That's what the Outdoor Industries Association is calling for. The extension to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Scheme is a move in the right direction, but doesn't go far enough...

Scrap the FMD loan surcharge!

The Outdoor Industries Association is strongly urging the government to offer outdoor businesses an emergency interest free loan scheme.

"The outdoor sector, which relies on the countryside being accessible to everyone, is worth £750 million a year. We believe this figure will be dramatically hit, already three quarters of our members are suffering significant losses because of the foot and mouth crisis," said Andy Airey, vice-chairman of the OIA.

"To offer these businesses a so-called lifeline with one hand in the form of SBLGS and then take it away with the other in the form of additional interest, especially on deferred payments, is a complete farce.

"Businesses are starting to close, they are shedding people now and these unemployed are going straight onto benefits as no-one is recruiting. Surely it would be better to offer these businesses interest free loans to carry them through the next few months to ensure that they are still in place to generate wealth as and when things ease up."

A recent survey carried out by the OIA revealed that 81 percent of its members are

unhappy with the way the government has handled the crisis. 30 percent of

manufacturers and 37 percent of retailers have already had to reduce staffing

levels. 76 percent of manufacturers have been asked to postpone deliveries and 62 percent

have had orders cancelled.

"These statistics are very worrying and demonstrate the need for action by the government to prevent the outdoor sector becoming yet another casualty

of the foot and mouth crisis," concluded Andy Airey.

Perhaps the BA and the ACT would like to join with the OIA on this one? If so, they should call Andrew Maxted on 020 8842 or email him on The more voices that get raised, the better.

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