Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of James Daly James Daly Conservative, Bury North 5:45 pm, 12th January 2021

May I put on the record my thanks to Will Blandamer, Lesley Jones, Jeff Schryer and the whole team in Bury for the roll-out, at high speed, of the vaccine? We are confident that the four priority groups will be vaccinated by February, and that is a great achievement. It is a true community effort, and they have the thanks of all of us in our community. Our excellent Vaccine Deployment Minister confirmed to me in a meeting yesterday that the Pfizer vaccine gives 91% protection after the first dose, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine gives 80% protection after the first dose but 100% protection against severe infection.

In the time that I have, I would like to talk about how we remove the restrictions that are blighting our businesses and impacting our daily lives. The hospitality sector has gone through hell during this pandemic, and we need to take all necessary steps to continue the economic support that is needed and to remove restrictions on that sector at the earliest opportunity.

The financial steps that we need to take include extending the business rates holiday for pubs to the financial year 2021-22, and extending the VAT cut beyond 31 March 2021 and expanding it to cover alcoholic drinks. We must never forget the thousands of pounds that hospitality sector businesses have spent creating covid-secure environments. In my area, there is virtually no evidence of widescale transmission of covid in those settings. With the vaccinations that I talked about being rolled out in February, we must look to reopen those facilities at the earliest opportunity, and certainly before May.

I also ask the Chancellor, as part of his considerations leading up to the Budget, to consider support for small businesses, which have to power our economic recovery. We have provided substantial support—over £260 billion—for our economy, but some businesses do not have the support they need. Small business people in my constituency who have been paid quite legally in dividends and fall under the threshold for the self-employment schemes need help. I urge the Government and the Chancellor to take every opportunity to provide further financial support to protect thousands of jobs, not only in the hospitality sector but in those small businesses that my constituents and many others throughout the country have spent their lives building up. They need our help now.