Businesses want say in planning way out of lockdown

Covid19 road layout

Business leaders have called on the government to work with them to plot the route out of lockdown.

England has been under strict rules since the beginning of January, with Boris Johnson said to be aiming to announce his road map towards easing restrictions by the week of February 22.

Businesses want advance warning from the government on whether their sectors will be among the first allowed to reopen and how any new tier system will work to allow them to plan. In a letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, the Confederation of British Industry, which represents 190,000 British businesses, said that the government must make clear which industries will be considered low, medium or high risk, while it called for clarity on whether local tiering would return and in what form.

“Businesses are currently completely in the dark when planning for the weeks and months ahead and this is hindering investment,” Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said. “We can provide more clarity and do the prep work now to enable them to plan for reopening and growth.”

The lobby group said it was not attempting to force ministers to set a re-opening date. “The roadmap would be date neutral, and rightly be driven by health data,” Danker added in his letter.

As part of the six-point roadmap, the business group urged the government to think about the next stage of the vaccination programme once the most vulnerable have been innoculated.

“We believe there are strong arguments for phase two of the rollout being done in a way that maximises the safe reopening of the economy, such as prioritising key enablers like schools, transport, and other key public services,” Danker said.

Leisure bosses last night called on the chancellor to extend cuts to value added tax for a year and have a business rates holiday for the next tax year.

“Put simply, hospitality is battling for survival,” Kate Nicholls, head of Hospitality, the industry lobby group, said. “Extending these measures would act as a critical revival system — saving many jobs and setting up the economy for much needed job creation.”