Despite ‘some really positive data out there’, it doesn’t seem to be feeding into government policy as far as the roadmap to recovery is concerned. Gambling Business Group CEO Peter Hannibal is anxious that we’re working to ‘not before’ dates and that will serve to drag the industry back. So, it’s down to a package of crucial support measures from the chancellor; cutting taxes, managing inflation levels and restoring confidence are high on the Hannibal checklist.
Does the government’s roadmap provide you with a clear path for a return to business?
It provides some dates for land-based businesses to prepare for and target but the path is too circuitous and the journey is slow and exhausting. It feels like the ‘data’ is only used when it rings alarm bells and justifies a regressive or negative position. Thanks to the immunisation programme there is some really positive data out there which should be highlighted, debated and fed into the decision making. The government’s use of ‘not before’ dates proves this point. No matter how positive the data is, we won’t be opening any earlier and in fact the only concrete date is the return of schools on March 8th – after that everything could shift – but only backwards. Gambling Business Group would like to see the set of metrics which will be used to make the decisions. The R factor is hardly ever quoted yet four months ago it was the foundation stone of the government’s thinking. What’s most frustrating is that the vaccine programme should be accelerating the lifting of the lockdown – but it isn’t !!
We have the budget this week, what does the chancellor need to do to make the roadmap work for you?
As a strategy the Chancellor should be cutting taxes on business and not looking to increase them. Many businesses are in the economic equivalent of intensive care and they need to be nursed back to full health. The cuts should be to MGD alongside an extension to the rates holiday. Furlough needs to be extended and any temptation to increase the level of Corporation Tax avoided. The twin challenges are to build consumer confidence by avoiding spikes in the unemployment rate which is already at a 5-year high, and avoid inflation rising above the 2 percent target set by the Bank of England. When a patient is in intensive care the last thing you should be doing is asking them for more blood!