BFC: COVID-19 activity review
The British Furniture Confederation (BFC) has issued an update on their activity in relation to COVID-19. Actions taken include:
Letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer
On 25 March 2020, the BFC wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, highlighting the challenges faced by the sector as a result of COVID-19. They asked that he consider measures to help alleviate the problems faced by the furniture and furnishings sector.
The BFC has suggested to the Chancellor that he considers extending the 12-month Business Rates holiday to the furniture industry including all furniture manufacturing sites and B1 furniture related commercial spaces. The BFC believes that this would provide further support to the sector that has a turnover of £12.2 billion employing 123,000 highly skilled individuals in over 8,700 businesses.
Liaising with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The BFC has continued to proactively engage with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), regularly communicating with officials in the Department about the difficulties caused by COVID-19.
The BFC has highlighted the need for clarity around business closures and who should be going to work. The Department has understood their concerns and directed them to Government guidance that can be found here. This guidance should cover what business should be doing and how they should support their employees.
Officials in BEIS are keen to hear about the challenges faced by businesses as a result of COVID-19. If you have any specific issues please get in touch with your trade association, who can feed any comments through to BEIS.
Summary of current business support
On 23 March, the BFC published a summary of relevant business support made available by the Government. The BFC will produce further such guidance when updates have been announced. An up-to-date list of Government support, available to businesses, can also be found here.
In communications with BEIS and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the BFC has welcomed the Job Retention scheme, the VAT deferral scheme and the Business Interruption Loan scheme while stating that industry needs further information as soon as possible and have called for further support.
Working with the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group
The BFC has been in contact with the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG) keeping them up- to-date on the concerns of the industry. The APPFIG is planning to meet, via video conference, to discuss in greater details the challenges faced by the furniture industry.
Members of the APPFIG are supportive of industry and the BFC will continue to liaise with the Group through the COVID-19 outbreak.