‘URGENT’ support is required by Barnsley’s businesses to secure their futures after the borough was entered into an at-risk category in the government’s new coronavirus guidelines - without any form of compensation package.
Barnsley Central MP, Dan Jarvis, spoke via video link to Parliament about the need for support for businesses which have been plunged into the ’tier two’ category.
The government’s three-tier system, which is separated into medium, high and very high risk areas, will be reviewed every four weeks but Barnsley finds itself in the middle zone.
It means mixing of households indoors is not allowed, and the so-called rule of six applies to private gardens and outdoor spaces. Pubs and restaurants can remain open until 10pm, but no mixing of households can occur inside, leading fears to be expressed that it will kill off already struggling trade.
Dan said: “Without additional financial support the restrictions to which Barnsley will be subject will deal a hammer-blow for businesses and high streets across our region.
“We are entering a new phase in our efforts to overcome the coronavirus and we face a difficult winter unless we stop its spread. I accept the need for new restrictions, but the government is failing to grasp the scale of action required.
““The new system brings restrictions without additional economic support at the ‘high’ alert level. This lands another blow for our high streets and businesses who face takings and trade falling further.
“We need a local lockdown lifeline so businesses, suppliers and the self-employed are fairly compensated from restrictions which cut their income. I will fight to ensure workers and businesses get the backing they need to survive.
“Residents must limit their contact with other households. If the restrictions are to work, they must be crystal clear to command people’s confidence, and be part of a coherent plan which will get us out of local restrictions.
“Ministers will further lose the public’s trust and be rewriting the rules again if not, which may be too late to save lives, jobs and businesses.”
Chief secretary to the treasury, Steve Barclay MP, responded to Dan’s questioning in Parliament that the government will not be able to guarantee each job across the borough but will offer support packages to local authorities.
He said: “The reality is that what can’t be satisfied is that every job in the area will be protected.
“It is about having a balance of measures that enables those businesses to be open that can, and to take action on the virus to suppress that increase.
“We have brought forward at what by international standards is a very supportive package that combines the additional £1bn to local authorities.
“I know he and other local leaders have called for, we’ve listened to those representations.”