... Small businesses and social enterprises were also among those hoping for a helping hand as they face up to ever-increasing costs.
At the Union Street-based Plymouth Furniture Reuse Project, co-director Bill McCoy said he was disappointed not to hear the announcement of measures offsetting the looming VAT hike.
Mr McCoy said: "When we started we took five guys off the dole – but where is the incentive? VAT and corporation tax is money that could kill us and I've got to find money for guys' wages at the end of every week.
"I think there's a bit of fear out there and I think things will get tougher all round. We know there's been a lot of waste, but from a business perspective it's going to get harder and harder." ...
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PLYMOUTH'S Resettlement Agency will live on in Stonehouse under a new name thanks to two former employees.The Herald revealed in January how the not-for-profit community agency was facing insolvency over an unpaid £24,000 tax bill.
All 20 members of staff at its three stores – one in Cornwall Street and two in Union Street – were made redundant after a loss-making 2009.
But former workers Bill McCoy and Paul Gates were determined to keep up its good work. Now the pair have launched the brand new Plymouth Furniture Re-Use Project at the Resettlement Agency's former 97 Union Street base.
"We've got those same values – but this is a new business and a new start," said Bill. "We were both made redundant with immediate effect on January 18 and straight away we decided to look at it ourselves. "We knew that by not putting stuff into landfill sites we could take it back here and work in partnership here.
"We knew that there was definitely a gap in the market and we knew there was an identified need in the local area. We're in Union Street so we're seeing that need every day; Stonehouse is one of the most deprived areas in the UK."
The directors have taken on two van drivers and a fifth member of staff responsible for administration and support, while volunteers complete the team. They are now forging links with the Probation Service, Plymouth City Council's housing department, Plymouth Access to Housing, the Royal British Legion and Chris Shorey Lettings.
That means some of those referred on to the service can end up with furniture completely free of charge.
One Stonehouse couple, who were referred to the project by the Citizens' Advice Bureau, received bunk beds, a double bed with a head board, a television and TV unit, sofas, a fridge-freezer, a coffee table, wardrobe and kitchen utensils.
Bill added: "We are confident this will work out. We're a small little project and we're not going to take on anything we can't handle. We don't have aspirations of grandeur, but we really want to make a difference to peoples' lives."
Anyone who has unwanted furniture in a reasonable condition can arrange a free collection by calling the project on 01752 600277.
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