The head of the UK’s largest business lobbying group has said that the UK must begin to plan its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic even while the death toll continues to rise.
Speaking to Sky News, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the CBI, said that “we need to begin to chart a route to economic recovery”.
Fairbairn’s comments came after the Office of Budgetary Responsibility published data suggesting that the UK’s economy could shrink by 35 per cent in the second quarter.
She added that the plan would require input from all corners of the UK’s business landscape:
“This plan needs to hear from many voices – from business, employees, unions, all political parties, other parts of civil society.
“Government has much to do and no-one doubts it is at full stretch, but now is the time to start building the UK’s revival plan.
“British business stands ready to play its full part.”
The restrictions imposed in an attempt to limit the spread of the pandemic have battered the UK economy in recent weeks, with businesses across the country in hibernation.
Despite state intervention on a hitherto unprecedented scale, many companies have been forced to close. According to the OBR’s report, the number of unemployed people is set to jump by 2m in the next quarter.
The government has said that it does not yet have sufficient evidence to say whether the social distancing measures it has put in place have been effective, which will be crucial in determining when to begin to ease restrictions.
Earlier today chancellor Rishi Sunak said that there was no trade-off between the UK’s economic health and that of its people.
“The single most important thing we can do for the economy is protect the health of our people,” he said.
“It’s not a case of choosing between the economy and public health – common sense tells us that would be self defeating.
“The absolute priority must be to focus all our resources…in a collective national effort to beat this virus.”