What do Suffolk businesses think about new lockdown roadmap?

Business leaders have reacted to the government's plans to relax the third coronavirus lockdown. 

Business leaders have reacted to the government's plans to relax the third coronavirus lockdown. - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk business leaders say the government's post-lockdown roadmap is only "part of the solution" to economic recovery after the pandemic.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the government's plan to ease coronavirus restrictions and restart the economy on Monday, with businesses reopening in four stages, between March and June. 

Reacting to the plan, Paul Simon, head of policy and communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “Suffolk Chamber of Commerce broadly understands the government’s cautious stepped approach to re-opening our society and economy, as nobody wants a return to a full lockdown ever again.

“We also commend the government’s openness in setting out the four conditions which need to be met before each step can go ahead.

“However, this plan is only part of the solution, with next week’s budget being absolutely crucial in determining the future viability of thousands of local businesses, many of whose cashflow situations have seriously declined over the last few months.

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“To protect livelihoods, we are advocating an extension to the Job Retention and Self-Employed Income Support Schemes at least until a full reopening of the economy is possible and at least until the end of July 2021, as well as an expansion in income protection support for directors of limited companies."

Andrew Mower, East of England development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The roadmap provides some much-needed clarity for small businesses in East Anglia.

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"Above all, it’s vital that the plan protects against a fourth Covid wave and accompanying lockdown, the imposition of which would be devastating for the firms that already fear closure this year. 

"Small businesses are clear that the recovery depends on an accelerating vaccine programme, access to an improved testing infrastructure for firms of all sizes, the safe return of schools, and the right safety measures within businesses.

"Fundamentally, the implementation of, and deadlines for, business support measures need to reflect this road map to avoid forcing new businesses under before they’ve had a chance to realise their potential."

Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia LEP, said: "We welcome the government’s approach to reopening. Businesses have been calling for certainty and the roadmap helps with this.

“Keeping on top of data, and setting out very clearly the four conditions which need to be met at each stage, will hopefully help businesses to plan ahead.

“However, there will still be many difficult months to come, so it is critical that the furlough scheme and targeted financial help continues to be made available for those businesses who remain closed or operating under restrictions."

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