PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
As we publish this latest Prosper Magazine, we are just hours away from a second national lockdown.
Following this weekend’s announcement from the government, businesses are once again thrown into disarray after months of uncertainty.
We absolutely respect the need to protect lives and keep people safe and last month, I co-signed a letter sent to the Prime Minister from General Director of the British Chambers of Commerce which challenged the government to meet five key business tests before announcing further restrictions.
Another national lockdown will be extremely problematic for many businesses. The business community has sacrificed so much over the last six months and many feel let down by a government that has failed to implement the robust test and trace system that it said was the key to keeping people and businesses working throughout the pandemic.
These new restrictions come at the worst possible time for businesses already battered by the initial lockdown, subsequent social distancing restrictions and tough trading conditions. Throughout this, we have continued to call for clarity and are disappointed that much of this debate has taken place via media briefings rather than detailed government announcements.
Having survived the first lockdown via innovation and tenacity, many businesses are now worried about what’s next and the bleak reality is that we could start to see more business failures and job losses throughout the winter and the country will be faced with a burdening mental health crisis.
Whilst extending furlough is welcome, the reality is that any business support intervention from government is a poor substitute for business as normal and being able to trade and compete within an open economy.
Right now, many sectors are struggling, and we are calling on the government that the new restrictions being imposed are commensurate with any new support packages.
We fear this will trigger an economic crisis for the UK and, in the mid-term, the government must pull all possible levers to grow our way out of this dire position. This must equate to unprecedented levels of investment in major infrastructure projects including those that will support places like the West Midlands and honour the government’s commitments to ‘levelling up’.
Skills and training will be key to equip the Black Country, and its people, in the post-Covid years.
In the coming days and weeks ahead, all eyes will be on developments across the Atlantic to the USA and the Presidential election, and as a business support organisation, we will continue to update our members on what trading will mean in a post-Brexit landscape.
Meanwhile, we continue to be here for our members and will carry on fighting hard for the information and support they need.
Finally, I would urge all businesses to reach out to organisations like Chambers of Commerce, help and guidance is available; business leaders do not have to go through this alone - we will continue to hold decision-makers to account...
Chief Executive Officer
Black Country Chamber of Commerce