The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 8th July 2020.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 6:52 pm, 8th July 2020

I will not, given the time.

It is a plan that puts young people front and centre, with a kick-start scheme that will pay employers to create quality jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment, alongside new funding for apprenticeships, traineeships and sector-based work academies. We shall be issuing guidance very shortly on how those schemes will interact with the extra support that we are putting into jobcentres. It also means that we shall invest in infrastructure, decarbonisation, and maintenance projects that will serve the needs of communities across the country, while creating jobs and apprenticeships here and now.

Through our collective efforts, coronavirus has been brought under control in this country, but it has not disappeared completely. Even as our economy reopens, many businesses and families will continue to face significant challenges. The Chancellor made it clear today that the Government are not driven by ideology; we are guided by the simple desire to do what is right. For that reason, we will continue to take significant steps to support the economy in the weeks ahead. We will, for example, inject new certainty and confidence into the housing market by increasing the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 for first-time buyers. That recognises the additional expenditure in the economy derived from a house purchase, and, we anticipate, will have a significant effect.

Few sectors have been harder-hit, though, than retail, hospitality and entertainment, so, from next Wednesday, VAT on food, accommodation and attractions will be cut from 20% to 5%. I welcome the positive comments from across the House for that measure. Through the month of August, everyone in the country will be entitled to a Government-funded discount of 50% in restaurants, pubs and cafés, Monday to Wednesday. The “eat out to help out” discount is the first of its kind in this country, and proof that the Government will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods.

I shall now mention some of the themes of this afternoon’s debate. My hon. Friends the Members for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton), for High Peak (Robert Largan) and for Keighley (Robbie Moore) emphasised the need for investment in local infrastructure and levelling up, and that means investing now to prevent long-term damage to the economy and support the private sector. That is why the Government have brought forward the shovel-ready projects.

On the theme of sustainable public finances and recapitalisation, my right hon. Friends the Members for Wokingham (John Redwood) and for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) and my hon. Friend Richard Fuller recognised the challenges ahead with respect to the third phase that the Chancellor referred to today, and we shall be responding in the Budget later this year. My hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire raised a particularly important point about the need to encourage the private sector to generate the jobs ahead.

My neighbour, my right hon. Friend Caroline Nokes, made a passionate speech, referring to the need to address urgently the challenges faced by the beauty industry. She also mentioned the disproportionate impact on women, people from the BAME community and the disabled, and we shall be responding to the excellent report that her Committee, the Women and Equalities Committee, produced in the spring.

There was a moment of synergy between my hon. Friends the Members for Buckingham (Greg Smith) and for St Albans (Daisy Cooper) as they backed the “eat out to help out” campaign, and my hon. Friend Richard Drax emphasised his commitment to that in terms of support for pubs.

There were also references to the need for resilience with our local authorities, who have received £3.7 billion in new grant funding. We will work closely with local authorities as we move into the next stage.