BUSINESS leaders across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole are joining forces to press for further, urgent and more extensive government measures as the devastating effects of the coronavirus shutdown are felt across the whole economy.

In a joint statement, representatives from the Business Improvements Districts (BIDs), Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and local chambers of trade welcomed the action taken so far by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

But they say this is just the first step.

Martin Davies, the chairman of the Bournemouth Town Centre BID said: “Speed is absolutely of the essence in getting financial support into the hands of businesses. A matter of days in delay could be the difference between a business surviving or closing for good. Businesses have already started making staff redundant, it is happening as we speak."

He urged business owners to defer redundancies as help will be available for businesses holding on to their staff.

Mr Davies said there were two immediate and urgent priorities for the government:

◾️Getting cash to businesses by Wednesday at the latest so wages can be paid at the end of next week.

◾️Loan applications processed by Whitehall in the next fortnight or quicker to free up money for staff in April.

He added: “There is simply no time for form filling right now. Instant cash flow is critical. Employees need to be paid and employers need to know they will have the ability to pay them.”

Mr Davies, managing director of Rawlins Davy Solicitors, said government departments must work together quickly and efficiently to ensure bureaucracy and red tape do not get in the way of financial help being delivered fast.

And local MPs are being to urged to do all they can in lobbying the Treasury to get cash flowing to businesses.

He said: “Many, many businesses operate these days on short term reserves. “Without revenue coming in they quickly run out of cash to stay afloat.

“The worst case scenario is jobs disappearing forever and the problem of structural unemployment rearing its head.

“We will get through this crisis but when we do we have to make sure above all that we have a viable, strong and sustainable business community to expand back into. “That work must happen now and keeping people in employment is the key.”

Ian Girling, chief executive of the DCCI said his organisation was keeping a running report of the issues businesses are facing and feeding them back to government.

He added: “It is critical that businesses and business leaders work together and support each other. Bills need to be paid and money needs to keep flowing through the economy.”

◾️All the organisations are looking to pool funds, including the BID levies, to pump a significant amount of money into the local economy to help communities get back up and running when the worst of the crisis is over.