Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere
Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere

To slow down the spread of Omicron while boosters are being delivered, the Government has introduced new “Plan B” measures and recommended that we reduce household mixing to a minimum.

These are vital measures – and may need to be strengthened – but even though they are far short of a compulsory lockdown, they are already having a devastating impact on many businesses. Customers are staying away from pubs, restaurants are facing a wave of cancellations, shops are seeing a drop in trade as people move back to online shopping.

For many of these businesses, the increased trade they usually get at Christmas is what enables them to carry on throughout the rest of the year.

Without extra financial support from the Government, we are going to see a huge wave of business closures in the new year. Yet, at the time of writing, no additional support has been announced.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seems to have been caught completely on the hop enjoying a jolly trip to California instead of meeting business and union leaders to thrash out a support package.

That package should be as comprehensive as the support offered in previous waves, including a temporary reintroduction of furlough and the Covid statutory sick pay scheme, and the extension of VAT and business rate relief.

The Additional Restrictions Grant, administered by councils, should also be topped up so we can help those businesses who fall through the cracks of national support schemes.

All our MPs should be lobbying the Government hard to introduce these measures this week.

Wishing all readers the very Happiest Christmas possible and a safe, Covid-free New Year.

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