More needed from Chancellor

Withers wants tax break as firms ‘weeks’ from collapse

James Withers

James Withers: survival (pic: Terry Murden)

Food and drink industry chief James Withers has called for a tax-free period to help businesses which are “within weeks” of collapsing.

Mr Withers said firms needed immediate support through grants and by a massive extension of tax relief.

He said the £330 billion package of support announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak was largely made up of loans and business owners “will lose sleep about how to pay them off”.

“Businesses are measuring their survival time in two to three weeks,” he said, saying many food and drink firms depend on bars and restaurants which are now being emptied of customers. He added that a lot of Scottish food and drink firms also supply the airports and airlines which are grounding planes.

“The Chancellor will have to go a lot further than we heard last night. What is being offered is debt and businesses will lose sleep about how to pay them off.

“There was some bright news…the move to cut business rates is a cash injection, but it is only going to the hospitality sector and needs to be broader. We need to be a tax-free environment. To protect lives we also have to protect livelihoods and that means going deeper.

“It is not just about small companies but about large businesses which work to tight margins.

“We have to ensure that by the time we get through this we will have a national infrastructure to drive the recovery.”

Business calls for speedy action to deliver £330bn package

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