Dorset Chamber has urged businesses to seize coronavirus funding after a survey showed that just one per cent of firms had successfully accessed coronavirus loans nationally.

It has warned that many firms are on a cliff edge after the latest results of the British Chamber of Commerce’s (BCC) weekly Business Impact Tracker were revealed.

The barometer – the largest independent survey of its kind in the UK – found that:

* only one per cent of firms had successfully accessed the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS)

* eight per cent of firms had been unsuccessful in getting a CIBLS loan

* just seven per cent of firms were receiving grants

* 57 per cent of firms had only three months of cash in reserve or less

* six per cent of respondents have already run out of cash

* 37 per cent were planning to furlough between 75 to 100 per cent of their workforce over the coming week

The Dorset Chamber – the county’s leading business support organisation – has been urging businesses to apply for all of the help on offer.

Chief executive Ian Girling said: “These results show that some businesses face a cliff-edge scenario.

“We’ve seen a big jump in the number of firms furloughing staff, and many are now starting to apply for access to government loan and grant schemes to keep themselves afloat.

“Yet our research suggests that support is only starting to reach firms on the ground.

“We are pleased that the Chancellor is listening and responding to our calls to strengthen the existing support.

“Improvements to the CBILS scheme should help more businesses get access to the cash they need over the coming days and weeks.

“This could be the difference between survival and insolvency for many firms.”

Ian added: “Support is there for businesses. According to the survey results, the majority of firms know about it but haven’t successfully applied as yet.

“In Dorset, our councils have been moving very swiftly to get support out for businesses, as has the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

“We would encourage all businesses to be proactive and consider every single ounce of assistance available.”

The BCC survey received more than 1,000 responses from businesses nationwide, including those from Dorset.

The complexity of the application process and a slow or lack of response from the relevant body were cited as reasons for those who were unsuccessful in CIBLS loans applications although it is hoped an overhaul of the scheme will improve adoption.

Dorset Chamber delivers the Dorset Gateway programme on behalf of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which has ramped up resources to increase the support available.

The Chamber is also:

· regularly updating a special coronavirus section on its website

· publishing a digital newsletter with details of the latest help available

· providing support online, including webinars

· giving updates through a daily video message on LinkedIn by chief executive Ian Girling

· signposting other support available through local authorities and organisations

The Dorset Chamber county’s voice of business is accredited to the BCC.

Visit the chamber’s coronavirus hub on its website for more information and to request support at https://www.dorsetchamber.co.uk/business-support/coronavirus-covid-19/.

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