Business leader calls for certainty over future lockdowns

The government needs to be clear on what would trigger another lockdown, according to a county business leader.

Shropshire Chamber of Commerce's director of business has urged the government to be clear over what would trigger another lockdown.
Shropshire Chamber of Commerce's director of business has urged the government to be clear over what would trigger another lockdown.

Ruth Ross, director of business at Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said there is concern amongst county firms over what could lead to another shutdown.

It comes with many companies in the midst of a fragile recovery after more than 18 months of stop-start lockdowns and restrictions.

She has also called for clarity on what support would be provided to businesses in the event of lockdown returning, and whether it would mean restoring the furlough scheme.

She said: “As we prepare to move into the winter season, businesses are acutely aware that there is a danger of a sharp rise in Covid cases.

“What businesses really need to know is the threshold for the return of any restrictions – and most importantly of all, the type of support they might reasonably expect to get if it happens.

“For example, will it be possible for companies to re-activate furlough in the event of another lockdown, as other countries are offering?

“With employers already wrestling with the implications of the changes in National Insurance announced by the Government last week, they need to know there are no nasty surprises around the corner.”

She added: “We are not expecting the Government to try to predict the future – merely to give businesses the confidence that if the pandemic does return with a vengeance, they won’t be left behind.”

The latest economic forecast from the British Chambers of Commerce suggests business investment is falling, indicating a very patchy and brittle level of current confidence.

Claire Walker, co-executive director at the chamber, said businesses needed a proper contingency.

She said: “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.

“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."

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