While the Budget contained some concessions on credit trade insurance, which should help get orders sanctioned and move more product through the pipeline, the new scheme is far from ideal.
It falls short by not helping those companies that have had insurance completely removed, those with confirmed orders prior to April 1 2009 or those importing from the Far East who need more than 120 days cover. And the new top-up scheme only runs until the end of the year. So what happens after that?
Given that the upturn is unlikely to be right around the corner as the Chancellor suggested, the British Clothing Industry Association (BCIA) will continue to put pressure on the government to make sure that not only does the existing scheme continue past December 31 2009, but that it is less restrictive and also covers exports.
In the meantime, our members will be trying to understand why cover has been removed from certain retailers, while others are trying to fathom out why insurance firms are not operating on the same level playing field - with one giving cover and another not for the same retailer.
However, while the industry pulled together on trade credit insurance, there are other thorny subjects on which the BCIA is determined to lobby government.
For instance, the minimum wage - we believe the government should not support any increase in October and have emphasised this to the Low Pay Commission. And business rates - while councils are expected to offer to defer part of this year’s increase for two years, the boost industry really needs is for there to be no increase. If you have a view on any of this, please let me know.
- Peter Lucas is chairman of the British Clothing Industry Association and chairman of supplier BMB Group