Covid-19 Economic Support Package

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:16 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Paul Bristow Paul Bristow Conservative, Peterborough 2:16 pm, 14th October 2020

In my speech in the House yesterday I said that something remarkable happened in my city of Peterborough during the recent lockdown and covid pandemic. We looked after the vulnerable. We ensured that those shielding had food and supplies. We housed and fed our rough sleepers, thanks to restaurants and takeaways. We came together as one city. That made me very proud not only to represent the city but to have grown up there.

Having said that, I do not want to go through that again, but Labour Members would hit poor people in my city with another national lockdown, and it is for them to tell us how many jobs that would cost in Peterborough.

The remarkable resilience of my city is down to its people, but we did not do it alone. The Government protected jobs and businesses and provided the economic security needed to get us through this. They put their money where their mouth is: 15,600 jobs have been protected through the furlough scheme; 4.500 people claimed grants through the self-employment income support scheme; 2,185 bounce back loans were awarded; 70 coronavirus business interruption loans were awarded; and business grants worth more than £22 million were awarded.

What does that mean on the ground? It means that Eve Taylor, a fabulous historic skin and body care products company in Britain, has brought manufacturing capacity back in-house, expanding the business and employing more people. The Bottle & Board bottle shop in central Peterborough has been able to survive during this tough time. My friend Lisa Aldridge owns and runs Loxley Barbers, which had the dubious privilege of giving me my first haircut after lockdown. A bounce back loan has helped it to survive. My friends Billy and Tony Kertolli, who run a carwash in Carr Road, gave free car washes to NHS workers. There are countless further examples—all businesses that my office has helped. These are real people, real jobs and real businesses, and these people are my friends. Peterborough is a small but big city and we depend on one another, and when we needed Government support they were there for us.

The cultural recovery fund has been a lifeline for my city. We needed support and the Government listened. It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the businesses that could not be supported, including those who were moving business premises just before lockdown, sole traders with not enough money and those who paid them through dividends. I wish we could have done more, but this was one of the most generous schemes in the world, and I am pleased that the support will be there for businesses and individuals in Peterborough when we need it.

The job support scheme has been expanded to provide temporary and localised support to businesses whose premises are legally required to close as a direct result of the restrictions. The last thing my city needs are localised restrictions. They are not needed or wanted, as my city has done the right thing and rates are, thankfully, still low. Labour Members would put Peterborough back into national lockdown misery, whatever our successes and whatever our individual circumstances. I am going to make sure that local people in my city know who it is that wants to restrict their freedoms, take their jobs and make their businesses go bankrupt when there is no reason to do so. This is typical Labour, and we are going to make sure that the people of Peterborough know who would put them back into national lockdown misery.