Covid-19: Economic Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:32 pm, 12th May 2020

When we announced the job retention scheme, I said clearly that it would apply for those of whom HMRC was aware on 28 February. We were able, while protecting the taxpayer against fraud, to extend that date to 19 March, the day before I made the announcement, which is reasonable, in the sense that without HMRC or the Government knowing whether someone was actually employed the scope for fraud would be considerable. I did not think it appropriate to expose the taxpayer to that.

That change to 19 March brought in 230,000 of the 350,000-odd people that the hon. Gentleman talks about. Yes, that left a number of people who could not be covered, but for a reason that I believe is defensible. The scheme is able to cover the 29.5 million people who were notified to HMRC on that date; indeed, 7.5 million of them are benefiting from it. We should not lose sight of that. The scheme is doing an enormous amount for several million people up and down this country.