Firms struggling to buy ‘Covid-19 Secure’ equipment

Business secretary Alok Sharma. Photo: PA Video/PA Wire/PA Images

Organisations are struggling to buy the protective equipment needed to make them ‘Covid-19 Secure’ and get employees back to work, the chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee has said.

In a letter to business secretary Alok Sharma, Darren Jones put forward a number of concerns businesses had around access to equipment, the handling of health and safety disputes, the supply of face masks and price hikes.

Jones said: “Many businesses are struggling to buy the right protective kit to make their workplaces Covid-19 Secure. Immediate action is needed from government to help small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, to access the protection kit they need to get their businesses moving.

“I hope the government will come forward with more detail on what they are doing to help businesses ensure their workplaces are Covid-19 Secure and the action they are taking to help shops and other high-street business operate safely and restore consumer confidence.

“Workers must be supported in these difficult times too. Many workers will be facing pressures to return to work while having concerns about the safety measures in place. To help reassure workers, I hope the secretary of state will outline what support his department is providing to ensure workplace disputes related to Covid-19 Secure health and safety issues are resolved quickly.”

Last week, consumer group Which? told the BEIS committee that suppliers had implemented “ridiculous” price hikes on essential products. Jones said the government should take emergency action to protect buyers and ensure those selling products at over-inflated prices are penalised.

The committee also heard that employers wanted to see further furlough scheme flexibility and more financial support.

“In our recent evidence session for our coronavirus inquiry, a series of business, worker and consumer voices made the case for the government to begin the thinking now on the levels of support which will be needed as the country moves out of lockdown and seeks to recover from this crisis,” added Jones.

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