NEWS4 March 2021

MRS calls for consistent business support following Budget

Covid-19 News Public Sector UK

UK – The Market Research Society (MRS) has urged the government to end a ‘postcode lottery’ of Covid-19 support for small businesses following the chancellor’s Budget announcement.


In a statement following the Budget speech by Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, Jane Frost, chief executive of MRS, said local authorities needed clearer advice to help deliver aid to businesses facing large bills for premises that had been forced to close for much of the past year.

In the budget, Sunak announced measures including extensions of business rates and VAT relief to help support businesses adversely affected by measures put in place to control the spread of Covid-19.

Other measures in the Budget included the extension of furlough until September, a business restart scheme offering small businesses grants of up to £18,000 and a recovery loan scheme allowing firms to apply for loans of between £25,000 and £10m.

Frost said: “We welcome the continued support for businesses outlined in today’s Budget. However, today’s good news will only compound the agony of those who have been ineligible for grants or unable to access the support for which they qualify.

“They include business owners and directors – overwhelmingly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – who cannot apply for either furlough or self-employment support.”

Frost added: “The extension of business rates and VAT relief also brings no comfort to companies that are still facing huge bills for premises that have been out of use for nearly a year.

“We urgently need clearer advice from central government to support local authorities in these decisions if we are going to end the current postcode lottery and ensure aid is fairly and consistently allocated going forward.”

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, said that it welcomed announcements such as the end of furlough and a general focus on skills and jobs to help the economy recover.

“Businesses will be relieved the furlough scheme has been extended until September and the reassurance that this gives to their activity,” Woodford said.

“Every firm wants to return to normality and bring back staff members where they can, but this needs to be done gradually and as lockdown easing dictates.

“The announced new business grants and growth schemes for SMEs are also very welcome. The multiplier effect of advertising as an engine for growth for businesses of all sizes is well known and we look forward to working with government to see how the advertising industry can contribute further to support business and jobs growth.”