Following a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK – which has reported a total of 60,916 cases today – UK hospitals are facing severe pressures as admissions continue to rise.
The drastic increase has been attributed to the new variant of COVID-19 which has been confirmed to be 50 to 70% more transmissible compared to the first variation.
As a result, January 4, 2021 saw the Prime Minister – Boris Johnson – announce the news of a third national lockdown for England.
Commenting on the announcement made by the Prime Minister, Stephen Phipson, chief Executive of Make UK believes that Johnson is right to take such measures in the face of a renewed national crisis.
“his fight is likely to occupy much of the coming year and, just as it has done since the start of the crisis, industry has supported the national effort and will continue to do so.”
However, Phipson does emphasise the importance of the government revisiting the business support packages, in light of the third lockdown. “Whilst measures such as the furlough scheme are very welcome, businesses are taking on substantial debt, deferring tax bills, postponing mortgage payments and facing empty order books; this cannot continue indefinitely. In strategic sectors like aviation and automotive tonight’s announcement will further damage already fragile demand.”
Phipson calls on the government to bring forward a comprehensive plan for the next six months, delivering certainty, stability and confidence, as well as targeted support for critical sectors. “We must ensure that our great manufacturers can survive the coming challenges and be in a position to help drive the recovery when it comes.”
Agreeing with Phipson that it is essential to put the health of UK citizens first, noting that “businesses will continue to step up in the national interest to support the NHS, employees and customers in the weeks ahead,” Tony Danker, Director-General at CBI, also adds that “there are now a nu mber of imperatives for government to support business […] British business stands ready to play its full part in the vaccine roll-out, increasing mass rapid testing and acting flexibly to support employees with caring responsibilities, while being attentive to the mental health of millions of employees.