With the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading fast in the UK, we are all likely to be warned to limit our social contacts over the coming weeks. Professor Chris Whitty gave this advice to England yesterday, and tomorrow, First Minister Mark Drakeford will be announcing what we in Wales will need to do over the coming weeks.

Health is of course devolved to the Welsh Government, but decisions about financial support for businesses (such as the furlough scheme), need to come from Westminster.

Despite these calls, business leaders and major trade bodies  haven’t had proper engagement from government on how additional restrictions and advice resulting from Omicron would affect them.

The public have been told to ‘de-prioritise social contact’. Following the science is crucial, but this will hit businesses and workers hard, especially in sectors like culture, hospitality and leisure. Businesses now face a perfect storm of cancelled bookings, rising costs and staff shortages – this, after nearly 2 years of restrictions having already hit them hard.

Many workers are worried that their livelihoods have been put at risk by the government’s inaction.

The Chancellor, currently in Los Angeles, needs to get out of Hollywood and come back to the reality. We’re urging the government to announce a package of support by the end of today – UK time not California time – that matches the situation British businesses are now facing.

What are Labour calling for

  • Businesses want certainty and to know the plan for what could come next. They weren’t consulted on Plan B and they now deserve to know what Plan C might look like and involve.
  • We have always called for economic support to remain in step with public health measures.
  • Yet the gap is increasing by the day and businesses owners and workers in those sectors are being expected to pay for the lack of support from government.
  • The Chancellor is behaving as though ‘nothing has changed’, but the government advice to deprioritise social contact will hit businesses hard
  • But we have a serious health emergency, many businesses are worried and their employees are anxious.

Questions we have asked of government

On Thursday 16th December, our Shadow Chancellor and Shadow Business Secretary wrote to government with the following urgent questions:

  1. What impact does the government believe the latest Covid measures will have on different sectors of the economy?
  2. What assessment had the Government made on the economic impact of the request to limit social contact on industry prior to the Prime Ministers press conference?
  3. What is their plan to address that impact?
  4. How has the government worked with and listened to businesses and trade unions in the most affected sectors in recent months ahead of Plan B and meeting current Covid challenges?
  5. Why has the government not improved sick pay and improved self-isolation support?
  6. What assessment has the government undertaken on the impact of isolation from rising cases on different sectors of the economy?
  7. What steps has the government taken to stabilise essential supply chains and public services?
  8. If further restrictions are needed and premises are mandated to close, what economic support will businesses and workers receive?
  9. What lessons have been learned from previous pandemic support and will they be incorporated in any new additional support packages including preventing fraud?
  10. Will the government guarantee that any new economic support will include clear support for workers alongside businesses?
  11. Has the government made a revised assessment of the April cliff edge for the rise in National Insurance Contributions and VAT rise on business confidence?
  12. What provision has been made for testing to be available to consumers and employees to allow regular testing, especially in light of this weeks’ shortages?
Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search