The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 8th July 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury) 3:46 pm, 8th July 2020

The shadow Chancellor has always been willing to work with the Chancellor and we would be very happy to engage with the Government in terms of the flexibility that we are calling for in the sector-by-sector approach. In fact, as the Government did in establishing the job retention scheme, we would encourage them to sit down with employers and trade unions to look at what support is needed, for how long and across which sectors to make sure that people come through this crisis. The challenge with what the hon. Gentleman describes is that for too many businesses it will simply be too late. When there are some businesses that are still shut down through no fault or choice of their own, it is completely unreasonable for them to see Government support beginning to wind up before they can actually open their doors to business. The public health response and the economic response have to go hand in hand. I would have thought that point would be obvious to the Government.

Part of the Government’s challenge is demand and getting consumers spending again, as we have heard, but many of the challenges are also supply side, where a cut in VAT or a £10 discount on a Tuesday night is neither here nor there. Beyond tourism and hospitality, we have seen job losses across a range of sectors in recent days and weeks. The Chancellor offered nothing for manufacturing, including for companies at risk in aerospace and automotive industries, and nothing for the businesses whose doors are still closed. We fear that the Chancellor’s refusal to accept a more flexible and tailored sector-by-sector approach to business support and job retention is a failure of judgment that will be reflected in higher unemployment figures. I would be delighted to be proven wrong on that point.

In his statement, the Chancellor said that people need to know that although hardship lies ahead, no one will be left without hope. I am afraid, as we have already heard, he offered no hope whatever to the excluded, those who have consistently fallen through the cracks of the Chancellor’s support for employed and self-employed workers. Instead, they remain forgotten. Some of this is about choices and priorities. It is not clear why many of those facing the greatest financial hardship were offered no direct financial support in what the Chancellor announced today. Those who will benefit from the cut in stamp duty will, by definition, be better off.