Protection of Jobs and Businesses

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:52 pm on 9th September 2020.

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Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 3:52 pm, 9th September 2020

It is a privilege to close this debate on behalf of Government. I thank hon. and right hon. Members across the House for their varied and considered contributions. The Government have worked closely with colleagues across the House to help to define the interventions that we have made. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken), for Dudley South (Mike Wood) and for Moray (Douglas Ross) for making further constructive contributions today.

I think I can discern four themes on which to base my remarks. First, many colleagues have referenced the support from the schemes that the Government have introduced over recent months. The Government have acted decisively to protect people’s livelihoods and support businesses, with what has been one of the most generous and comprehensive responses in the world. The Government have supported people, businesses and our public services with over £190 billion. The OBR and the Bank of England agree that the actions that we have taken in the first phase of our response have helped to safeguard millions of jobs and that without them there would have been far worse outcomes. The OBR has said that the positive action that the Government have taken

“should…help to limit any long-term economic ‘scarring’, by keeping workers attached to firms and helping otherwise viable firms stay in business.”

At the heart of today’s debate is the fact we have supported more than 9.6 million furloughed workers and 2.6 million self-employed individuals through our schemes, as my hon. Friend Stephen Hammond and others recognised. We have helped millions of the most vulnerable people in the country, with a more generous welfare system, a hardship fund and financial support through mortgage and credit payment holidays. We have intervened to reduce income losses faced by working households by up to two thirds, with the poorest working households protected the most—a point that was welcomed by my right hon. Friend Stephen Crabb. We have produced extensive support schemes, working with businesses, with tax cuts, tax deferrals, direct cash grants and an extensive programme of loan schemes. I will be happy to engage with Chris Elmore and Joanna Cherry on the specific concerns they raised about various schemes.

Of course, the direct cash grants to businesses that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has just announced will give businesses either £1,000 or £1,500, depending on rateable value, for each three-week period that they are closed. That will provide vital support to closed businesses throughout the difficult but temporary experience of local lockdown—measures that have been urged by colleagues such as my hon. Friend Mark Logan throughout these difficult weeks.