We are barely three months into 2020, yet this year is already proving to be one of the most difficult for our local businesses and communities.

Hot on the heels of the recent flooding, which affected large swathes of the country and indeed this county, we have a rapidly escalating outbreak of the coronavirus. These types of event have profound impacts upon people and businesses.

Of course, measures to protect personal health and well-being are the number one priority. However, such unprecedented circumstances mean that it is also important to protect businesses. Especially small businesses, many of which do not have the resources to tackle, or absorb the impact of, such huge and successive economic shocks.

On a positive note, last week’s budget contained a raft of measures to support enterprise. Many reflected our work with Government and policymakers to secure backing for the nation’s 5.8 million small businesses.

There were general measures to ease their financial burdens, including a Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs, plus small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief.

In addition, there were specific measures to help businesses cope with the fallout from coronavirus. These included a statutory sick pay relief package for small business and a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

While very welcome, some of these initiatives have been pushed through very quickly. As a result, there is a degree of uncertainty about how they will work in practice. We are working closely with government departments to clarify how support will be delivered so that we can advise small businesses via our website, as soon as possible.

As we all work through these challenging and fast-moving times, it is vital that business owners access up to the minute advice and full details of the support available to them.

They can find both from our website fsb.org.uk and also the Government online portal, gov.uk.