Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:12 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak The Chancellor of the Exchequer 1:12 pm, 14th October 2020

It is the same type of support—support provided to the local authority to help their businesses. That was the question the hon. Lady asked my hon. Friend Neil O’Brien, and I am happy to answer it.

The third part of our plan is to provide additional funding for local authorities. Again, I am happy to correct what may be a misunderstanding of the situation for the hon. Member for Oxford East. It is not the case that that support is only for local authorities in tier 3. There is a scaled structure. All local authorities placed into different tiers will receive extra financial support on a per capita basis, using the funding formula that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary is implementing. That funding will be worth up to almost half a billion pounds on a national basis, to support local areas and their public health teams with their local response, whether that is more enforcement, compliance or contact tracing. That comes on top of the almost £1 billion announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that we will provide to all local authorities, as we talk to them about their needs over this difficult period, to ensure that they can provide the services they need to. That also comes on top of the £3.7 billion already provided to local authorities.

This Government are dealing with the world as it is. While the hon. Member for Oxford East may not wish to confront that reality, I do not have that luxury. We cannot just let the virus take hold, but nor can we blithely fall into another national spring-style lockdown, as the Labour party wants to, rather than following our regional, tiered and localised approach. We are dealing with a once-in-a-century event, and I can assure Members on both sides of the House that the Government are doing all they can to support the country through this crisis.

We need a balanced approach, we need a consistent approach, and—as you will have seen, Mr Speaker—we also want a co-operative approach. But any responsible party calling for a shutdown of our entire country should be honest about the potential economic and social costs of such a dramatic measure. At the very least, they should have the integrity to acknowledge that what they are proposing will cause significant damage to people’s lives and livelihoods. I have never said that there are easy choices or cost-free answers. This is the reality we face, and it would be dishonest to ignore that truth. So no more political games and cheap shots from the sidelines. The Labour party can either be part of this solution or part of the problem. It is called leadership, but from them, I am not holding my breath.