May 4, 2020 @ 10:07 by Steven Hugill
The Government must “be bold” and start planning to lift coronavirus lockdown measures immediately if it is serious about kick-starting the UK economy, a business organisation has said.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to act with haste to “harness the public health and economic benefits, both now and in the future.”
In a letter to Mr Johnson, the BCC lays out a three-point blueprint – using the headings Restart, Rebuild, Renew – which it says will catalyse the economy, provide resilience for firms and households, and ultimately return the UK to prosperity and growth.
Highlighting the need for “fundamental prerequisites” such as mass testing and contact tracing, it also calls for “clear decisions and guidance on what PPE is needed in workplaces and proactive steps to ensure adequate supply to the health service and businesses where necessary.”
Writing the letter, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, BCC president, said: “The fight against the virus must remain the top priority, but the planning and communication of a carefully phased approach to lifting lockdown must begin immediately if we are to harness the public health and economic benefits, both now and in the future.”
“This is a time to be bold.
“The Government should not shy away from sustaining high levels of public spending in order to restart and renew our communities and the economy in the short and medium-term, while not tying the hands of future generations.
“An expansionary fiscal policy, including a commitment to transformative infrastructure investment, will be needed in order to generate the returns that will help to pay down the national debt in the longer-term.”
The letter also sets out a number of steps, such as safely reopening workplaces, commercial and public spaces, and restoring services such as schools and public transport, as integral moves to help recharge the country.
Furthermore, it welcomes the “speed and scale” of existing Government support schemes but warns they will need to “continue to evolve to support a phased restart of the economy, enabling businesses to survive through this crisis and thrive in the future.”
Baroness McGregor-Smith added: “We commit to working with you and your colleagues across Government on exploring these phases in detail as we plan our path forward.
“We owe nothing less to our businesses, and the communities and people they support, who have been battered by this storm.”