Clause 4 - Multi-annual financial assistance plans

Part of Agriculture Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 12th October 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:02 pm, 12th October 2020

My right hon. Friend will be very pleased, when I come on to that section of my speech, to hear the reassurances that I hope I will be able to give him.

Back to amendment 9, and I think the report we have promised within six months of Henry Dimbleby’s report will in fact come sooner than is set out in this amendment.

The response to the pandemic has demonstrated again and again the resilience of our UK food supply chain, and I am really pleased with how well Government and industry have worked together. I would like to thank everyone in the food industry—from our farmers to those in retail and everybody in between—for responding so quickly and efficiently to some very challenging conditions.

It was a real privilege to chair the cross-Whitehall ministerial taskforce, which tried to ensure that food and other essential supplies reached the vulnerable. We worked with industry to smooth the way wherever possible, including relaxing competition laws and drivers’ hours. We have also worked with retailers to massively increase the number of online delivery slots. We are all too aware that many find themselves in food poverty for the first time. As the taskforce, we were able to secure £16 million, which we gave to frontline charities that are directly helping get food to those in need, and we allocated £63 million to local authorities so that they can provide direct support to people who cannot afford food.