By Kristy Dorsey

Take-up of most of the measures announced in the Chancellor’s Summer Statement is expected to be low, according to a new survey, indicating that efforts to support business and employment are wide of the mark.

With the Government’s furlough scheme winding down between now and the end of October, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) questioned more than 500 firms about the “Plan for Jobs” measures coming in its place. While 43 per cent intend to access the £1,000 bonus for retaining furloughed workers through into January, there was little enthusiasm for other support schemes.

Meanwhile, 42% reported a slight or significant decrease in sales since June, and 55% said their cashflow suffered a slight or significant decrease against the previous month.

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Of the 21% who reported an improvement in their cashflow position, nearly two-thirds cited new customer demand as one of the drivers. But many are also still relying on Government support, with 35% saying furlough support helped improve cashflow, and another 24% and 25% crediting loan and grant schemes respectively.

Claire Walker, co-executive director of the BCC, said many firms are continuing to show signs of distress: “Expected usage of schemes announced in the Summer Statement is relatively low, indicating they do not provide the right kind of support for many businesses at this critical time and a rethink is needed.

“With confidence and demand not returning at the scale firms need, the Government must take radical steps to slash the tax burden around employment to help companies pay valued staff. A major boost to the Employment Allowance, and an increase in the threshold for employers’ National Insurance contributions are needed now if (the Chancellor) wants to help viable companies save jobs as the furlough scheme comes to an end.”

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Although 43% said they will use the furlough bonus, nearly as many – 40% – said they will not. Less than half intend to use the Kickstart programme to bring young people into employment, and a further 31% said they had not heard of Kickstart.

More than six out of 10 have no intention of taking up grants for employers who take on trainees, and 65% do not plan on accessing grants for those who hire apprentices. Previous research from the BCC showed that just 12% of firms plan to recruit staff this quarter, while 29% expect to decrease the size of their workforce.