A BRADFORD MP has for called for clearer guidance as to what circumstances businesses should still be operating during the current coronavirus crisis.

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins (Lab) says she has been contacted by constituents saying that they were not being protected in their workplaces and that their work was not “essential”.

And she has called on the Business Secretary Alok Sharma to clarify the rules for businesses.

She said: “We urgently need clearer guidance from the Government on who should go to work and who should stay at home. Too many people are being put in unsafe situations by non-essential employers.

“Government must act now to protect workers.”

In a letter to Mr Sharma she said while some workers were able to reduce their exposure to coronavirus by working from home, many were not able and she had been contacted by constituents saying they had been told to go to work or they would lose pay and the businesses were staying open.

She added: “Some of these are essential. Many are not.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sharma yesterday said money from the Government’s £12 billion grant scheme for businesses is already being paid out.

Mr Sharma said the money was now with local authorities and urged them to pay it out “as quickly as possible”.

He said: “This afternoon I held a call with hundreds of local authorities across England and made clear this money must reach businesses as quickly as possible.

“I know businesses across England have already started to receive these grants.”

The Chancellor, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority have also written to chief executives of UK banks to urge them to make sure the benefits of the Covid Business Interruption Loan Scheme are “passed through to businesses and consumers”, Mr Sharma confirmed.

“It would be completely unacceptable if any banks were unfairly refusing funds to good business in financial difficulty,” he warned.

“Just as the taxpayer stepped in to help the banks back in 2008, we will work with the banks to do everything they can to repay that favour and support the businesses and people of the United Kingdom in their time of need.”

Mr Sharma said that the new scheme would “not be perfect from the outset” and confirmed Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be announcing changes.

On the subject of firms operating during the pandemic, Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s portfolio for healthy people and places, said: “The vast majority of businesses are being responsible across the Bradford district and are following the Government’s advice and we thank them for acting in this way during this difficult time.

“There are still some businesses that are legitimately continuing to operate according to the Government’s rules but they must do this safely and practice physical distancing at all times.

“Unfortunately, we have had a small number of complaints that some premises are not adhering to social distancing guidance and we have had to give advice to those firms on how they can best protect their workforce.

“So far we have not served any prohibition notices but will take the appropriate action if we feel the management of the companies are not taking these issues seriously. In addition, we have been receiving enquiries from businesses looking for advice about what they need to do.”

“Our officers are also proactively telephoning all businesses that we believe may continue to be open to give appropriate advice to ensure they are aware of the latest Government restrictions. The priority is to stop the virus from spreading.”