The motion has my full support. We need the Government to do whatever they can to support people through the crisis. I say this with no relish, but the Chancellor’s dithering over whether and how to support people living under local restrictions has put jobs at risk, left workers in limbo and, as we have heard today from many colleagues, created a sense of chaos, fear and concern in the midst of a pandemic.
Over recent months so many people from across Newport West have got in touch about their experiences. I have listened carefully to each of them and made many direct representations to Ministers, some of which remain unanswered. I think of John Atkins, who owns the Events Agency, a business based in Newport West. His business is part of the exhibitions and events sector, which now finds itself on the brink of extinction. John’s business has been closed since March 2020 and unlike other parts of the economy it has not been able to open since.
We need proper financial support for businesses such as John’s. He is part of the creative arts sector and his business will be viable once we have resolved the current crisis. He does not need to retrain, as the Chancellor has suggested, because his business will be back up and running, and he will contribute to the local and national economy by paying taxes and shopping locally. He needs financial assistance now to ensure his business is able to continue in the future.
I think of Sam, who runs the pub in Newport city centre—a pub and social enterprise that employs people, helps those in need of food and contributes to the local economy. Businesses in the hospitality sector such as Sam’s need a Government on their side, not one who walk on by.
I think of Charlie Magness, a wedding photographer living and working in Newport West. Three years ago, she set up her own business and has been reinvesting and building it up ever since. As a result, she is not eligible for the financial support she so desperately requires—another local viable business that will thrive in the future but needs financial support at the moment.
John Lewis is a local electrician who gets his salary through dividends in the limited company he was advised to set up. As a result, he has received no financial support during the pandemic. His is a vital small business giving a great service to the local community that again has had no help, and he has fallen through the financial safety net.
Many of my constituents are hurting and need Ministers to wake up—and wake up fast.