Page 21 - London Business Matters May 2020
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 May 2020 Opinion 21 Planning for the recovery by Richard Burge Planning is fundamental for any successful business. On a dai- ly basis, businesswomen and men dedicatedly plan for a multi- tude of things to ensure their busi- ness is profitable and continues to employ people. Successful business- es not only plan for good times, but also for bad. And these are indeed bad times. But the parameters on which business would normally plan are very different right now. A pandem- ic of this scale is uncharted for so many of us. That’s why the govern- ment support package has been so welcome and allowed for short-term planning. But businesses need to be able to plan for what comes next. We know there is still much we need to learn about Covid-19, so there cannot be a date set yet to ease lockdown. But business must have an inkling of what the process will be in order to prepare for restart. Science Businesses understand that pro- cess may be interrupted, paused, even rowed back. And know that a much bigger disaster would be going back to normal without following the science needed to defeat the disease. Gradual withdrawal of restrictive measures is likely, replaced by prob- ably permanent changes to increase our resilience to the return of this disease and our ability to respond quickly to another pandemic. The ability for London to plan is particularly important as it is the engine that fires the entire national economy. Around 20 per cent of the nation relies on Greater Lon- don directly for their employment and livelihood. Without an effec- tive London, the nation’s economy will splutter and misfire. And given London is a global City (in terms of its economic diversity, arguably the global city), it is key to global Cov- id-19 recovery. Investment In addition to measures that London businesses will put in place themselves, we need to identify what help government needs to give in loans, rate reductions, and inno- “Without an effective London, the nation’s economy will splutter and misfire.” vative tax credits to enable business to reorder goods, and re-engage staff, to secure investment. Beyond the workplace we need discussion about how London plans its infrastructure. For example, London relies on its public transport network, but in order to cope with our new reality we need to intro- duce new incentives and fare struc- tures to embed home working and to destroy the rush hour through diverse opening hours. Business will be the engine of our recovery, so it must be a partner in planning for it. Richard Burge is chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

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