Wrexham’s MP, Sarah Atherton, has urged the Welsh Government to reopen Wales’ economy in line with England, so that Welsh businesses are not left to suffer.
In a letter to the Welsh Minister for the Economy, Ken Skates, Sarah Atherton relayed concerns expressed by local business owners.
“I am concerned about the future of businesses in Wales, particularly in border constituencies such as Wrexham, being negatively affected by differing lockdown rules between England and Wales.
“As you know, many businesses in England will be reopening this month, albeit with social distancing policies in place to protect staff and customers. I have been contacted by many businesses in Wrexham, concerned about both the short-term and long-term impact of their not being able to reopen at the same time.
“As you are aware, around 80% of businesses in Wales have taken advantage of the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. However, there are a number of ways in which a delay to easing the lockdown could, in the long term, directly harm the viability of local businesses:
- In border towns such as Wrexham, people can easily access goods and services in England (only a few miles away) if they are unavailable in Wales. For some businesses this will mean losing out to their competitors in England.
- Having spent several months with no income, many businesses will rely on an initial rush once lockdown lifts, in order to start paying salaries again and allow them to become profitable in the medium-term. If customers have already headed over to England to purchase goods or services, this rush will not come and businesses may become insolvent as a consequence.
- Service businesses rely heavily on customer loyalty and repeat business. If people switch provider, they are extremely unlikely to return once lockdown has ended in Wales.
“I would urge the Welsh Government to allow the lockdown in Wales to ease and end at the same time, and with the same conditions, as England, in order to protect businesses on the border, in constituencies such as yours and mine.”