On November 4, MPs voted in favour of the Government’s proposals for a four week lockdown in England, with huge swathes of the region’s economy forced to close for the second time this year.
As well as the understandable disappointment at finding ourselves back in this situation, these developments have generated some very mixed reactions. At one extreme were those calling for a more comprehensive, total lockdown, while at the other some were arguing against any lockdown at all. Plus, many pundits are voicing concerns that restrictions may be held in place beyond the proposed cut-off date of December 2, especially if the re-infection rate remains above target levels at that time. Then there are many unanswered questions about the support that will, or will not, be available to help people, places and businesses keep their heads above water during this latest lockdown and thereafter.
All these arguments and counter-arguments create yet more uncertainty and anxiety for individuals and businesses, just as we enter the critical run up to Christmas.
To counter this, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for much greater clarity and much better communication on the issues that matter most. In the short term, we need to be shown why a second lockdown is the best way to respond to the pandemic at this stage. We need to know precisely what support will be available to those impacted by the lockdown, including those that have so far missed out on support through no fault of their own. We also need to be assured that every effort will be made to ensure that restrictions are relaxed, as intended, on 2 December.
In addition, FSB is calling for a single-minded focus on growth. Primarily, we want to see a big reduction in the costs, bureaucracy and other barriers connected with setting up and running a business. That way we will help to create and nurture the businesses, jobs and tax revenues that are needed for a sustainable recovery in the medium to longer term.