What assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing sector-specific access to extended bounce-back loans as part of the Government’s covid-19 recovery strategy.
The bounce-back loan scheme is aimed at helping the smallest businesses across different sectors of the economy to access the finance they need, and we have seen 1 million loans worth almost £31 billion approved since the scheme was launched on
I am grateful for the Minister’s answer. Undoubtedly, bounce-back loans have been a success of this pandemic. However, I have a concern that normally viable small and medium-sized enterprises will face acute problems due to covid and may need to make redundancies. The payments associated with redundancies may, in turn, cause normally viable companies to become insolvent, thus losing all jobs and putting more pressure on the state. With that in mind, will he consider a fund or time-limited mechanism to ensure that SMEs can provide redundancy payments due to covid, thus allowing them to remain solvent, protecting them from further job losses and providing some short-term stability for them to bounce back in the future?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Of course we recognise the importance of SMEs—there are 5.6 million businesses across the country with fewer than 10 employees, and we need their dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit as the economy starts to recover. The Government have said from the start that they will do whatever it takes to support business. The Chancellor has introduced a significant package of measures, which will be under review, and there will be further announcements in due course.