The Government’s vital support for businesses and jobs across the country throughout this crisis has been unprecedented. In my constituency, we have seen 11,800 jobs protected under the job retention scheme, £9.1 million of support for the self-employed, over £440 million of bounce back loans for small businesses, £89 million of business grants and 849,000 meals discounted—I am only responsible for a couple of them—thanks to the brilliant eat out to help out scheme.
Despite that much-needed support, central London is still struggling. Pre covid, over 600,000 commuters came into Westminster every day to work, with another 500,000 in the City of London. The local economy relies on those workers spending in small shops and independent cafés and restaurants, but they are not coming back in the same numbers. Central London is the economic powerhouse of UK plc, driving forward this Government’s levelling-up agenda, and it is usually the first out of the traps following a recession or downturn. Sadly, this time, it looks like we will be one of the last. That is why I have produced a plan, which the Government may wish to consider, that could help to protect jobs and businesses not only in my constituency but across the country.
The furlough scheme has secured hundreds of thousands of jobs in the west end. I appreciate the reasons why the Government are bringing the scheme to an end next month, which we must do to sustain our public services. As the MP for theatreland, I want to ensure that we protect theatres even more. I welcome the Government’s £1.5 billion cultural support package, but I hope that we can keep theatres open when they come back in the new year, and a bit more help for them would be welcome.