INVERCLYDE'S businesses stand ready to 'hit the ground running' once lockdown restrictions are eased — but nearly one-in-four face imminent collapse.

A poll conducted by Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce shows signs of local companies benefitting from government support schemes.

But the 'vast majority' of local firms continue to fear for their survival.

Nearly two-thirds of businesses surveyed (62 per cent) declared they would be ready in a week, or even less, to resume trading.

However, more than three-quarters of respondents (76 per cent) insisted that clarity of direction from government was still needed in order to make a recovery.

Meanwhile, 60 per cent of those surveyed said they still required financial support.

Almost all said loss of income threatened their survival, while 69 per cent said plummeting cash flow was their most significant clear and present danger.

Worryingly, just over a third are concerned at the possibility of having to make people redundant.

Almost a quarter say they face imminent collapse in the next two months and 42 per cent fear they will not survive if lockdown conditions persist.

Chamber of Commerce president, Gavin McDonagh, says the district's businesses are clearly 'bruised' by the crisis and some remain 'likely to fail'.

Mr McDonagh added: "But those that are ready and able to get back to work are showing some signs of confidence they could make it through.

"What is clearly needed now is guidance, specific to sectors, on how to return to work in a way that is safe for employees, customers and the wider population.

"This survey shows that support from the range of schemes launched by both the Scottish and UK governments are having an impact.

"As well as a need for guidelines, there is still a demand for continued support to ensure that businesses lead us out of this economic collapse."

The Chamber president welcomed the recent decision to extend the job retention scheme but says the government must focus on infrastructure investment, childcare and skills development to support business in the recovery period.

Mr McDonagh added: "Recent moves to extend the popular furlough scheme were welcome, but there are still concerns for businesses, particularly those in manufacturing or those reliant on tourism, whether the extension is enough.

"There's still the risk the scheme will run out before businesses have enough income to pay staff.

"Another concern is the VAT deferral scheme being utilised by businesses in the short-term, which begins to stack debt and cash flow problems for later months should the economy not return to some kind of pre-Covid19 levels."

Mr McDonagh also issued a plea to any local firms struggling to keep their workforces intact.

He said: "The biggest concern is the feedback regarding the possibility of mass redundancies, and the Chamber implores any businesses requiring support to get in touch with us."