Magic money tree has propped us up, but it is due to be felled soon

Darryl Danielli
Monday, March 1, 2021

Back in September, a consortium of printing industry trade bodies gloomily wrote to the chancellor Rishi Sunak warning him that 3,000 print business would be at risk of sinking without a trace if lockdown restrictions weren’t eased and the industry didn’t receive some form of targeted relief.

Printweek editor, Darryl Danielli
Printweek editor, Darryl Danielli

Well, five months on and despite neither being forthcoming from Westminster – although the furlough scheme and other support packages were extended for all – the sector bodies’ worst fears have, fortunately, not come to pass.

In fact, as unlikely as it sounds, according to The Insolvency Service, company insolvencies were actually lower in 2020 than they were in 2019. Crazy, right.

But there is a definite sense that we’re in the eye of the storm and, from a business perspective at least, the worst is yet to come, because as the restrictions are eased, inoculations ramp up and society starts to normalise, then the real challenges will begin for many firms.

Simply put, the magic money tree might have a few more shakes left in it, but not many – and the end is in sight for much of the government’s coronavirus largesse.

And then some of the ominous warnings of last year might prove prescient.

Of course, the looming cliff-edges for many of the support packages, such as furlough, will most probably morph into more gentle descents – but they will come to an end in the not too distant future.

And as a result, the coming months are going to be critical for many businesses as it’s unlikely that every sector the industry serves will recover from the pandemic at the same rate as the relief ebbs.

So, time is running out for becalmed businesses to set a new course and find fresh wind, because if they don’t then they risk drifting onto the rocks.

Darryl Danielli, editor, Printweek

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