Inquiry on the impact of COVID-19
The All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group has launched an inquiry on the impact of COVID-19, in a bid to tackle the critical issues facing the sector.
Led jointly with the industry’s political lobbying consortium, the British Furniture Confederation (BFC), eighteen leading businesses in the commercial and domestic sectors are contributing to the session, taking place via video conference on an invite-only basis on 30 April.
They will highlight the state-of-play across the furniture and furnishings industry, which will then be fed directly into Government.
In background notes prepared by the BFC in advance of the inquiry, six key areas are put forward for consideration.
These include an extension of the Business Rates holiday, assurances that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will not be ended abruptly before the industry is back on its feet, and the re-opening of manufacturing sites and retail premises selling furniture.
Other items include the prompt payment of suppliers, the generation of support and demand for British-made furniture as the lockdown is lifted and due consideration of the Coronavirus Small Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Led by Mike Wood MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group, the inquiry will put all recommendations into a public document.
Those taking part include Phil Reynolds of the Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA), Nick Garratt of the British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM), Jeremy Stein of the British Contract Furnishing Association (BCFA), Jessica Alexander of the National Bed Federation (NBF) and Jonny Westbrooke of the Furniture Makers Company (WCFM).
Jonathan Hindle, Chairman of the BFC, said: “We are aware of a number of administrations and redundancies suffered by the furniture industry as a result of COVID-19 and there are serious concerns that many more businesses will be forced to enter administration in the near future as a result of critical cash flow problems.
“The BFC considers it crucial that the Government supports the furniture and furnishings industry by immediately extending the Business Rates holiday and further supporting the sector through a phased lockdown withdrawal.
“This inquiry will provide a much-needed opportunity to set out what is needed in these unprecedented times and to feed the findings directly into Government.”