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East Midlands Chamber News

Businesses require urgent support to avoid lasting damage to economy after second national lockdown confirmed, says East Midlands Chamber

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national lockdown, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Confirmation that we are going into a second national lockdown is hugely disappointing news for businesses that have done everything in their power to adapt and operate safely, and is a clear signal of the Government’s failure to create the world-class test and trace system it had promised us.

“Business and market confidence have been hit hard by the unclear, stop-start approach taken by Government over the past eight months, with little end in sight.

“While we welcome the extension of the furlough scheme, this may not give sufficient confidence to employers to preserve jobs in the long term.

“It’s also important to note that this support is aimed at individuals rather than businesses that have invested lots of money on reopening. It’s crucial the Government comes up with a quick response to plug this income gap for businesses already facing a cashflow crisis.

“We are also concerned about the lasting impact this lockdown could have on the high street and hospitality sector. Many businesses were just beginning to get back on their feet and gearing up for the beginning of the festive period to offset the losses incurred earlier in the year, but this month-long lockdown may be one setback too many.

“The economy must not be allowed to grind to a halt as it did earlier this year. In sectors that can remain open, such as construction and manufacturing, it’s vital they receive full encouragement to do so. The messaging from Government in March was about full lockdowns, which meant many closed when perhaps they could have stayed open.

“What is clear is that this lockdown should not continue any longer than necessary. The Government must use this period to fix the ailing test and trace system once and for all in order to finally take the brakes off our economy.

“We will be examining the detail of new restrictions and support carefully over the coming days. 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.”