It is sad, but a sign of the times that JCB today announced that up to 950 jobs are at risk of redundancy at its UK plants after demand for its machines fell by half because of the COVID-19 crisis.
JCB has said the decision to restructure JCB’s business had been extremely tough but that the company “had no choice but to take difficult decisions to adapt to this new economic reality”.
I’ve spent most of Friday morning reacting to this, not only in interviews but talking to Chamber management about what we can do to not only help JCB employees facing redundancy, but also others who will inevitably face the same fate in the coming months.
We are working closely with the DWP, Jobcentre Plus and Staffordshire County Council to help people back employment or other options such as self-employment, training, or study to upskill.
The Chamber also offers a comprehensive start-up programme to help people into self-employment.
This week, results from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Coronavirus Impact Tracker, a national barometer of business sentiment, reveals that businesses are ready for a gradual reopening of the economy but will need continued, adaptable government support during a phased return to work.
The results were taken from responses between 5th and 8th May, prior to the Prime Minister announcing an easing of lockdown measures to allow a gradual phased return to work.
It covers readiness to start back to work, the job retention scheme and the Bounce Back Loans scheme and shows that most businesses can implement social distancing and make provisions for flexible and home working where applicable.
Whilst the Bounce Back Loans Scheme has made an encouraging start many smaller cash-strapped firms are unwilling or unable to take on more debt. Chambers will be urging Government to further expand existing grant schemes to ensure as many businesses as possible get access to the support they need.
We are in no doubt that the job retention scheme and the furloughing of employees has been successful in its aim to protect livelihoods and its extension is a huge help and relief for business.
Therefore, the Chambers are urging the government to continue to listen to business and evolve the scheme in line with what is happening on the ground. Further phased support may yet be needed for firms who are unable to operate for an extended period or those who face reduced capacity or demand due to ongoing restrictions.
You can have your say by contributing to the BCC Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/bcc-coronavirus-business-impact-tracker
For all other enquiries you can email firstname.lastname@example.org call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002. We also have a weekday daily Twitter hour from 11am – 12noon #StaffsChamberChat