Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Economic Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:17 pm on 17th March 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chancellor of the Exchequer 7:17 pm, 17th March 2020

I thank the hon. Member for her comments. I can reassure her that I am listening. I welcome all the suggestions that she has made, and indeed all those that other hon. Members will make. We are listening intently to hon. Members, and to businesses and others, to ensure that we provide the support required.

Let me answer the hon. Member’s specific questions. The Barnett consequentials resulting from today’s package will be about £3.5 billion. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will be speaking to the Scottish Finance Secretary tomorrow to explain in more detail how that will work. Earlier this week we released the Barnett consequentials to the devolved authorities before the money has been drawn down in England, as would be typical, in order to provide advance on the Barnett consequentials to all devolved authorities in recognition of the circumstances that everyone is grappling with, so that they can plan appropriately. I hope that will be welcomed.

Obviously, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on specific interventions in any particular company, whether an airline or anything else, but I agree with the hon. Member that in general we are interested in protecting people’s jobs. When I stand here and talk about supporting businesses, I am keen to support businesses because that is the best way to protect jobs, and ultimately that is the best way to protect people.

The hon. Member asked about cash grants. In thinking about the scale of the grants and how significant they might be, let us take the £10,000 grant available for anyone currently in receipt of small business rate relief. The typical rateable value on one of those properties would be approximately £7,000. That is a good proxy for a year’s worth of rent. A £10,000 cash grant is therefore reasonably significant in covering what is probably a business’s biggest fixed cost. When we look at what the average income of one of those smaller businesses might be, again we see that it will be significant.

The hon. Member talked about pubs and the leisure sector. Not only will there be a business rates holiday for the sector for the next 12 months, but for all businesses in the sector, regardless of their rateable value, there will be a £25,000 cash grant for businesses up to £51,000.

The hon. Member asked about insurance. The statement is welcome on insurance. With regard to retrospectively changing insurance policies, she rightly identified that that would most likely cause solvency issues with insurance companies, so it is perhaps not the most appropriate course of action, which is why we have several other measures for providing support directly to businesses in those circumstances. She will probably be aware that very few businesses actually have the requisite insurance in any case, so although the steps set out today are welcome, it is important that we think more broadly about direct support.

I welcome the hon. Member’s question on maternity pay, which I will discuss with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and reflect on. With regard to renters, as I said in my earlier answer, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will shortly announce further measures to protect renters.

The hon. Lady talked about other countries, and about fiscal responses and individual measures. Every country is doing this slightly differently, but, broadly, are trying to do the same things through different means. I think that the best way to judge us is by the total scale of our fiscal response, and on that metric, as a percentage of GDP benchmarked to nearly all developed countries, we have what is to date one of the most comprehensive and significant packages of scale—which, as I have said, underlies our commitment to doing what it takes to get the country through this.