Economic Outlook and Furlough Scheme Changes

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 12:39 pm, 16th June 2020

I thank the hon. Lady for her questions. In the middle of a crisis, with emergency responses being brought out almost every other week, it would be a brave person who could commit to any sensible forecast with a degree of accuracy of what the future may bring. We have already seen astonishing changes to levels of GDP even in a month.

On the points the hon. Lady raises, I just remind her that the job retention scheme has so far supported nearly 9 million people—8.9 million people—and 1.1 million businesses. The self-employed scheme has supported 2.3 million individuals at a cost of £6.8 billion. Both schemes were brought in at record speed precisely to address the critical need to get the vast majority of people the support they would need, and to target that, wherever possible, on the most vulnerable. I do not think that those were mistakes. I do not think it would have been right to delay the process. I think it has been recognised by Opposition Members across the piece that a delayed response—which, on advice received from experts within HMRC and elsewhere, would have been the inevitable result—would have been a mistake and we took the view that we should proceed. I put it to the hon. Lady that the two schemes in question, together with a plethora of other support, have been extremely effective.