BUSINESS leaders are calling on the government to do everything it can to help companies over the winter period.

Craig Oakes, president of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce, believes the lead up to Christmas - often the busiest time for many businesses - needs to be taken advantage of.

But he says that businesses are unable to prepare as much as they would like to because of a lack of clarity from Westminster and has called for more support for small businesses.

He said: "From our point of view, we would like to see the government give a bit more clarity in their thinking and make things a bit more clear to businesses about how they can proceed going forward.

"Hopefully they give businesses a bit more time when we come out of things like restrictions and lockdown but it seems every time like they are leaving everything until the last minute.

"That could give businesses a chance in this next chapter of Covid-19 with this winter period, then after that we need to see a longer term plan about how businesses can prepare for the next year."

With big tourism enterprises like Haven and Swanage Railway announcing job cuts due to the impact of the pandemic, Mr Oakes believes small businesses will also be feeling the pinch.

"Small businesses will get into the position where it is too much for them," he said. "They have done as much as they can during this period, they have got by, but they won't be able to last like this forever.

"With two big businesses like Haven and Swanage Railway cutting staff I think that's a sign of the time, everyone is struggling, and they won't be the last.

"Business is very important. It's the life blood of most communities because it employs people and trains people. It's not just about the money, these are people's lives.

"To small businesses I would say, you will get through this chapter and things will be better. Over the last year, certainly in our area of Weymouth and Portland, we have seen a quite unprecedented community effort to pull together and they have amazingly continued to work in spite of what's happening and have adapted. We haven't seen that many businesses go under in the area and that's quite a testament to the people and how they've looked after each other."