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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Shropshire Chamber says Government needs to do more to help businesses

Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Government to ensure it is meeting five key tests to help power an economic recovery.

Shropshire Chamber of Commerce Chief executive Richard Sheehan
Shropshire Chamber of Commerce Chief executive Richard Sheehan

Chief executive Richard Sheehan was among a number of Chamber bosses who signed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this year.

It called on the Government to ensure that Covid-19 restrictions were designed to limit their impact on businesses and jobs, and took a long-term approach to tackling the pandemic.

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The Chamber network feels the latest series of tiered restrictions are failing to satisfactorily meet any of them.

The five business tests requested in the letter were:

  • EVIDENCE: Are the restrictions evidence-based and targeted effectively? 
  • CLARITY: Are the restrictions clear and do businesses have time to prepare?  
  • SUPPORT: Is support for businesses commensurate with the impact on them?  
  • TESTING: Will the time that the restrictions are in place be used to significantly improve the Test, Trace and Isolate system?  
  • EXIT STRATEGY: Is there a clear process for increasing and decreasing restrictions?  

The British Chambers of Commerce has given the Government ‘red lights’ on providing firms with clarity and time to prepare, on improving the Test, Trace and Isolate system, and on whether there is a clear process for increasing and decreasing restrictions, and ‘amber lights’ on the other two tests.

Mr Sheehan said: “The widely-held view is that the Government’s economic impact assessment of Coronavirus restrictions is insufficient in providing businesses with information on how restrictions have been designed and applied in their area.

“While the government’s forward communication to businesses ahead of changes to restrictions has improved, the multiple guidelines have left businesses without adequate time to plan accordingly

“This is something which can affect their long-term survival.”

Mr Sheehan backed calls from the BCC for financial support to be in line with restrictions, especially for firms in town centres whose trade is reliant on employees working from offices.

BCC president Baroness McGregor-Smith said: “There is no escaping the fact that restrictions, whether national or regional, are a devastating blow to our business communities.

“A vaccine undoubtedly provides light at the end of the tunnel – but now is not the time for government to weaken its resolve. Until it is rolled out, government must do all it can to support businesses – not just to weather restrictions, but to help power our economic recovery.

“That means providing crystal-clear clear guidance on how to safely continue operating, financial support commensurate with restrictions especially for those placed in the toughest tiers, and above all, significantly improving the Test, Trace and Isolate system to keep businesses and the economy open.”

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