Public Health Restrictions: Government Economic Support

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 12:38 pm, 13th October 2020

I have always found the hon. Gentleman constructive, and I welcome the fact that he is looking at the fiscal position we face as a country and how we may address that. It would be remiss of me, given my responsibilities, to stray into the terrain of the next Budget and tax-raising measures; I will leave that for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the very serious issue of youth unemployment. I think it is an issue that concerns us all in this House. The sectors that are most hit have concentrations of young people, particularly in the hospitality sector. It is really at the heart of the winter plan that my right hon. Friend brought forward in doubling the number of work coaches, in tripling the number of traineeships and with the £2,000 for apprenticeships. We have been looking at and learning from not just the Thatcher era, but actually from the previous Labour Government with some of the packages we discussed with the TUC and others. One of the great challenges we face is how we address not just the number of people who are unemployed, but the length of time they are unemployed. That is an absolutely key issue, and that is why the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is so focused on doubling the number of work coaches. The hon. Gentleman is quite right to highlight that issue.