'Businesses will fail and jobs will be lost' if coronavirus loans come too late

'Businesses will fail and jobs will be lost' if a debate to provide business loans is held next week, the President of Jersey's Chamber of Commerce is warning the government.

A £180 million support package from Jersey's government was announced yesterday, to try and keep the island's businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

However the debate won't take place until next week and that could be too late for some, according to the Chamber.

The message that is coming very clearly from our members and non-members is that the crisis is here, right now and is unprecedented in scope. For many, a business loan scheme that won’t be debated in the States Assembly until next week, and as yet has no detail about how vulnerable businesses can access money now, means that otherwise viable businesses will fail and jobs will be lost by six more days of wait. For the Government this means no GST, no Social Security and a major impact on future tax receipts. For our community, friends and families it means worry, stress and hardship.

Jennifer Carnegie. President of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce

The government measures include:

  • £50 million is initially being set-aside in a Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme, which will allow banks to provide new loans and overdrafts to businesses struggling to keep trading.

  • A further £50 million of equity will be provided into a 'Special Situations Fund.'

  • A small business emergency fund could also be created to provide more support to those who are self-employed and the smallest firms in the island.

  • The government have already announced that GST, Social Security contributions and rent payments for States' properties are being deferred.

The measures still need approving by the States Assembly and the Treasury Minister is bringing forward a proposition as a matter of urgency.

Jersey Chamber members are committed to their employees – whilst we all agree that the medical response must take priority and we must do all to protect our community, there is a very real human impact to what is unfolding in front of us. We are fortunate to be behind many other countries in the spread of the virus, but we are absolutely at the forefront of the unfolding economic recession that, if not mitigated now, will have a significantly negative effect on so many of our community. Put simply, we are at the very edge of a state of emergency for the Jersey economy and like other nations, our government must act quickly and decisively to put greater support into our future.

Jennifer Carnegie. President of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce say it has been inundated with messages of concern since the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture’s announcement, yesterday.

Despite the 'significant package' on offer, it claims more support will be necessary.

Our members are urging that the measures announced today are implemented without delay and additional, bold, courageous measures are considered and implemented rapidly. Keeping the lights on for local businesses, big and small, will be far more cost-effective than having large numbers unemployed and needing to develop a long-term recovery package.

Jennifer Carnegie. President of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce