Pressure on UK government to map 'clear route out of the crisis'

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
Mel Stride MP, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, outside Downing Street, London. Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters
Mel Stride MP, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, outside Downing Street, London. Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Pressure is mounting on the UK government to explain how it plans to bring the country out of lockdown, amid concerns about the impact on the economy.

Mel Stride MP, a Conservative who chairs parliament's influential Treasury Select Committee, on Monday called on prime minister Boris Johnson to publish the steps he plans to take to get the UK out of lockdown. Stride said businesses needed certainty about the future to help them plan.

"After almost a year of restrictions, people and businesses need confidence that the government has a clear route of out the crisis," Stride said. “To provide this confidence, the government must set out the criteria for how and when it will lift lockdown restrictions."

Johnson has promised to set out plans for exiting lockdown on 22 February but there is uncertainty about what this roadmap may look like. The government has signalled that a full lockdown will last until at least early March and reports last week suggested restrictions could remain in place until May.

READ MORE: UK economy shrank by record 10% in 2020

Britain's GDP shrunk by 9.9% in 2020, official figures confirmed last week, largely due to restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. It marked the biggest annual economic collapse since the Great Frost 1709.

A return to lockdown at the start of January means economic activity is almost certain to shrink once again at the start of 2021.

While generous government support has kept company collapses and job losses to a minimum so far, there are fears that more jobs and businesses could disappear the longer lockdown goes on.

Stride urged the government to carry out "combined economic and epidemiological modelling... showing how it would best optimise health and economic outcomes.”

The comments came as the Treasury Select Committee published its latest report on the economic impact of COVID-19. The report chastised the government for its continued failure to address the gaps in support for many workers, including some self-employed and company directors.

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