Policy Spotlight: The end of Plan B Restrictions and Levelling-Up Prospectus Revealed

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday 27 January, England was reverting to “Plan A” due to the success of booster vaccinations and how well people had followed Plan B measures.

The removal of Plan B restrictions means that the government has dropped its advice for people to work from home as well as ended the mandatory requirement to wear face masks in public places.

This announcement will come as a relief to many firms across the UK who have been unable to maintain normal operations with staff working from home. It is also anticipated that news of the easing of restrictions will encourage more people to go out again, ultimately supporting businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.

Despite this news, it will come as no surprise that many firms have adjusted to the new working conditions with staff working from home or establishing a hybrid working system. Arguably a new normal has been created due to the pandemic with most firms offering remote working options for staff members regardless of whether restrictions are in place or not.

Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Prime Ministers’ announcement has indicated a light at the end of the tunnel for many firms across the nation. However, it is now more important than ever that businesses remain vigilant and play their part in containing the spread of the virus. The last two years have shown us repeatedly how unpredictable the virus is, causing the situation to change drastically with very little notice.

“We would urge businesses to continue to maintain safety measures around the workplace as well as encourage staff to take lateral flow tests regularly and to allow staff members to work remotely whenever possible.”

It is essential that the government continues to support businesses through this period in order to help sustain the UK’s economic recovery as well as contain the spread of the variant. Measures should include reintroducing free testing kits for businesses and implementing enhanced financial support for businesses impacted by Covid-19 as well as maintaining the VAT reduction beyond March 2022 in order to help support firms in the hospitality and retail sectors.

As the government moves towards a more hopeful long-term strategy, it is crucial that businesses are provided with the right kind of support allowing them to aid in the UK’s return to economic prosperity.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Reveal Levelling-Up Prospectus

In other promising news, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has revealed its Levelling-up Prospectus, which is the city’s biggest investment prospectus to date. After securing £56m in Levelling Up funding in October, the prospectus highlights multiple key investment and development opportunities which are available in the city.
The upcoming infrastructure projects are expected to unleash Stoke-on-Trent’s full economic potential bringing in potential investors and developers from across the globe.

The city’s major projects include the Etruscan Square development into a leisure-led, mixed-use regeneration site, The Goods Yard, creating a vibrant micro-neighbourhood and Etruria Valley Link Road.

You can find out more about the Levelling-Up Prospectus in our Local Economy Round-table Rotation Session on Thursday. Click here to book your space.

If you require any business support or advice, get in touch with Staffordshire Chambers of commerce on 01782 202222 or email info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk.

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