A COACH company owner is concerned about the effects the coronavirus pandemic will have on his business as lockdown eases.

Jim Liddell, of Liddell’s Coaches based in Auchinleck, says the situation is not too bad at the moment whilst he’s in receipt of financial support.

But the real test of his business will come as lockdown measures are eased and he has to begin financing the operation himself.

Business costs are stagnant right now, but as things begin to gear up as we move through the phases outlined by the First Minister two weeks ago, Liddell’s Coaches will find themselves having to pay thousands of pounds in fuel costs alone.

With the uncertainty as to whether people will make bookings with the company, given there are so few events or destinations they can travel to, Liddell’s Coaches may find that their output is outstripping their income.

Jim Liddell said: “We’re totally shut just now, every member of staff bar one has been furloughed. As long as the furlough scheme continues we will be able to keep them on.

“The real trouble’s going to come when we start up again and we have to start paying wages and license fees. We’ve got to fill all the coaches with diesel as well and that’s thousands of pounds.”

The furlough scheme is set to continue until the end of October though changes to the scheme from August will mean that employers will have to contribute to the 80 per cent furlough wage.

This could spell trouble for businesses that are expected to resume trading, but that could face a much reduced demand for their services, such as Liddell’s coaches.

Businesses are operating in a strange kind of financial limbo, waiting on the progression of the virus and announcements from the government. Jim, like everybody else, is waiting on the next piece of advice.

He said: “There’s not much point reading all the updates as it changes so quickly. Until she [Nicola Sturgeon] say’s it we’re all just waiting.”

He’s not alone, a recent Scotianomics survey, revealed that 61 per cent of businesses fear they won’t survive the crisis, despite the massive financial aid and stimulus package being poured into the economy by the government. Similarly, 74 per cent say they anticipate difficulties resuming business activity after lockdown.


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