OPINION - Evening Standard Comment: Plan B is ending – now we need a plan for London’s recovery

·2-min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

The fightback starts here. After weeks of work from home guidance, Plan B restrictions will be lifted on 26 January, heralding the return of commuters to central London offices.

We welcome the move and the data backs it up — cases are falling, while hospitals are not showing signs of becoming overwhelmed by the virus. What is needed now is a concerted effort to return London to its pre-pandemic state.

Our retail and hospitality sectors — among others — have missed out on two successive Christmas seasons, have taken on debt and now face a rising tax burden. This therefore remains a perilous moment. That is why we join London businesses in calling for a substantial package of measures to help the capital get back on its feet after this unprecedented peacetime disruption.

Businesses are asking for a variety of measures, including a further deferral of VAT and businesses tax reliefs due to end in April, a massive international marketing campaign to lure back foreign tourists and a programme of celebratory events to give people more reasons to return to the city centre.

These will require a fundamental change in posture from the Government, which all too often has appeared at ease with bashing London. This is both politically nonsensical and economically misguided.

Our city is the engine of the UK economy, representing roughly 20 per cent of GDP. Simply put, there will be no nationwide recovery unless the capital is firing on all cylinders.

It will not happen overnight. London has suffered disproportionately from the pandemic, given our large tourism, entertainment and hospitality sectors. And now millions face a cost of living crisis, with soaring energy bills, food prices and higher taxes.

That is why the capital’s comeback will require nothing less than a government fully focused on recovery, growth and returning our city to its pre-pandemic heights.

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