Following the announcement by Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance about the UK being at a “critical point” in managing the pandemic, Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), has responded.
He said: “Clearly, the Government has some very tough decisions to make in terms of how to keep the pandemic under control and we fully appreciate there is a delicate balance to be struck between economic and public health.
“But the simple reality is that another national lockdown would be catastrophic to the economic recovery of the country. The scientists have suggested four actions for combatting risk, but a lockdown should not be added to this list.
“The latest ONS employment statistics for May to July demonstrated the unemployment rate is on the rise – with the East Midlands among the worst affected regions – and this is only set to grow once the wind-down and eventual end of the Job Retention Scheme are taken into account in later months.
“Indeed, the Chamber’s latest Quarterly Economic Survey for Q3 2020 showed that 27% of businesses decreased the size of their workforce over the three months to September.
“We saw with the Leicester lockdown that a one-size-fits-all approach to imposing restrictions was a blunt instrument that hit both the cashflow and confidence of businesses and communities. Six months into this pandemic, it should be well within our capability as a nation to have access to timely, localised data that can instead be used to inform decisions about how to take a more targeted, ultra-local approach to tackling outbreaks.
“This, alongside a properly-functioning test and trace system, should be our route to getting through the winter. Any decision that involves shutting down certain parts of the economy must be viewed as an absolute last resort and be accompanied by additional funding to be made available by Westminster for keeping businesses afloat and people in jobs.”