By Scott Wright

Lord Karan Bilimoria, the president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has declared that the “top down” approach adopted by the UK Government to manage conronavirus has failed.

Speaking as the UK Government launched a three-tier Covid alert system to manage the disease in England, now expected to be followed by a similar strategy in Scotland, Lord Bilimoria said: “We at the CBI have been saying for a while that we should have a tiered system with lockdowns. At the moment, we have got 30 per cent of the country in some form of restriction or lockdown.

“As we go forward, with infections rising, with the second wave, people need clarity, businesses need as much clarity as possible, and also to work locally within England with the different cities and regions, and with the devolved nations. It needs to be done in a collaborative, partnership way, with the central government.”

Lord Bilimoria added: “That’s what I’ve seen throughout this whole pandemic since March. What has not worked is central, top-down [decision making], whether it is NHS [or] Public Health England. What has worked is collaboration.”

Lord Bilimoria noted that the most successful aspects of managing the pandemic have come when the UK Government has worked in collaboration with business, citing the drive to manufacture ventilators earlier this year and the development of the Nightingale hospitals. A similar move, he said, should be taken to ensure UK companies play a role in the development of LAMP mobile testing, which would allow people to have test results delivered straight to devices such as laptops.

Lord Bilimoria said: “These are boxes that can be manufactured in the UK. We had the ventilator challenge, and look at how British industry and business rose to that challenge, and we never had any ventilator shortage. If we had the affordable test and these LAMP tests, you are really able to do that testing that keeps people safe, that picks up the disease and allows the economy to fire on all cylinders.”