The Government spending plans in response to the COVID-19 crisis announced today feature positive measures, but fail to address the real extent of the challenge facing the country.
With countless families and businesses facing serious financial hardship as a result of the ongoing crisis, the Government ought not to underestimate the challenge facing this country and provide a comprehensive plan to help save businesses and enable local councils to kickstart a sustainable recovery.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, commented:
“Whilst we welcome the extra support announced by the Chancellor today, the scale of the response fails to meet the challenge we are facing.
“The announcement to support the hospitality and leisure sector by reducing VAT rates is a much welcome step, which will help many struggling businesses across the city. With so many of York’s hospitality businesses operating at much less than full capacity due to social spacing requirements, this will give a boost to this crucial part of York’s economy.
“However, whilst further support and incentives announced for businesses to help save jobs are a welcome intervention by the Government, this neither provides a long term solution nor addresses the urgent need to help those continuing to fall through the gaps of the Government support schemes. Today’s announcement provides no clarity or help to new start-ups and the self–employed, who remain in urgent need of immediate support.
“The investment in skills to create opportunities for young people is also a welcome response to continuous calls by local authorities across the country. Whilst the green initiatives announced today offer a promising start, they do not match the scale of the ambition necessary to address the climate and economic crises facing our country. This recovery provides a potential to generate thousands of local jobs, from clean renewable power to low emission vehicles and biomass, and enable a strong alignment between the economy and the environment. Today’s announcement on green spending is not bold enough to ‘build back greener’, and it’s certainly not enough to put us on track to tackle the catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency we face. We can enable a green recovery, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, a potential 5000 of them in York, and keeping many of the recent improvements we've seen in cleaner air, returning nature and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, but only if the Government appreciates the scale of this challenge and invests in our future.
“Whilst today’s announcements will provide temporary relief to many businesses in the city, a major concern over supporting local authorities and enabling a long-term sustainable recovery still remains. The next six months have the potential to shape the direction of this country for years to come. With full funding and the right powers, local authorities can be enabled to grasp the opportunity to not just recover from this crisis but to go further and address the stark inequalities the pandemic has exposed, kickstart a green recovery, address skills gaps and rebuild the economy that benefits everyone.”