I will make some progress because I am aware that so many Members want to speak on this critical subject.
For some businesses and staff well on their way back to normal, it is absolutely right and proper that wage support ends. As I said, we are not arguing for a continuation of the furlough scheme exactly as it stands across every sector of the economy, but for others, many of which are sectors crucial to our country’s economic future, additional targeted support could be the difference between survival and going under.
The Chancellor says that he wants to pick winners, but the necessary public health measures that his Government have enacted have created losers. Across the economy as a whole, about one in 10 workers are still furloughed. For the transport sector, it is closer to one in five. For arts and entertainment, it is one in two. Yet he is stubbornly insisting on treating every part of the economy as if it is in exactly the same situation, and in doing so putting the recovery and millions of people’s livelihoods at risk. A targeted extension of Government wage support to enable short-hours working does not mean extending support for everyone forever; it means targeting it at where it is needed most.