Business Secretary sets out government commitment to support firms during four-week lockdown

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The government have set out their plans to support businesses through the next national lockdown. In a speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) virtual annual conference, Alok Sharma will reassure businesses that the government has a long-term plan to build a more resilient and high-skilled UK economy by the end of the decade – underpinned by a focus on the foundations of growth: infrastructure investment, skills, and supporting private sector innovation.

The new growth plan will be published next year and will focus on a more strategic approach to building UK strengths in key growth technologies, supported by smarter business regulation.

The plan will set out how the government will work with local leaders to rebalance the economy by backing our major cities as engines of economic growth and unleashing regional growth clusters in clean energy, advanced manufacturing, cyber security technology, and the life sciences.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma is expected to say: “As we work with and support you through the pandemic, we will lay the foundations for future growth that will endure long after we have emerged from the shadow of Coronavirus.

“I want you to help me build on those foundations – to work with you as our new plan for growth takes shape in the months ahead and is published in the New Year. Creating a more resilient, cleaner, greener economy, in which we have control of our own laws and trading policies. Providing new opportunities for businesses across the UK, and delivering growth and jobs.

“So that a decade from now, when the CBI gathers for its 2030 conference, we will be able to say: ‘We built it together. A revived, rejuvenated, sovereign and technology-leading United Kingdom, with opportunity and prosperity spread equally across our great nation.”

On Saturday evening, the Prime Minister announced further restrictions will be implemented across England, to take action to control the virus and protect the NHS.

This means that from Thursday 5 November, until Wednesday 2 December non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will close, and pubs, bars and restaurants will close, except for takeaway and delivery services. However, people will be able to travel to work, where necessary to allow them to do continue to do their job.

Alongside these restriction measures, the government has announced further support to help businesses and try to protect jobs. These include an extension of the furlough scheme at 80% to protect jobs, grants of up to £3,000 for premises that are forced to close, and £1.1bn for local authorities to enable them to support businesses.

In his speech, the Business Secretary will also pay tribute to CBI Director-General Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, who will be stepping down later this month after five years in the role.

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