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‘It’ll be a year before things get better’ - Businesses reflect on recovery prospects

PUBLISHED: 15:53 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:40 22 June 2020

Emma Jarvis from the Hair Base says she's expecting it to be a full year before her business might recover, even with the government's business interruption grant. Picture: James Bass

Emma Jarvis from the Hair Base says she's expecting it to be a full year before her business might recover, even with the government's business interruption grant. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

A seaside council has provided financial support to almost nine-tenths of the borough’s businesses over the course of the pandemic, but 70pc say it will take them longer than six months to recover.

The council has provided £29.2m worth of grants to local businesses over the course of the pandemic. Picture: James BassThe council has provided £29.2m worth of grants to local businesses over the course of the pandemic. Picture: James Bass

In an impact assessment report tiled ‘Pathway to Recovery’, Great Yarmouth Borough Council revealed that grants totalling £29.2m were divvied up between 2,594 eligible businesses - with 87pc of local businesses receiving financial support one way or another.

But while these short-term grants and government wage cover has been essential for keeping businesses and individuals afloat, the longer-term picture is looking a lot less rosy.

Almost 500 jobs in the area have been lost, while the Department of Work and Pensions registered 2,863 new claimants of Universal Credit from within the borough between March 1 and May 14.

More job losses are expected as the government’s furlough scheme ends - which, as of June, was supporting 10,900 people across Great Yarmouth.

Simon Wainwright, owner of SW1 Restaurant, said that his business will be “hoping for the best but expecting the worst” when the hospitality sector is permitted to re-open.

He said: “Realistically, I’m not looking at our income recovering and turnover getting back to where it was until at least next April.

87pc of businesses in the borough of Great Yarmouth have received financial support. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY87pc of businesses in the borough of Great Yarmouth have received financial support. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Even when people are allowed to return to restaurants, I don’t expect to see many desperate to eat out for a long time yet.

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“There may be initial interest, yes, but with social distancing precautions in place there’s no chance we’ll be able to host the big events, parties or group gatherings that really make the money.

He added: “Everyone will be on edge. What if someone coughs or sneezes in the restaurant? It might end up clearing the place out.”

Simon Wainwright from SW1 Restaurant said that December is one of their busiest months because of large group gatherings, but that won't be happening again for a long time yet.  Picture: James Bass PhotographySimon Wainwright from SW1 Restaurant said that December is one of their busiest months because of large group gatherings, but that won't be happening again for a long time yet. Picture: James Bass Photography

For Hairbase owner Emma Jarvis, the picture is similarly bleak.

She said: “Our industry forecasting is looking at a full year for recovery.

“Although there’s clearly high demand for stylists once we’re given the green light for re-opening, we’re essentially working at 50pc capacity.

“I’d usually have 12 stylists in on a normal working day, but that’s going to have to be cut down to four.

Mr Wainwright said he expects it to be 'next April' before things start picking up. Photo: Simon WainwrightMr Wainwright said he expects it to be 'next April' before things start picking up. Photo: Simon Wainwright

“We also need fifteen minutes between each client to properly sanitise the stations and avoid “cluster time” between different appointments.

“If everything’s going great in six months time I’ll be the last person to say ‘I told you so’, but right now, we’re pretty confident it’ll be a year before things get better.”


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