Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:50 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer 12:50 pm, 14th October 2020

I will make a little progress, if my hon. Friend does not mind.

We need to find out from the Government why they have not used the £1.3 billion underspend from the grants programme, which was already allocated as business support, for local areas to direct at businesses that need that help. Yesterday, the Chief Secretary said that the money was not available for use now because, in his words, “the need” had been “met”. That beggars belief. The need clearly has not been met. The Government should reallocate that funding on a consistent basis, so that businesses in the hardest-hit areas can get support.

What possible justification can there be for local areas getting control of test, trace and isolate only once they are into tier 3 and thus facing rapidly rising infection rates? As the debate following this one will indicate, the Government have poured vast amounts of public money into private contracts to deliver a system that is simply not working. Labour-run Wales has shown how locally delivered tracing is vastly more effective than a contracted-out system. When will the Chancellor’s Government stop dithering, follow the evidence and get a grip on test, track and trace?