The Federation of Small Businesses has warned of a ‘perfect storm’ for firms in Wales.
The body has pointed to upcoming business rates payments due in April and the ending of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said: “The First Minister has not yet given any indication as to when businesses would be likely to reopen, which has resulted in many firms feeling an acute level of anxiety about how they will manage to meet the financial obligations that are around the corner.
“Welsh Government must take swift action to remove the cliff edge that many firms feel that they are facing and provide reassurance to those businesses. We must remember that for Wales to have a strong economic recovery from coronavirus we will need these same businesses to be a part of it.
“We reiterate our call to the First Minister to provide some indications to businesses of the route map out of lockdown so that they can plan and make the decisions they need to in order to survive.
“We are approaching a critical milestone for thousands of businesses in Wales, and if this period is not managed properly many firms may find themselves unable to keep afloat during this particularly difficult phase of the pandemic.”
The Welsh Government has so far handed out £1.75 billion in business support.
But a recent report by the Wales Fiscal Analysis team at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre has claimed there is currently £655m in unallocated business support.
The Welsh Conservatives have called for the money to be released.
Leader Andrew RT Davies said: “People in Wales will rightly be shocked at the findings of the report that show a scandalous £655m is still sitting waiting to be spent as we remain in the grip of this wretched pandemic.
“Businesspeople, especially in the SME and hospitality sectors, who have seen trade dry up quite literally overnight in some cases, will find it hard to fathom that Labour is hoarding this amount of cash when it should be allocated and spent to protect both Welsh lives and livelihoods, and not be handed out as a sweetener as we approach the Senedd election in May.
“A failure on this scale by a government is unforgivable.”
However, the Welsh Government has said it has to keep the money back as the pandemic continues to support businesses going forward.
A spokesman said: “We have consistently provided the most generous business support package anywhere in the UK throughout this pandemic.
“The report cited confirms that we have committed more in funding for business support than we have received as Wales’ share of similar spending in England.”
They added: “There are still the best part of two months left this year and it would not have been sensible to have allocated all of the money available already. The last time the UK Government provided details of their spending plans this year, in November, they were still holding Covid reserves of £25bn.”
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