A COMMERCE expert has said there needs to be much more support for locals businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and loans could just be delaying the inevitable.

Essex has now moved from the medium alert level into the high tier after County Hall bosses appealed for greater restrictions from Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The rules mean different households can no longer mix indoors which has deterred some customers from visiting restaurants and bars. 

Business owners across the county have since called on the Government for greater financial support following what they believe to be a major setback.

Essex County Council health boss John Spence told local authority representatives it is in line for £3 million to cope with the move to the high tier but it is not clear how that money will be used.

But David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, says business owners are now once again nervously waiting on the Treasury to dig deep to save jobs and, in some cases, their businesses.

He said: “We do think there needs to be much more support for businesses but we don’t know yet what that support will be like so we are waiting for what will be offered.

“The concern is a lot of the Government’s schemes are coming to an end and any new schemes will likely be at a lower level than we have had previously.

“Yes, there has been the business loans but businesses will still need to repay them at some point even if their income has been reduced over this period.

“It will be the case for some businesses, I am sure, that even when they have done all they can, they will have to cease trading.”

Mr Burch is now calling on Downing Street to continue helping businesses by enabling them to reduce their overheads.

He believes this could prove vital and see them survive the unrelenting financial pressures placed on them as a result of the pandemic.

“We want to see more deferral of business rates and VAT, which will help the businesses reduce their overheads,” he added.

“This is just as important, in my opinion, as offering them grants and loans but it needs to come from central Government, not the council.

“If not, businesses closing will have a knock-on effect and impact the Government’s finances and more people will be claiming unemployment benefits.

“So, we need to keep businesses going for as long as we can.”