CBI calls on government to work with firms on lockdown exit route

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on February 5th 2021, 12:12pm

The Confederation of British Industry [CBI] has called on the government to work with businesses to publish a roadmap out of the latest Covid-19 lockdown in England.

The government is due to publish its exit strategy in late February, and the CBI has said that it is already consulting firms on the best strategy to reopen the economy in a safe manner.

Writing to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, CBI Director-General, Tony Danker, said: “With health teams rightly in crisis management mode, we in business along with the economic ministries can use this time to plan for a successful re-opening of the economy when the moment is right to do so.”

To this end, the CBI has identified six elements to help British businesses prepare for reopening. These include identifying what is considered to be low, medium and high-risk economic activity, deciding on whether there will be a return to the tiered form of Covid restrictions, and considering how regular mass testing could be carried out in workplaces.

The group also wants “clear parameters” for determining which economic support measures should remain in place and how long they should be active.

Danker said: “There is a huge appetite among businesses to help the government create and deliver a roadmap out of lockdown that lasts, has national consensus and kickstarts our economic recovery as 2021 unfolds.

“Businesses are currently completely in the dark when planning for the weeks and months ahead and this is hindering investment. We can provide more clarity and do the prep work now to enable them to plan for reopening and growth.

“It’s clear that we will be entering a new normal even post-vaccination. We will have new workplace, testing and economic realities to live with. We’ve all learnt a lot in 2020 about what reopening looks like so let us move now to a plan for 2021 that is detailed, practical and instils confidence.”

Last week, the CBI welcomed the government’s commitment to provide targeted support to the aviation sector but warned that aid for the industry needed to go further to help larger airports.

The CBI’s Chief Economist, Rain Newton-Smith, commented: “The government is right to highlight the importance of a thriving aviation sector to the UK’s future economy, and targeted support for the sector is welcome. Aviation and its supply chain are among the hardest hit sectors, and more tough months lie ahead.

“Financial support will need to go further, however – particularly for larger airports where an £8 million grant will fall far short of fixed costs incurred during such a prolonged period of diminished demand.

“Prioritising public health remains critical, but government must recognise the disproportionate effects restrictions have on specific areas of the economy. The UK's aviation sector and supply chains now need a much more comprehensive package of support so they are ready to play a pivotal role in the economic recovery later this year.”

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
February 5th 2021, 12:12pm

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