A new wave of support is needed to stave off company closures and job losses, a leading business group has said.
The CBI outlined measures aimed at speeding up emergency support to distressed firms amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Around £6 billion in grants from local authorities have reached small businesses and the Job Retention Scheme has safeguarded nearly three million jobs, said the CBI.
But it added that its latest survey on the state of manufacturing highlighted the need to re-examine what more can be done to help companies still struggling.
Pressure on manufacturers, transportation, distribution and other retail sector suppliers is “unrelenting”, said a CBI report, adding that these firms are ineligible for grants or relief from business rates.
The CBI called for a fast and simple route to loans under £25,000 for small businesses who may be completely new to borrowing, possibly backed by a 100% government guarantee, and a three-month suspension of business rates for firms.
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general, said: “As the impact on businesses, livelihoods and the economy grows day by day, it’s vital to ensure help gets where it’s needed most. The current loan scheme is up, running and working for many. Now we need another big push to get money out the door faster.
“This is a race against time, and the only winning strategy is scale, speed and simplicity.
“The Treasury, British Business Bank and lenders deserve huge credit for their speed and ambition so far. The millions of jobs they have saved today are vital livelihoods protected for the future.
“But with the lockdown extended there is no room to pause. The financial strain on some businesses cannot be underestimated.
“These recommendations are based on thousands of conversations with struggling firms of all sizes and aimed at helping those who have been left behind so far. A new wave of support is vital to local communities and our small and mid-sized businesses.
“Helping firms that have fallen through the cracks will protect jobs and livelihoods as the crisis unfolds and ensure a solid foundation to build on. It is far more cost effective to stop businesses collapsing now than create jobs in the future.
“The greater the number of companies helped to survive, the sooner the UK economy can restart and revive.”