Bid to end confusion

Call for clarity over which firms can stay open

Tracy Black

Tracy Black of the CBI: we need clear and consistent guidelines (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s business organisations have raised concerns over confusion about which firms are able to stay open during the current coronavirus crisis.

Thirteen lobby groups applaud government efforts in engaging with businesses and strongly believe that “cooperation in the national interest provides the best means to get through the crisis.” 

However, they call for “clear and consistent guidelines from government, as well as simple and structured systems to deliver them.”

The group, which includes the CBI, Chambers and sector-based organisations, says in a joint statement: “The message to ‘stay at home’ is one that business has heard, agrees with and is taking immediate measures to implement.

“However, for some firms, this isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Essential business must continue to help the country to function, avoid significant job losses or furloughing of workers, and ensure we have a strong economy to return to once the crisis is over.  

“For those companies that do remain open, adaption has been swift. They have been active in partnering with government and other stakeholders to do what they can to protect the health and safety of workers through implementing social distancing measures.

“A significant number have also put additional measures in place, such as installing protective screens or shifting production to focus only on increased demand for vital food and medical supplies.

“Recent confusion over which firms are required to close, and which are permitted to remain open, has resulted in different interpretations – with conflicting views and public debate as a consequence. Key to ensuring we strike the right balance are clear and consistent guidelines from government, as well as simple and structured systems to deliver them – without this, ambiguity is certain to emerge.

“So far, intervention from business and government has been rapid and effective. However only by extending assistance and ensuring it’s both up-to-date and correctly targeted can we be sure of doing everything in our power to protect jobs, the economy and people’s livelihoods.

“Make no mistake, this is a concurrent public health and economic crisis that demands a clear response. We will get through it, and we will do so by protecting people’s health, their immediate economic wellbeing and by safeguarding future prosperity for the country.

“With business committed to doing its part, we need to emphasise cooperation, consistency of policy and clarity of message across all parts of the UK to ensure we tackle the crisis effectively.”

The signatories are:

Tracy Black, Director, CBI Scotland

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

Malcolm Cannon, Institute of Directors Scotland

Colin Borland, Director of Devolved Nations, Federation of Small Businesses

Sarah Thiam, Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI)

Graeme Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Financial Enterprise

Lorna Jack, Chief Executive, Law Society of Scotland

Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering

J Bruce Cartwright CA, Chief Executive, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

Claire Mack, Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables

Sarah-Jane Laing, Chief Executive, Scottish Land and Estates

David Lonsdale, Director, Scottish Retail Consortium

Lesley Brydon, Chairman, Chartered Institute of Public Relations Scotland

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