Protection of Jobs and Businesses

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:17 pm on 9th September 2020.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington 2:17 pm, 9th September 2020

I wish to acknowledge the tremendous campaigning efforts by members of Unite the union, my own trade union as a Unite MP, who have come down today from the aerospace, aviation and manufacturing sectors, and a variety of others, to express their concerns for their own jobs when the furlough scheme comes to an end. Those are real concerns, and those people are demanding that the Government take action now to protect workers, businesses and the wider economy from the wider economic effects of covid.

In the short time I have, I wish to talk a little about the importance of sector-specific support. Some Members may know that I am on the Transport Committee. I wish to mention one sector in particular, the coach sector. I thank TM Travel, Northeast Coachways and the Honk for Hope campaign for furnishing me with information for this debate and for their efforts to safeguard the coach industry. I wish to highlight to Members early-day motion 851, which is on the Honk for Hope campaign to protect jobs and businesses. They are trying to safeguard the long-term future of coach travel, and I want the Government to take note of that.

The sector has been sadly neglected, and specific asks are being made of Ministers. The first is that they extend finance holidays—an issue raised by Jim Shannon—by 12 months to ensure that no coaches are repossessed during the winter period, so that businesses can bounce back if there is a recovery from covid in 2021. The second ask is to designate the coach sector as part of the leisure industry to enable access to support and grants that have been made available to other leisure businesses. The third ask is to introduce a freeze on lenders seeking to repossess family homes as a result of the collapse of a coach company. The fall in demand in this sector has resulted in 98% of coaches being parked up and left in their depots off the road. The level of loss is simply unsustainable for the sector, which employs over 40,000 people, unless the Government get out of neutral and into top gear—if you will excuse the pun—and provide some sector-specific support.

The end of the furlough scheme is clearly going to cause a wave of redundancies, but coach operators, in particular, may well have to close their doors for the final time. I urge Ministers on the Treasury Bench to please look at some sector-specific support for the coach sector.