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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber chief executive writes to Prime Minister demanding greater clarity for businesses in lockdown decisions

East Midlands Chamber has offered to work with Boris Johnson in improving communication to and from businesses in the region

The chief executive of East Midlands Chamber has written to Boris Johnson urging the Government to provide greater clarity to businesses over lockdown restrictions.

Scott Knowles told the Prime Minister today (1 December) about the “dissatisfaction” felt by the private sector in the region regarding plans to place Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire into Tier 3 measures once national lockdown ends after midnight tonight.

He said the East Midlands has been impacted by restrictions longer than anywhere else in the country, with Leicester and parts of Leicestershire the first area to be placed under local lockdown at the end of June, and reminded Mr Johnson of the five tests requested by the chamber of commerce – which represents 4,250 members across the three counties – by which to assess decisions taken.

Commenting on the new tiered approach to restrictions in the letter, Scott said: “I understand the difficult discussions involved in this and the numerous factors that have to be taken into consideration.

“However, I wanted to express our dissatisfaction at the outcome for the majority of the East Midlands and ask for greater clarity over the basis on which decisions were taken, future plans for ending these restrictions and greater support for those businesses impacted.”

Five tests for continued coronavirus restrictions on business activity in the East Midlands

The five tests set out in June, when the Leicester lockdown came into effect, were:

  1. Any decisions around closures must be based on evidence that can be shared with those affected and taken on as local a basis as possible
  2. Businesses must be given enough time to make the practical preparations needed for closing and reopening
  3. An exit strategy, including triggers for changes, must be made available to businesses to support them in their planning and decision-making
  4. Businesses adversely impacted must be given additional grant support to compensate them for costs associated with being shut, losing trade and investment into making themselves Covid-secure
  5. During closures, steps must be taken locally to reduce the risk of further disruption, including improvements made to testing and tracing

Scott added that clear, timely and consistent communication was vital in underpinning these tests.

East Midlands chief executive Scott Knowles

While businesses accept the country was still learning about the nature of coronavirus in the spring and early summer, he believes there are no longer any reasons why the tests shouldn’t be met nine months on and asked for feedback from Government on decisions taken that affect the East Midlands.

“To be clear, this is not intended to be a petulant request,” he added. “Working with our members, we see the on-the-ground impact that restrictions are having in terms of business failure, livelihoods destroyed and jobs lost, along with the negative social and health fallout of this – which promises to have a longer-lasting and greater deleterious impact than the virus itself – and believe that our businesses and the communities they serve deserve better.”

The Chamber has also offered to work closer with the Government to ensure communication to and from businesses in the region works better than it has to date.

With recognition the pandemic will continue to impact lives for months to come, Scott added: “A strong, growing private sector will be central to securing our recovery and ultimate success. There is no alternative that anything other than a fully open and functioning economy will right the recovery of the region.

“Right now, businesses require more focused and enhanced support, both financial and to support in planning, in order to ensure as many as possible are fit for growth in 2021 and beyond. Meeting our tests will help ensure this happens.”

To read the full letter, click here