Fulbourn Labour’s Tim Andrews asks where’s Rishi?
Last week, the government announced a package of measures to try to limit the spread of the Omicron variant. On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced that everybody over the age of 18 would be able to have a booster vaccine by the end of December, requiring a very ambitious target of over 1 million jabs/day. On Wednesday, at a press conference, Professor Chris Whitty strongly advised that people should de-prioritise social interactions.
Unsurprisingly, the effect on hospitality and retail businesses has been catastrophic at their key period of the year. Many of Cambridgeshire restaurants have reported hundreds of bookings being cancelled, numbers are substantially down in pubs, while footfall in non-essential retail is reported to be down by up to 30%.
The Labour Party stands with Cambridgeshire businesses at this particularly difficult time. We call on the Treasury to urgently produce a package of support measures for hospitality and retail businesses who are being hit so hard by the spread of the Omicron variant and the vital measures needed to restrict its spread. The reintroduction of furlough, business loans, and decent levels of sick pay are vital.
The Labour Party understands that businesses and employees desperately need support if they are to survive. Shockingly, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been silent throughout this new crisis, and is currently on a four-day trip to California. He needs to get back here immediately to negotiate with businesses and unions to produce a package of support measures for hospitality and retail businesses.
We also urgently call on Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire who is the Treasury Secretary to break her silence. She needs to explain what the government will do to support the businesses of her constituency and prevent this being this final straw that forces their closure. This could be a bitter Christmas for our local business owners and the thousands who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic to keep things going. Is the Treasury’s indifference and inertia, including that of Lucy Frazer really going to abandon them to this fate?