The Treasury paid out nearly £14 million in business grants in my constituency, instant cash that was vital to keeping businesses going during a situation that none of us wanted or could have foreseen. I must also mention the fantastic eat out to help out scheme. It has been widely welcomed by my constituents. Pubs and restaurants from Great Barr to Greets Green and from Friar Park to Newton have taken advantage, serving up 91,000 discounted meals in total across the constituency. In August, I had the pleasure of visiting the Sportsman, the Yew Tree, the Island Inn and the Cricketers Arms, to name just a few, and of course, I took my team to the amazing Red Lion.
Everywhere I went, the Chancellor’s support was hugely appreciated, and 13,400 jobs in West Bromwich East were supported by the furlough scheme. Over the summer recess, I visited Rimstock, Guest Truck and Van, and Sheldon Clayton Logistics—all brilliant businesses in West Bromwich East that benefited from the furlough scheme. It was a genuine lifeline for many businesses. However, a phasing-out of the furlough scheme is ultimately the right thing to do now. The scheme has rightly supported millions since it was introduced, but we cannot continue to run a labour market where people’s jobs are completely dependent on the state making them viable. I have listened with great interest to the Opposition, and it is not clear which sector they want to support, how long for or at what cost. I fear that the shadow Chancellor did not know either.
The Opposition seem to have also neglected to mention that it is not just in this country that support measures are coming to an end this autumn. Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland have all announced that their equivalent wage support schemes will be phased out over the coming months. The Bank of England’s chief economist hit the nail on the head when he said that extending the furlough scheme meant
“prolonging the inevitable in a way that probably doesn’t help either the individual or the business.”
He is right.
We need to turn our attention to providing new opportunities for people. We must bring the public finances back under control. I am a big fan of the Chancellor’s kickstart scheme, and we need to go further for young people. We are looking at an entire generation of young people who have had their early career stalled through no fault of their own. That is where the Government need to step in, and it is also why I support the Prime Minister when he says that young people need to get back into the office because it is they who benefit from peer support, guidance, role models and progression.