Our Chancellor said he would do “whatever it takes” and the support that has been provided has been unprecedented. I have always said that there is no such thing as Government money, just taxpayers’ money, and we need sustainable public finances, but this programme was the right thing to do. In my constituency and up and down the country, high streets have struggled as more people shop online and visit out-of-town retail parks. The last thing they needed were the extra challenges posed by covid-19, having to close down and facing the prospect of making staff redundant. The small business grants, about £28 million in the first instance and then an additional £1.18 million in discretionary grants, have saved many businesses. The furlough scheme, used by 13,900 people in Bassetlaw, has no doubt saved many jobs too. We are talking about people who, through no fault of their own, suddenly found themselves unable to pay their household bills, mortgages and other living expenses. The scheme gave them the means to do that. Now we need to get people back to work.
The construction scheme has been able to start up again, get staff off furlough and back into work to build the homes we need. Many people have been able to move once more, aided by the Chancellor’s stamp duty measures. As a newly adopted Retfordian, I have seen at first hand the growing recovery in the town centre. We owe a debt of gratitude to businesses and local volunteers who have helped to create the conditions where people can again use our shops, hairdressers, pubs and restaurants safely. In Bassetlaw alone, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been used for up to 72,000 meals. In a post on my Facebook page, the owners of the Shireoaks Inn in Worksop said, “This scheme has given my pub a massive boost and has secured the jobs for all my staff for the foreseeable future”.