Protection of Jobs and Businesses

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:02 pm on 9th September 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee, Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee 2:02 pm, 9th September 2020

I am not going to give way—forgive me. For me, the subject we are discussing today is about two things. One is how we support livelihoods. How do we support families and help keep them afloat during this crisis? There is a point I would like to make, which has not yet been made, about the strengthening of our social security system. Alongside the schemes to support businesses and jobs early on in the crisis, the Treasury took the very important decision to put extra money into universal credit as a temporary measure. If I may make one plea to those on the Treasury Bench this afternoon, it is that they need to decide very quickly that that increase should stay in place for next spring for those families, many of whom will still be adjusting to having lost their jobs and having perhaps moved from furlough to benefits, and many of them will find that a very hard landing indeed. Any prospect that we are going to remove that additional money next spring is for me unthinkable.

This debate is also about how we protect key strategic parts of our economy and our national life, and how we ensure that they come through this crisis without too much irreparable damage. I confess that I have some sympathy for some of the opinions that have been expressed on both sides of the House this afternoon. I have talked about extending furlough in a targeted way previously, but I absolutely do recognise from the conversations that I have had with trade bodies and with Ministers in recent days and weeks just how difficult it is to pin down and define a targeted extension of furlough. None the less, I plead with Ministers to keep an open mind when we talk about these sectors. I think about the enormous manufacturing operation of Airbus in north Wales and how strategically important it is for Wales and the United Kingdom. I also think about all those padlocked theatres a short walk from here in the west end and in every city centre up and down the country.

We want to protect key parts of our economy and our national life, and I really urge Ministers to keep an open mind about how we do that. They need to think flexibly and work collaboratively with unions and trade bodies on getting our economy through this crisis.