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Business leaders call for clarity and support going into new lockdown

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. File photo
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. File photo

BUSINESS leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire say firms will need urgent support after the Government's announcement of a lockdown in England from this Thursday.

Chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Louise Bennett, said the extension of the furlough scheme will bring some relief but says the closure of hospitality, leisure and non-essential retail is another blow to the regional economy.

She also called for clarity on which businesses can continue to operate after Thursday after the Prime Minister told those in construction and manufacturing to carry on working.

She said: “Since the very beginning of the crisis, we have said that health must come first and that remains the case.

“But I have seen how hard so many of our businesses have worked to make themselves Covid-secure and this latest announcement that will see them close for four weeks will hit them hard.

“The extension of furlough is to be welcomed but, just as before, it will need to be part of a wider package of measures and it’s important to remember that many firms will be worse off than they were ahead of the initial lockdown – so support will need to go further and it will be needed urgently.

“Companies we speak to day in, day out, want to play their part in getting on top of the virus but they also want to see that there is a plan that helps them to move forward. Financial support is welcome but nothing will beat them being able to actually do business.

“Businesses want to know that there is a long-term plan for the future and that, for those hardest hit, it’s not just about surviving today but how they will be able to invest and grow in the future. The Government needs to be clear to companies that are struggling that there is a plan for better times ahead.

“As well as being clear on a new package of help for businesses, we’d urge Government to clarify which companies can continue to operate. The PM mentioned construction and manufacturing – so we’d urge our local firms in these sectors to carry on as they have been in a Covid secure way.

“But there will be some company bosses in certain sectors who are not 100 per cent sure if they are able to continue come Thursday, so it’s vital that any grey areas are eliminated as soon as possible.”

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