Last week, the British Furniture Confederation (BFC) wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, highlighting the challenges faced by the sector as a result of Covid-19 and asking that he consider measures to help alleviate the problems faced by the furniture and furnishings sector.

The BFC has suggested that the Chancellor considers extending the 12-month Business Rates holiday to the furniture industry including all furniture manufacturing sites and B1 furniture-related commercial spaces. The BFC believes that this would provide further support to the sector that has a turnover of £12.2b, employing 123,000 skilled individuals in over 8700 businesses.

The BFC has also continued to engage with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), regularly communicating with officials in the department about the difficulties caused by the pandemic, and highlighting the need for clarity around business closures and who should be going to work. The department states that it has understood the BFC's concerns and has directed it to Government guidance that can be found here, which should cover what businesses should be doing and how they should support their employees.

Officials in BEIS are keen to hear about the challenges faced by businesses as a result of Covid-19. Anyone with specific issues should get in touch with their trade association, which can feed any comments through to BEIS.

On 23rd March, the BFC published a summary of relevant business support made available by the Government. The BFC will produce further such guidance when updates have been announced. An up-to-date list of Government support available to businesses can also be found here.

In communications with BEIS and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the BFC has welcomed the Job Retention scheme, the VAT deferral scheme and the Business Interruption Loan scheme, while stating that industry needs further information as soon as possible and has called for further support.

The BFC has also been in contact with the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group (APPFIG), keeping it up-to-date with the concerns of the industry. The APPFIG is planning to meet via video conference to discuss in greater detail the challenges faced by the furniture industry. The APPFIG's members are supportive of the industry, and the BFC will continue to liaise with the group through the outbreak.