The IPIA and BAPC have announced that a meeting with the government’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has given them ’cause to be confident’ about the support the print sector will receive from Westminster.

At the meeting, which took place on 15 April, the organisations stressed the ‘critical need for a recovery glide path to be implemented for initiatives such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.’

For its part, BEIS confirmed that the government was consulting on a series of strategies to ensure that industries such as print ‘did not go over a cliff edge as restrictions are lifted.’  Specifically, this means that a graduated approach to the withdrawal of Covid-19 business support mechanisms was being explored.

‘Our meeting with BEIS was very productive and inspired a tremendous amount of confidence about the government’s plans to support industries such as ours when we move into the post Covid-19 recovery phase,’ said IPIA chairman Graeme Smith. ‘BEIS also recognised that the print industry is a decisive barometer for the economic health of every other sector of our economy and is intrinsically linked with each of the UK’s major industrial bases.’

Other support

Other recommendations the organisations made to BEIS include:

  • A time-limited and government-backed book debt loan scheme

  • Suspension for 12 months of auto-enrolment pension fees for employers

  • A total suspension of VAT on print and merchandising material for two years following the lifting of restrictions

  • A substantial increase in capital equipment allowances

Mr Smith continued, ‘We presented the findings of our Covid-19 Business Impact Survey to BEIS, in addition to the initial feedback from our new Finance and Recovery Survey, to provide them with intelligence as to the far-reaching economic damage being caused to our industry by this crisis.

‘Among the recommendations we made based on this research was the need for a glide path for the eventual withdrawal of government business support schemes.

‘Another key recommendation is that the Job Retention Scheme needs further flexibility built into it for when restrictions are lifted, and demand starts to flow back into the system.

‘Specifically, that a staff member’s designated furlough period could be split up over the course of the scheme, instead of having to be taken in one continuous block. Or at least that the minimum furlough period that has to be taken consecutively be reduced to two weeks.’

Help where it’s needed 

The representatives from the IPIA and BAPC also provided feedback from the print industry on the poor provision of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), and how it could be adapted to provide greater financial confidence and support to sectors such as ours. 

A strong case was also made to BEIS about the inclusion of print businesses in the £25,000 Grant Scheme for hospitality, retail and leisure where they can prove they have significant exposure to these sectors. BEIS explained they have been making representations to the Treasury on this specific issue on behalf of several industries with a similar level of exposure. It requested that information and case-studies continue to be provided to them to aid these discussions.

Finally, the two organisations have jointly launched The Sourcing Bridge, which will link up appropriate companies to ensure they can continue to access suitable trade suppliers or partners to help them through this crisis.