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BFC: furniture sector needs support through the summer

UpholsteryproductionThe British Furniture Confederation has called on the chancellor to provide further support for furniture manufacturers through the summer.

The group says companies need the support to prevent large-scale redundancies and maintain their survival until stores re-open.

In a letter to the chancellor, Jonathan Hindle, BFC chairman says if the UK furniture industry is to return to pre-pandemic levels of business – supporting 330,000 jobs and worth nearly £17bn of annual consumer expenditure – he must extend the Job Retention Scheme and the VAT deferral period until the end of June 2021 and extend the business rates holiday for another three months.

‘If the government wishes the sector to return to previous levels, it is vital that it supports businesses through the remaining months of the pandemic. The government’s current package of support has proved pivotal to the survival of the UK furniture industry.’

He points out that many businesses across the furniture industry have only been able to continue employing staff at current levels because of the job retention scheme.  He says without the support of furlough payments, many in the furniture industry would be forced to make significant redundancies. 

With VAT deferrals until June also critical to business survival, the letter further asks the chancellor for quarter one VAT bills to be deferred for 12 months, adding: ‘VAT deferrals have allowed businesses to better manage their stretched cashflow while taking full advantage of the irregular bursts of trading during periods of relaxed restrictions.

‘With orders for domestic furniture being predominantly in store rather than online, furniture retailers are critical to the survival of many furniture manufacturers. It is therefore vital that the government does all it can to allow retail businesses to continue trading, so that when restrictions are relaxed, orders for furniture can commence again and manufacturing businesses across the UK can respond,’ he says.