Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 pm on 14th October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative, Grantham and Stamford 1:55 pm, 14th October 2020

It is a great pleasure to speak in this debate. It is right that we have this debate and that across the House we talk about our national economy. It also gives me a great opportunity to thank the Chancellor on behalf of thousands of Grantham and Stamford constituents for the colossal support we have received. Some 16,000 of my constituents were furloughed, 99 of my large businesses received coronavirus business interruption loans worth £33 million and 1,527 small businesses received bounce back loans worth £44 million. We had £23 million of grants and, just last week, we received £230,000 of cultural funding, so I thank the Chancellor on behalf of literally thousands of my constituents.

There was a £200 billion package of support, which was unprecedented and globally competitive, and we must be mindful of our public finances. In the first five months of this tax year, our tax receipts were down 35%. At the same time, our debt-to-GDP ratio is the highest since 1963. That is a potent combination, which must be a sobering fact for everybody across this House, regardless of party politics. Therefore, it is right that we have a job support scheme that targets support to those who are facing depressed demand.

I encourage the Chancellor to continue with his £30 billion plan for jobs that will see the creation of green jobs through the green homes grant and new jobs for young people through the kickstart scheme. I encourage him to double-down and continue with that package of support.

I also encourage the Chancellor to focus on economic growth. That is what ultimately will benefit all of our country. There are three aspects to that for me. The first is to release businesses from the burdens they have had for so many years. We saw the success of the Chancellor’s policy to reduce VAT on hospitality businesses. We saw how well received the VAT tax deferrals were by the CBI. I encourage the Chancellor to look at regulations to ensure that we manage our national regulatory budget to ensure that any new regulation meets robust cost-benefit analyses.

The second thing I highlight is the mobilisation of private investment capital. The future fund—it is not spoken about in this place enough—is one of the truly innovative policies of this Chancellor and this Government. It directly intervened and supported pre-revenue, pre-profit businesses. We are the start-up capital of Europe, and this Chancellor and this Government supported those start-up entrepreneurs. The key aspect of that policy was the fact that it mobilised private capital. We shared the risk with private finance. They brought efficiency to those investments, and I again urge the Chancellor to look at initiatives such as a British development bank, which would help mobilise more private capital for infrastructure investments in the future.

Finally, the issue of productivity has been pervasive throughout the decades. Whichever Government are in power, productivity has been weak compared with our international competitors. Infrastructure investment is critical to this, but so, too, are skills. I warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s efforts and his announcement around the lifetime skills guarantee. This will help constituents such as mine in Grantham, Stamford and Bourne and in all our villages to get the skills they need for the jobs of the future. I warmly applaud the efforts of this Government to date, and I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to lay that out.