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September 15 2020

 Simon Burton

Simon Burton, Director, Barker Storey Matthews (now part of Eddisons) is Chair of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Bury St Edmunds.

The following article is reproduced here by kind permission of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and a version recently appeared in the Bury Free Press.

 The sixteenth Suffolk Chamber of Commerce survey into how its members are responding to the spread of the COVID-19 virus reaffirms the ongoing steady re-opening of much of the Suffolk business community.

Conducted in late July, the survey showed that 60 per cent of firms have now fully re-opened with a further 23 per cent saying that there is nothing stopping them from trading.

 Only 4 per cent of respondents said they were unable to re-open due to difficulties complying with COVID-19 guidelines.

 Those companies that have re-opened are successfully employing a range of measures aimed to minimise the spread of COVID-19:

 -          81 per cent of firms have introduced social distancing in their work place

-          53 per cent of firms have adopted flexible working

-          37 per cent of firms are rotating staff to meet guidelines in their workplaces

 Concerns about the impact of the lockdown on the health and wellbeing of owners and staff alike have remain largely unchanged over the last month.

 In this latest survey, 25 per cent of business owners/managers said they are feeling anxious and stressed at work. Fifty eight per cent of the businesses’ workforces are facing anxiety issues, 43 per cent are stressed, 22 per cent are facing sleeping problems and 14 per cent of them are worried about debt.

 In a reverse of the two previous Suffolk Chamber surveys, more respondents (42 per cent) said there were not confident of the Government’s approach to lockdown than those expressing confidence (35 per cent).

 Significantly, 32 per cent of business are thinking of, or will be making, staff redundant and 24 per cent of those businesses will be making up to five staff redundant.

 While these survey findings suggest a continuation of the steady re-opening of Suffolk businesses of recent weeks, the potential of significant job losses is an immediate cause of concern.

 The threat is especially acute in specific sectors and for younger workers more generally.

 Suffolk Chamber is pleased that the Government has launched a number of schemes aimed at encouraging employers to take on 16-24 and will look forward to doing our part as the voice of business in the county to assist the restart of the economy and to minimise any short-term job losses.

 For more information about Barker Storey Matthews in Suffolk, contact Simon Burton, simon.burton@eddisons.com and for Suffolk Chamber of Commerce see https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk.