The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 companies, has called on the Government to take three steps to power recovery once restrictions are eased.
Alongside a clear plan for leaving lockdown, it also wants there to be long-term certainty on the business support available to firms and their supply chains.
It’s third point is to provide regular updates of the mass testing pilots and work with companies on deploying rapid testing in workplaces.
Planning and preparation is everything
CBI acting director general Josh Hardie said: “Business and Government have learnt many hard lessons this year.
“Now it’s time to use them to our advantage. As the end of lockdown two in England approaches, planning and preparation is everything if businesses are to hit the ground running.
“For many firms, the start of December is their most important trading period. A clear well-communicated exit strategy can help them salvage the best from a bad year.
“Public health must always be the number one priority but that shouldn’t come at an unnecessary cost to the economy.
“Forewarned is forearmed. Sensible notice of future changes makes it much easier for a business’ ability to plan ahead, mobilising their supply chains and staff.”
Hardie highlighted how forward guidance for firms in Wales when they came out of the firebreak lockdown aided companies.
He added: “Business wants a commitment to at least seven days warning of what restrictions in England will look like from 3 December.
“We saw in Wales for forward guidance before the end of the circuit-breaker helped. It avoided an unnecessary scramble of firms struggling to work out if and how they can have premises open at the eleventh hour. Let’s learn from that.
“Understanding the rules matters too – it helps build compliance and confidence for everyone. So whether tiers are toughened or not, showing the evidence behind any lifting or extension of restrictions will help immeasurably.
“If closures are still required, long-term clarity on what further support might be available for firms is vital.”
He also urged councils to ensure they carried on communicating with local firms to best deploy grants to those who need it most.
“Local authorities will also have their part to play. They must continue to speak to local businesses to see where the need is greatest. The distribution of grant funding to businesses must be quicker, decisive and transparent,” Hardie said.
“Even in the toughest of times, there are reasons to be optimistic. With the right financial measures and exit plan in place, collaboration on mass rapid testing and a vaccine on the horizon, many firms will be able to look to the future.
“A strong short-term plan can protect vulnerable communities and be a catalyst for a longer term ambition and action.”