19 November 2020
With England halfway through its second national lockdown, the CBI is calling on the Government to take three steps today to power recovery tomorrow.
Businesses are determined to bounce back strongly and play their part in rebuilding the economy. That’s possible if the UK Government learns lessons from its own and others’ experience this year.
Clarity on a lockdown exit strategy, ensuring ongoing support and rolling out successful mass rapid testing will help firms, employees and communities end the year with more confidence.
The CBI is calling on the government to:
- Publish a detailed exit strategy and guidance with at least 7 days warning. This will help business prepare, strengthen supply and boost consumer confidence. It should include forward guidance on what to expect from 3 December to help businesses protect jobs, transparent evidence for restrictions and a formal review
- Where closures or restrictions are still required, give long-term certainty on the business support available to firms and their supply chains. This will support investment and employment decisions today, that are so vital to next year’s recovery.
- Provide regular updates of the mass testing pilots and work with firms on deploying rapid testing in workplaces. A new approach to mass testing, including the involvement of businesses, can help keep the economy open and protect jobs until a vaccine is delivered.
Action at local level will also be critical to supporting businesses. The CBI is encouraging local authorities to continue their close engagement with local businesses, to act quickly and transparently in the allocation of business grant funding.
Josh Hardie, acting CBI Director-General, said:
“Business and government have learnt many hard lessons this year. Now it’s time to use them to our advantage. As the end of lockdown 2 in England approaches, planning and preparation is everything if businesses are to hit the ground running.
“For many firms, the start of December is their most important trading period. A clear, well-communicated exit strategy can help them salvage the best from a bad year.
“Public health must always be the number one priority. But that shouldn’t come at an unnecessary cost to the economy.
“Forewarned is forearmed. Sensible notice of future changes makes it that much easier for a business’ ability to plan ahead, mobilising their supply chains and staff. Business wants a commitment to at least 7 days’ warning of what future restrictions in England will look like from 3 December.
“We saw in Wales how forward guidance before the end of the circuit-breaker helped. It avoided an unnecessary scramble of firms struggling to work out if and how they can have premises open at the eleventh hour. Let’s learn from that.
“Understanding the rules matters too – it helps build compliance and confidence for everyone. So whether tiers are toughened or not, showing the evidence behind any lifting or extension of restrictions will help immeasurably. And if closures are still required, long-term clarity on what further support might be available for firms is vital.
“Local authorities will also have their part to play. They must continue to speak to local businesses to see where the need is greatest. The distribution of grant funding to businesses must be quicker, decisive and transparent.
“Even in the toughest of times, there are reasons to be optimistic. With the right financial measures and exit plan in place, collaboration on mass rapid testing and a vaccine on the horizon, many firms will be able to look to the future. A strong short-term plan can protect vulnerable communities and be a catalyst for longer term ambition and action.”