I shall use my three minutes to talk about three of the essentials in life: jobs, homes and pubs.
First, on jobs, before covid, the creative industries were worth £100 billion to our economy every year and were one of the fastest growing sectors. Many of the 3 million who have been excluded from Government schemes are freelancers in the creative industries. The creative industries also lose out on £55 million every year because of how the apprenticeship levy is structured. It is too rigid and does not respond to this flexible dynamic industry. I urge the Government to reform the apprenticeship levy, so that it supports the ecosystem of freelancers who serve the sector as a whole.
Secondly, on homes, I welcome the plan to start insulating homes, but we must also make them safe. I say this as a member of the Fire Safety Bill Committee who has been looking line by line at the first piece of post-Grenfell legislation. We need a much higher level of ambition and funding to make homes not just warm, but safe, and I encourage the Minister to look at creating some of the very first new jobs and apprenticeships in the fire safety sector, so that homes can be warm and safe.
Thirdly, on pubs and restaurants, as the MP for St Albans, I will never tire of saying that we have more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in the UK and I will use every opportunity to remind the House of that. I welcome the VAT cut that has been announced today, but we also need to turbo-charge the business rates review. We must level the playing field on VAT for the long-term between the on-trade and the off-trade. I urge the Minister to keep an open mind on one-off, tailored, bespoke extensions of furlough where it is needed, because some of our pubs are being asked to renew leases for five or 10 years. They need to know that they have the Government support to make it through to next spring. Finally, I urge the Government to publish the long-overdue code of practice for the leased pub industry that has been promised.