Angela spoke to business leaders from across the country to find out what targeted support they need as lockdown continues.
The zoom call was attended by members of the British Chambers of Commerce, which represents 75,000 businesses across 53 different local chambers.
The discussion centred around the BCC’s key aims which include protecting jobs and livelihoods by extending furlough and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme until at least the end of July, supporting businesses’ cashflow by extending and expanding business rates relief for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, extending deferral on VAT until the end of 2021 and enhancing the government lending schemes and keeping the economy moving by swift rollout of the vaccine and improving Test, Trace and Isolate to avoid further lockdowns.
Angela, Labour’s Deputy Leader, said: “Throughout the pandemic, our businesses have stepped up and made us all proud – changing production to make hand sanitiser, PPE and ventilators, adapting to ever-changing restrictions and lockdowns, supporting staff working from home with childcare and caring responsibilities and so much more.
“British businesses have gone above and beyond to rise to the challenge, but the government hasn’t always given them the support and the clarity they need.
“Last month we had a lockdown announced with no mention of economic support and no sign of the Chancellor, and I worry that we are heading for another cliff edge next month with the end of the furlough scheme and there are lots of unanswered questions ahead of the Budget next month.
“Labour want to see our great British businesses thrive. We want to see a growth-led recovery, we want to see our high streets recover and we want to work to support British business to secure our economy and deliver an economy that provides decent, secure and well-paid jobs.
“I know our businesses are determined to get Britain vaccinated and I know that employers will be playing their part by giving staff paid time off to get their vaccine and to take their vulnerable family members to appointments.
“You will have seen me call for teachers and key workers be included alongside priority groups 5-9 so that we can get children back in school and protect the workers who are most at risk because of their jobs.
“The government needs to focus on ramping up supply so we are hitting 3-4 million vaccines a week throughout February and we need to see some clarity and a roadmap for how the vaccine will be rolled out after the most vulnerable groups have had their jab and what the plan is for reopening parts of our economy safely so that businesses can start to plan and prepare.
“Now is the time for the government to step up, listen to businesses and give them the vital support they need to survive this crisis.