The IPIA and BAPC met with the Government Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on April 15. Among other key representations the trade associations made on the print industry’s behalf, was the critical need for a recovery glide path to be implemented for initiatives such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
BEIS confirmed that the Government was consulting in-depth on a series of strategies to ensure that industries such as print, which have been severely impacted by COVID-19, did not go over a cliff edge as restrictions are lifted. Specifically, that a graduated approach to the withdrawal of COVID-19 business support mechanisms was being explored.
Recommendations made to BEIS on the expansion of business support packages included:
*A time-limited and Government-backed book debt loan scheme
*Suspension for twelve months of autoenrolment pension fees for employers
*A total suspension of VAT on print and merchandising material for two years following the lifting of restrictions
*A substantial increase in capital equipment allowances
“Our meeting with BEIS was very productive and inspired a tremendous amount of confidence about the Government’s plans to support industries such as ours when we move into the post COVID-19 recovery phase,” said Graeme Smith, IPIA Chairman.
He added: “We presented the findings of our COVID-19 Business Impact Survey to BEIS, in addition to the initial feedback from our new Finance and Recovery Survey, to provide them with intelligence as to the far-reaching economic damage being caused by this crisis. They recognised that the print industry is a decisive barometer for the economic health of every other sector of our economy and is intrinsically linked with each of the UK’s major industrial bases.”
The representatives from the IPIA and BAPC also provided feedback from the print industry on the poor provision of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), and how it could be adapted to provide greater financial confidence and support.
BEIS provided very constructive assurances that the issues being experienced with the CBILS provision were a top priority for Government and that over the next two weeks it expects a significant improvement in the take-up of, and access to, the scheme.
A strong case was also made to BEIS about the inclusion of print businesses in the £25,000 Grant Scheme for hospitality, retail and leisure where they can prove they have significant exposure to these sectors. BEIS explained they have been making representations to the Treasury on this specific issue on behalf of several industries with a similar level of exposure. It requested that information and case studies continue to be provided to them to aid these discussions.
“BEIS have requested that we continue to feed them information on how the range of business support packages are being received on the ground, once they become available, and how our sector is responding to them in practice. We will redouble our efforts in this regard and ensure we are doing our utmost to represent and support the UK print industry.” Smith concluded.