Downtown launches recovery manifesto

Private sector lobbying group Downtown in Business has launched a manifesto outlining 30 steps to get the economy back on track following the coronavirus pandemic.

The document, which can be downloaded here, includes tax breaks for struggling industries, reduced red tape surrounding job creation and more power devolved to regional authorities.

Some of the headlines measures would include zero VAT for hospitality businesses, funds to support young entrepreneurs, employment law reforms to reduce inappropriate employment tribunals, support for training and upskilling and a recognition of the important role sport and the arts will play in a recovery.

The manifesto also warns the government against cancelling infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. It also suggests policy makers should resist massive investment in cycle lanes, which DIB says could prove an expensive white elephant, investing instead in an accelerated move to electric vehicles which will lead to success on the carbon neutral agenda in the long-term.

Frank McKenna, DIB’s chairman and chief executive, said: “Rishi Sunak has done outstandingly in protecting the economy, with measures like the furloughing scheme, CBILS facilities and bounce back loans. However, our economy has shrunk by an unprecedented 20 per cent, we now need an unprecedented response.

We need the government to enable the private sector to protect and where possible create jobs.

"At the moment, we face an explosion in unemployment. We need the government to enable the private sector to protect and where possible create jobs. Tax breaks for those who are taking on new starters would offer a positive incentive. An overhaul of employment law would also be welcome. We have seen a huge increase in vexatious tribunal cases since the abolition of claimant fees and we have witnessed employer costs spiral as a result.

“It is generally agreed that young people are going to be the hardest hit, therefore we need big investment into a Future Jobs initiative and into skills and training. However, we would urge the government to enable devolved administrations to establish private sector-led commissions that can map out programmes that fit regional employment needs, rather than continued provision of projects that are training today’s workforce for yesterday’s jobs."

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