 applications within 30 minutes of opening and more than 140,000 in total on the first day of operation.

Under the scheme businesses are supposed to receive cash to pay staff within six working days of application.

The job retention scheme sees the government pay 80 per cent of wages, up to £2,500 a month, for furloughed employees unable to work due to the coronavirus crisis.

Thirty per cent of respondents said they have furloughed between 75 and 100 per cent of their workforce.

The BCC survey also found cash flow was a major concern for businesses, with six in 10 having less than three months’ cash in reserve.

BCC director general Adam Marshall said: “HMRC’s capacity to deal with the demand from business has been encouraging so far – and their staff working under immense pressure to get it up and running deserve our recognition and thanks.

“It is now critical that payments from the furlough scheme reach businesses as smoothly and as quickly as possible in order to protect jobs and livelihoods.

“Ministers will also need to consider keeping the scheme in place for longer, to help businesses transition as the lockdown is eased and the economy moves gradually toward a new normal.”