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 am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. I believe that, actually, the contact rate is radically higher—above 90%, which is very significantly different. We are in a peculiar situation where our Government appear to believe that it only makes sense for local areas to get those powers, and the resources necessary to deliver them, once infections are already at an extremely high rate—once they are in tier 3. I find this very peculiar. Perhaps the Chancellor can explain why that support is only provided once local areas are at a high infection level.

Adequate support must be provided to those at the sharpest end of this crisis—those working in businesses that have been closed for public health reasons. The expansion of the job support scheme to closed businesses acknowledges an obvious gap in the original scheme. The Government maintain that, with their changes to universal credit, the lowest-paid workers will receive up to 88% of their previous income, but that ignores the continuing problems that the Government refuse to fix with universal credit and allied areas of policy. Why have they still not uprated the local housing allowance to median market rents so that affected people can cover their housing costs? Why will they not extend the ban on evictions? Why have they retained the benefit cap, now affecting twice as many people as at the start of this crisis? Why have they not abolished the two-child limit on universal credit and tax credits? Will the Government follow the previous Labour Government and reduce the waiting period for support from the mortgage interest scheme?

The list of questions goes on and on. It includes really significant ones about firms that have not been legally required to close but whose business has been heavily impacted by the imposition of new restrictions, so they will struggle to keep staff on for even a third of their hours. For those firms, the Chancellor’s job support scheme too often fails to incentivise businesses to bring back more staff part-time, instead of keeping some full-time and letting others go.