Giving an initial response to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a month-long national lockdown in England, BCC Director General Adam Marshall said:
“There’s no getting around the fact that these new restrictions will be a devastating blow to business communities who have done everything in their power to adapt and operate safely.
“Business and market confidence have been hit hard by the unclear, stop-start approach taken by governments across the UK over the past eight months, with little end in sight. Many firms are in a much weaker position now than at the start of the pandemic, making it far more challenging to survive extended closures or demand restrictions.
“The temporary extension of the furlough scheme will bring short-term relief to many firms, and responds to Chambers’ call for business support to be commensurate with the scale of the restrictions imposed. While there is no substitute for a functioning economy, the full financial support package for businesses facing hardship, whether through loss of demand or closure, must immediately be clarified and communicated. Sustained help must be available to employers, to the self-employed and to the many businesses and individuals that have not been able to access any of the government’s schemes to date.
“The Government must not squander the time afforded to them through another lockdown to enable mass testing and fix Test and Trace systems – which hold the key to a lasting exit strategy for both public health and the economy.
“We will be examining the detail of new restrictions and support carefully over the coming days, together with Chamber business leaders across the country. Business communities will judge them on whether they are clear and evidence-based – and on whether businesses are able to see when these restrictions may come to an end.”