Business chief very ‘optimistic’ about Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown

Covid-19: Lord Bilimoria says he’s ‘optimistic’ for roadmap

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The Confederation of British Industry president has stated he is feeling “very optimistic” about the plans set out by Boris Johnson to reopen the economy as the country moves out of the coronavirus lockdown. It comes as the Government roadmap – which will involve four separate stages of reopening – was approved and signed off by key Cabinet ministers on Sunday and was put to the Commons on Monday afternoon. The document outlines four stages for reopening of sectors of English society during March, April, May and June.

Speaking to LBC the President of the CBI said: “I am very optimistic indeed,

“I think we at the CBI have been asking for a roadmap from the beginning of this month when we wrote to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

“We’re delighted that we now have the detailed roadmap with specific dates that the Government has put down.”

Looking ahead to next month’s budget and proposals to kick start Britain’s economic recovery, Lord Bilimoria urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to continue providing support to businesses.

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He said: “What we now need is for the Government which has given extraordinary support since the 23 March last year when we started the first lockdown, 

£300 billion worth of support and the proof of that is this time last year we had one of the lowest rates of unemployment in our countries history going back to the 1970s and that was 3.5 percent.

“Today we have unemployment at only five percent, at the end of the financial crisis unemployment had gone up to nearly ten per cent, it was over nine per cent.

“The reason for that is this £300 billion worth of support including the furlough scheme that has saved millions of businesses and millions of jobs.”

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Lord Bilimoria continued: “What we are saying to the Government is, given this roadmap, businesses, a lot of them, are still going to be closed looking ahead.”

“We need to continue the support. We’re saying to the Chancellor we’ve got this roadmap [so] extend the furlough scheme,” he added.

“Let there be no cliff edge at the end of April. Let it go through until the summer and then taper it off.”

Under a cautious timetable set out by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, restrictions will be eased in stages over the next four months. England will start to unlock on March 8.

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By the end of June all legal restrictions on social contact could be lifted, with Brits once again able to flock to football matches and party in nightclubs.

Unveiling his roadmap to MPs this afternoon, Mr Johnson said: “We are able to take these steps because of the resolve of the British public and the extraordinary success of our NHS in vaccinating more than 17.5 million people across the UK.

“The plan has been put together after careful examination of data on the impact coronavirus vaccinations are having on cutting hospitalisations, deaths and transmission of the virus.”

He added the roadmap will “guide us cautiously but irreversibly towards reclaiming our freedoms”.

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