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Coronavirus: Employment Support

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 19th March 2020.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 10:30 am, 19th March 2020

It is in order for the hon. Gentleman to raise those points, and he is right to draw attention to the experience in Denmark. Throughout this crisis, the Government have acted on the best scientific and health advice, and that has clearly had to move over time. That advice has been challenged and questioned, and the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have made decisions based on the best advice available. Consequent to the health advice, which is clearly motivated to relieve as much pressure as possible on the NHS, there are other issues that we are dealing with urgently, and sequentially we are offering that advice as urgently as we can in different domains.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the Danish experience, and we are looking at the furlough system. We are looking at the proportion of support that is available, and we are also looking at the German system. In the last significant recession that happened in 2009-10—that is broadly the comparator that we could use—only 3% of German firms were helped. We are aware of what is happening in the US, and we are aware of the proposals that have been put forward by various think-tanks this morning. We are looking thoroughly at all those options, but it is very important that we have a system that delivers the support that is required to employers.

We have extended the coronavirus business interruption loan to up to £5 million. It is clear that there will be no interest payable in the first six months and no fees, and obviously we expect businesses to use that to support their employees during this time.