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Media comment: Targeted lockdowns call for targeted government support

7 August 2020

Dear editor,

As parts of the country are now experiencing new restrictions to manage local outbreaks and some businesses have been prevented from opening to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we must think about how such restrictions impact local businesses and how we can best support them to survive further disruption. This is particularly important as many good businesses are still grappling with the aftermath of the country-wide lockdown and risk going under, without government support, if we prevent them from operating once again.

Many of the businesses affected are SMEs, which had already put in a huge effort to reopen – making arrangements for employees to return, deep cleaning, and making their premises COVID-secure to name a few – but have suddenly been stopped in their tracks. Therefore it is only right that where official policy and guidelines prevent a business from operating, the government continues to support that business while it remains closed.

The government must now lay the groundwork and devise an adequate plan to ensure that it can efficiently deliver much-needed financial support to already struggling local businesses. It should look to extend its support schemes such as the Job Retention Scheme, CBILS and Bounce Back Loans in regions and sectors forced to close again or to operate with significant restrictions. We cannot expect struggling businesses and employees to accept and survive further lockdowns or restrictions, unless financial support is brought alongside to help them navigate challenges lying ahead.

We need to reduce uncertainty to build confidence for businesses so that they can keep supporting local economies and communities throughout this crisis and beyond.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA
Chief Executive — Management Accounting
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, part of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants