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High street reopenings crucial to local economy

THE reopening of beauty salons, spas and nail bars was hailed as a huge boost to the UK’s micro economy - as high streets continued the long road to post-Covid recovery.


Paul Hornby - whose award winning accountancy firm counts thousands of businesses as clients - has many which operate in sectors that have recently been given the green light to reopen.


Now, as the cost of the Government’s coronavirus support package is revealed to have hit £190bn, he says the owners of those businesses face a crucial few months.


Paul Hornby with wife and fellow JF Hornby & Co director Bev

“The vast majority of businesses that we work with have found a way to survive lockdown,” said Paul.


“But many of them emerge battered and in need of a strong trading period to get back on track.


“The Chancellor has, in my view, put together an extraordinarily strong package of measures to underpin the economy and to keep it liquid at a time of unprecedented global crisis.


“He has at least given businesses a chance - but this is no time for complacency. The road ahead will be challenging. Businesses need the support of their communities now, more than ever before and the next few months will be crucial.


“The opening of beauty salons, spas and nail bars will provide a further boost, because they bring people into town centres and that, in turn, leads to more footfall into other businesses.”


Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a further £30bn of support for the economy in his summer statement last Wednesday.


Measures included a six-month VAT cut for restaurants, hotels and attractions; a 'job retention bonus' to encourage firms to retain furloughed staff; a huge boost for people buying a home as the threshold for stamp duty was increased to £500k and a multi-billion pound fund designed to help get people aged 18-24 into employment.


Mr Sunak said his priority was getting people back to work, but he acknowledged that the extra support would not be enough to save every job and prevent further economic hardship.


Direct spending on the crisis, excluding the latest £30bn package, has risen to £158.7bn, the Chancellor revealed.


Paul said: “As a business we work for companies in pretty much every sector of the economy and with lockdown now easing significantly, they are desperate to return to some level of normality.


“The VAT cut for the hospitality and attractions industry is an absolute game changer. If bars and hotels can attract customers, and then give them a safe experience while they are there, the tax break will be huge.


“I was also pleased to learn about the package in the Summer Statement which aims to tempt businesses into finding a way to recruit 18-24-year-olds. We have always tried to invest in youth as part of our wider recruitment strategy. Seeing a young person grow, learn and develop is hugely rewarding and I hope many businesses will look at ways in which they can do this.


“The one measure which perhaps I am a little wary of, is the £1k bonus for companies bringing furloughed employees back into work and keeping them beyond next January.


“It simply won't be enough of an incentive for a business which is otherwise considering a redundancy situation.


“We are not going to see an economic recovery overnight, from what has been the most aggressive dip ever recorded in our economy. But I am hopeful that with businesses back open and members of the public acting in a responsible manner, we will begin to get back on track.”


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