The FTA is calling for an extension to the government’s furlough scheme, “sympathetic” repayment terms on government loans taken out during the pandemic and post-pandemic funding for the logistics industry to ensure the rapid recovery of the UK’s supply chain.

Under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for a grant covering 80% of all furloughed employees monthly wages, up to £2,500 a month.

Currently the scheme only runs until 31 May, which the FTA says is not long enough.

Elizabeth de Jong, FTA policy director, said: “Job security is vital to logistics workers hit by furloughing or uncertain trading conditions and FTA’s members are keen to see government deliver and extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to provide certainty of employment.”

De Jong added that once the pandemic is over the logistics industry in particular will need additional financial support to recover.

“In our view it is also paramount that a Supply Chain Continuation Fund is created, to give particular help and support to specific areas and sectors hardest hit by the economic slow-down, including key infrastructure points – so the goods keep moving,” she said.

The association also wants the government to make sure businesses taking out loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) are not crippled by harsh repayment terms.

The scheme, which comes into operation today (6 April) provides up to £5m of financial support to smaller businesses hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

De Jong said: “We will be requesting a sympathetic repayment plan, dependent on profits having returned first. Businesses need to be able to restructure or defer loan repayments to banks, to keep their finances as robust as possible as they take on the challenges posed by the pandemic as well as rebuilding once the situation returns to normal. Excessive charges could see business placed under even more stress which could have a knock on effect on an economy weakened by the pressures caused by COVID-19.”