BIG BUSINESS warned yesterday that, with the return of the lockdown by PM Johnson, thousands of firms will go to the wall. They demanded that state aid to the tune of hundreds more billions of pounds be handed to them to save what is left of the disintegrating UK capitalist economy.
The embattled pub and beer bosses said their ‘road to recovery just got longer’ while the director general of the CBI business group, Tony Danker, chimed in with ‘the comprehensive restrictions require a new comprehensive response.’
He added: ‘We’ve seen lockdowns before, we know what impact they have.’ He warned that firms which do not receive further financial support, such as VAT payment deferrals, could ‘act precipitously’ and make savage job cuts.
The CBI’s call for more help was echoed by the British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall. He said companies would be ‘baffled and disappointed by the fact that the PM did not announce additional support for affected businesses alongside these new restrictions.’ Marshall spelt it out that billions of pounds had already been spent ‘helping good firms survive and they must do so again.’
The Chief Executive of the manufacturing group Make UK, Stephen Phipson, also called for additional aid, saying: ‘It is now critical that the government revisits the business support packages.’
The TUC also chimed in to give its support to the bosses with General Secretary Frances O’Grady saying the government’s financial support package is not good enough to cope with the renewed restrictions.
She added: ‘Without more support, jobs will be lost and businesses will close … Ministers must act quickly by providing targeted help for hard-hit industries, boosting sick pay to a real living wage so that people can afford to self-isolate, and by increasing Universal Credit.’
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said: ‘Given the circumstances, a wave of business failures is imminent unless a greater package of financial support from the government is given to secure pubs and the brewers that supply them.
‘That means grants in line with those in the first lockdown and support beyond April when the business rates holiday, lower VAT rates and furlough scheme all end.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has responded to the pleas of the bosses and TUC bureaucrats. He has rushed in to state that £594m will be made available now to affected firms. In total, the package of measures will be worth £4.6bn across the UK.
‘This will help businesses to get through the months ahead – and crucially it will help sustain jobs, so workers can be ready to return when they are able to reopen,’ said Sunak.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) Deaton Review of Inequalities issued a warning that the fabric of society is under threat. The cost of the pandemic is ‘just colossal’ IFS director Paul Johnson told the BBC’s Today programme.
‘We’ve seen the biggest reduction in national income, essentially in history over the last year, we’ve seen the biggest public deficit in history outside of the two world wars, so there’s no getting around the fact that the pandemic and the response to it has had a bigger effect on the economy than anything essentially in the whole of history.’
Meanwhile, Wall Street slid the furthest in 10 weeks as Mervyn King, the ex governor of the Bank of England, warned that another big crash is on the way. He told the American Economic Association annual meeting that debt levels relative to GDP are higher than in the run-up to the 2008 crash.
The truth is that while the Tories are willing to pay out many more billions to try to save bankrupt capitalist firms, Chancellor Sunak is preparing a March 3rd Budget clawback of billions of pounds from the working class to make it start paying the full bill for the continuing crisis of the capitalists and the UK ruling class.
There is only one way forward for the working class.
The teachers’ unions have just forced Johnson to change his policy overnight and close the schools that he vowed would stay open! The trade unions must learn their lesson from this. This is that they are more powerful than the government and the ruling class if they use their full power decisively.
Workers must sack the present TUC leaders and bring forward a new revolutionary leadership for the trade unions that that will organise a general strike to bring down the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and a socialist planned economy.