Britain is heading for 'perfect summer storm', warns Labour

Ed MilibandEd Miliband
Ed Miliband
Labour is calling for measures to support businesses if there are changes to the planned ending of the national lockdown in England on June 21.

The Opposition has warned a “perfect summer storm” is brewing, with high street businesses still hit by restrictions if the Government delays an announcement.

Labour said the road map should be guided by the science, but accused ministers of being too slow to act throughout the pandemic, especially on economic support.

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A report by Labour said quarterly rents are due on June 23, the ban on commercial rent evictions ends on June 30, and employers must start contributing 10% to furlough costs on July 1.

Around two in five hospitality businesses have not reached an agreement on rent arrears, while 12,000 premises in the sector have already been lost during the crisis – including one in 10 hotels and restaurants and one in five casual dining businesses.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said: “Businesses have operated under historic uncertainty during this crisis, worsened by details of economic support playing catch up with public health announcements.

“Now once again, businesses are in the dark, with a perfect storm of financial pinch-points brewing and no reassurance from Government that economic measures will remain in step with possible changes to the road map.

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“It is right we remain guided by the science to tackle this virus, but businesses should absolutely not be paying the price for the Government’s poor handling of our borders and the new variant.

“We’ve got to back businesses on our high streets and safeguard the recovery of local economies. Businesses should not have to worry for even one day that economic support will be pulled away whilst restrictions remain in place.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “As we begin to safely reopen the economy, we are continuing to support British firms and their staff, which is why the furlough scheme is in place until September – well beyond the planned end of restrictions.

“This is in addition to over £350 billion that we have invested over the course of the pandemic to protect millions of jobs and livelihoods.”