1:42 PM 14th September 2021
Business Left In The Dark On Winter COVID Contingency Plan
Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director of the BCC, said:
Image by Pete Linforth
“Businesses will be encouraged by the announcements around further steps being taken to protect people from Covid and reduce its spread as we move into the winter season.
“But they will be frustrated by the inability of the Government to give them any detail around what circumstances could lead to new restrictions and what support firms could get.
“Many businesses have adapted and adjusted to keep our economy moving forward. They have been getting on with the job, despite a lack of clarity around guidance which means they are still negotiating a legal minefield.
“They desperately want to know what support they will be offered if the worst happens. We would also like to see furlough - and other support measures - put permanently on the shelf so they can be activated if there is a further lockdown. It’s a system that is proven to work in Germany and ensures business has the confidence to keep investing.
“We are not asking the government to look into a crystal ball and predict the future in minute detail. We are simply asking that they give businesses the assurance as to what will happen if the pandemic spikes again and that they will not be left behind.
“It is also vital that any changes to the traffic light system for international travel are communicated to the aviation industry as soon as possible, and well before October 1. It remains one of the few sectors unable to fully reopen and government must find additional ways to support it.
“Our latest economic forecast suggests business investment is falling, and with the new national insurance levy introduced last week, firms need to know there aren’t going to be any more surprises.
“A proper contingency plan should give businesses the confidence they need to move on from just surviving to growing, thriving and leading the way out of the coronavirus crisis.”
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief Policy Director, said:
“For the Winter Plan A to be a success, the government needs to learn the lessons of the summer to ensure people are confident in living with virus.
“Key to this will be boosting the confidence of workers to go to work; of customers to go to shops; and of businesses to stay open.
“Business is clear that the government must leave no stone unturned in its efforts to keep the economy open. The UK’s world leading vaccine programme should underpin these efforts, but just as important will be maximising the role that monitoring, therapeutics and free, mass testing can play in driving confidence.
“The government can also support responsible businesses by utilising all the available covid secure tools at our disposal, from good hygiene and ventilation processes to the use of face coverings.
“Finally, confidence requires certainty. Clear forward guidance for firms about what measures will be introduced under Plan B should infection rates rise will maximise their ability to plan with certainty. Transparency about how and when those decisions will be made is essential.”