Dan Jarvis demands government Covid support for businesses
The Mayor of South Yorkshire has demanded that central Government provide support for businesses hit by Covid.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of South Yorkshire, has today called on the government to immediately put in place support measures for businesses affected by Covid, as evidence of the threat posed by Omicron continues to mount.
The mayor slammed the Government for urging people to be cautious in the run up to Christmas, without offering the businesses that would lose custom as a result any kind of financial safety net.
Mr Jarvis said: “The Prime Minister has already urged greater caution, and people are voting with their feet. It’s simply not right that business and individuals already suffering the effects of almost two years of disruption should have to endure what amounts to a soft lockdown in the critical run-up to Christmas without any support.
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"That support could take many forms - but they need to get a shift on.
“We need to explore every avenue to avoid further restrictions. But if we really are left with no other choice, the government has got to follow the science - and they need to put in place support so individuals can afford to follow the guidance and to cushion the blow to the economy.
“It beggars belief that we are still having to argue for these things almost two years into this pandemic. The government seem incapable of learning a lesson that was paid for at such a cost.
"Just like in 2020, the Prime Minister does not even seem bothered to turn up for his own COBRA crisis meetings – it’s a lack of seriousness we just can’t afford any more.
“This is a tough moment for our country. The situation we find ourselves in is the last thing any of us wanted. But that is precisely when you need leadership at the top – and it’s just not there.”
Mr Jarvis’ calls come after health secretary Sajid Javid last week refused to rule out further restrictions to delay the spread of Omicron before Christmas.
And concerns around Omicron cases have already prompted some Sheffield businesses to temporarily close.
Lucy Nickson, the incoming interim Chair of the South Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “Businesses in South Yorkshire are being hit just at the moment they were counting on a strong Christmas season to help recovery from the disruption of earlier lockdowns.
"We need to act now to prevent serious economic damage – it would be a colossal false economy to hold back on vital support at this stage.
“We need the government to look at all the options - from VAT rate cuts, business rate relief, and delays to the hike in National Insurance, to increased support to local government, more flexible repayment of COVID loans, and sorting out sick pay.
"And we need them to match that with timely, consistent messaging – and to make sure no sectors are left behind.
“If we act decisively, we can get through this. If we don’t, the price we pay will ultimately be much higher.”