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Chamber responds to roadmap for lifting lockdown

Earlier this week (Monday 22 February) Boris Johnson addressed the commons to announce the planned roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions. The news is of critical importance to Doncaster’s economy and business community. The Prime Minister stressed that each stage of a new 4-stage plan will be driven by “data not “dates”. The PM says there will be “at least” five weeks between each of the four steps.

Doncaster Chamber Chief Executive Dan Fell said, “The roadmap to recovery gives businesses hope that this latest lockdown is the last.  A longer-term plan is what many businesses have been calling for and should provide renewed confidence and encouragement.  For once, businesses will have been relieved to see government planning for the months rather than weeks ahead and somewhat reassured by the uncharacteristic level of detail in this week’s announcements.

“However, with many businesses unable to reopen until April, or in some cases even longer, the budget statement next week is a prime opportunity for government to expand on details of financial support. Sadly, the Prime Minister’s announcement was a missed opportunity to tell businesses about the support interventions that are likely to feature in the budget.  Given that many Doncaster businesses – especially our international traders – are also struggling to adjust to trading in a post-Brexit world, this has created another week of unnecessary uncertainty for many business owners and their staff.

“Finally, the possibility of localised restrictions still exists down the line. Doncaster’s r-rate remains high and we therefore encourage everyone in the borough to keep doing their bit to get this down and for national government to give additional resource to areas in the country where infection rates are above national averages; otherwise, the risk remains that when other parts of the country could be re-opening, our economy is stuck in limbo.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“It is helpful that many businesses across England can now see a path to restart and recovery. Absolute clarity and honesty will be needed every step of the way over the weeks ahead, so that businesses have a fighting chance to rebuild. The stop-start dynamic of the past year, which has so damaged businesses and communities, must come to an end.

“Even with the Prime Minister’s new roadmap, the future of thousands of firms and millions of jobs still hangs by a thread. Many hard-hit businesses simply don’t have the cash reserves needed to hold out several more months before they are allowed to reopen. Businesses will hold the Prime Minister to his pledge to support firms for the duration of the pandemic, as this gruelling marathon nears its end. Businesses have haemorrhaged billions of pounds over the past year and need action now. All the key support schemes for business should be extended – through the summer and wherever possible throughout 2021 – to ensure that as many viable firms as possible can make it to the finish line and recover.”

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