Business leaders call for more support as survey shows devastating impact of Omicron

Business leaders call for more support as survey shows devastating impact of Omicron

A new business survey into the impact of Omicron on the Lincolnshire visitor economy highlights the sector is in a critical condition with long-term support required immediately.

In anticipation of Government action, Visit Lincoln – the county’s Destination Management Organisation (DMO) – launched a survey to better understand the impacts of Omicron on businesses in the visitor economy, and to ensure lobbying efforts calling for support could be substantiated by data.

The survey is being supported by the Federation of Small Businesses, Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership who all also have links into national Government and councils through their networks.

The survey will be live until the New Year, but data collected over the last 7 days was downloaded and shared with Government officials to make sure Lincolnshire was properly represented.

Sadly, this early data shows how Omicron is having a catastrophic impact on the Greater Lincolnshire visitor economy sector:

 

  • 83% of Greater Lincolnshire businesses who completed the survey have already been impacted by Omicron in December due to cancellations, reduced footfall and rising costs.

 

  • 61% of Greater Lincolnshire businesses who completed the survey have seen turnover losses of at least 25% since the beginning of December.

 

  • 73% of respondents thought they needed Government to reinstate financial support and interventions in 2022.

 

  • 41% of respondents said they thought their business could fail in 2022 because of the ongoing impact of Covid.

The data from the Greater Lincolnshire Survey is also being used to inform other influential parties.

A briefing paper has been written for representatives in the House of Lords, the data has been shared with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Tourism Minister, Visit England, Tourism Alliance, UK Hospitality, and Lincolnshire’s Members of Parliament.

Talking about the latest lobbying work, Charlotte Goy, Chief Executive at Visit Lincoln, said:

“We welcome Tuesday’s news from Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, regarding a £1bn fund of cash grants, but against the undisputable long-term challenges that businesses are facing I call on Government to go much further. These grants should serve as a short-term, pre-Christmas fix with the New Year promising a sustainable and extended support package.

“We’ve been talking to businesses who have lost tens of thousands of pounds in December alone, not to mention the huge losses they have had over the last 2 years; and whilst the grants will offer an injection of much needed cash, what is really needed is a long-term programme of support throughout 2022. These packages could include keeping the VAT rate low for the sector, help with costs of premises, a targeted furlough scheme as well as additional funding.”

Nicky van der Drift, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (GLLEP) Visitor Economy Board and Chief Executive of International Bomber Command Centre, added:

“The Visitor Economy is a pivotal in making Greater Lincolnshire a brilliant place to live, work and visit. Only with further measures can we ensure Lincolnshire’s businesses survive now and flourish in the future.”

Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive, Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“These results make for very hard reading and whilst we welcome the recent announcement for additional grant funding for visitor economy businesses which will provide a respite to many of those hard-hitting businesses, it is, however, just a starting point and if restrictions persist or are tightened, then much more is needed to be done, a wider support package is required, equal to the scale of any new measures, put in place.”

Katrina Pierce, Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, added:

“This week’s announcement from the Chancellor that £1 billion of support is being made available for hospitality and leisure businesses is warmly welcomed and much needed. However, the results from this survey do make for stark and concerning reading and there is a fear that the grants simply won’t go far enough to save valued Lincolnshire businesses from collapse.

"Much more is needed to be done, a wider support package is required."

“FSB’s ten-point plan, which includes increasing the business rates relief from 77% to 100%, reviving the Jobs Retention Bonus and reducing employer national insurance contributions, would give businesses the breathing space they desperately need. I encourage as many relevant businesses as possible to take part in this survey so we can collectively gather critical evidence and add extra weight to our lobbying calls.”

Visit Lincoln continues to liaise with Government to lobby for further support for businesses across Greater Lincolnshire. Business leaders and business owners across the county are being urged to fill out the survey and share it with their networks to ensure their experiences of Greater Lincolnshire businesses are heard. The survey will stay open until 31st December 2021: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VisitorEconomyBizSurvey

For further comment or interview, please contact Charlotte Goy directly on 07891449839

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