Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Nicholas Fletcher Nicholas Fletcher Conservative, Don Valley 3:55 pm, 25th June 2020

I declare an interest as my company has used the furlough scheme.

The furlough scheme and the self-employment income support scheme have been absolute wonders, and the loans of all different sizes and flexibility have been extremely well received. In fact, in my first ever webinar with Doncaster chambers of commerce, which of course I believe is the best in the country, a poll was carried out where all 30 delegates said that the Government had done an excellent job—high praise, but deservedly so. As a businessman, I know full well that it has been a tough time, so much so that even after all the monumental efforts from the Government things will look decidedly different post covid. I have no doubt that that genuinely frightens many people, but the longer we stay off work the harder it is for us to go back.

Let us take the building industry, for example. I have worked in this sector for many years and it is physically tough. When you have not been doing it for a while, it is hard to go back to. My ask is this: I want large firms, with furloughed employees that are waiting for another initiative while sitting on huge bank balances, to make the first move—not to use social distancing as an excuse not to go to work, but now as an excuse to go to work. We need those building companies to start finishing the houses they started pre-covid, get the footings dug for the next phase, press suppliers to make sure materials are there, pay everyone a little earlier and get confidence back in business. We can wait on Government initiatives and we can blame covid, or we can get stuck in and build our way out of this recession. Or we can all wait to see who moves first—by doing that, we will fail. Let us all start today, not on Monday or a week on Monday. Let us start now. It is imperative. I tell the building firms and all the other big companies that their workforces will thank them for it.

I also ask the Treasury to use whatever it has at its disposal to get this country back to work. I urge the Minister to consider how measures, such as reducing VAT, a reduction in national insurance contributions or scrapping stamp duty, would help to get our great businesses moving again. We cannot rely on support schemes for ever. We need to get back to work. I therefore urge every cash-rich company to do its bit and put its best foot forward and do everything it can. I ask the people of this country to do the same and our Government to consider my suggestions. We are all stakeholders in our future. We are all in this together. We will all win together, or we will all lose together. It is going to be tough, but I will do my bit. Will the risk-takers out there do theirs? If they do, our country will take its rightful place as the envy of the world.