ONS data recently revealed that 62 per cent of adults reported commuting to work last week compared with 36 per cent in May. It’s welcome news and a step in the right direction. However, I fear it is papering over the cracks.
At the height of lockdown, our front-of-house security officers and other key workers were able to drive into the city centre and park up at their convenience to help protect people and buildings whilst others were forced to stay in.
Now they fall into costly congestion charges from 7am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday. As a result they are inevitably taking the tube alongside what is an increasing number of commuters, thus putting their health and safety at risk.
I understand that the government needs to encourage people back into city centres, but it shouldn’t risk the health and safety of our key workers who also need to use public transport. A balance must be found.
I urge the government to consider a temporary cut to the congestion charges, specifically for key workers – at least until it is satisfied that Covid-19 numbers are decreasing. With consistent reports of regional lockdowns and local restrictions, key workers are set to step up once again. They need any support that we all collectively give them.
People have realised the crucial role security officers have played throughout the pandemic. The perception of them and their responsibilities have changed. They are responsible, highly-skilled and well-trained people who have been putting their wellbeing on the line to protect others – it would be good if the favour was returned by the powers that be.
As workplaces reopen, the public will soon appreciate security officers’ efforts to make the process as safe and seamless as possible. Like other frontline roles, their contribution in helping things return to some form of normal will be crucial. And it should never be forgotten.
Theo Nicolaou is managing director of SmartSec Solutions