Covid-19: Economy - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:55 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Morgan of Cotes Baroness Morgan of Cotes Conservative 2:55 pm, 4th June 2020

My Lords, I have three points to raise. The first is about support for the cultural and creative industries, but that has already been very articulately outlined by noble Lords on all sides during this debate. I look forward to the Minister’s response on that matter. Of course we all want to restore our economy, but our cultural and creative sectors make our lives worth living. They are an important part of restoring our enjoyment in this country as much as of restoring the wider economy.

Secondly, as has already been outlined by noble Lords, a significant amount of debt will be owed by businesses and individuals. However, 9 million people in the UK were already estimated to be overindebted before this crisis started. I hope the Government will think very carefully about the ways in which they will recover debt. I draw noble Lords’ attention to the recent Centre for Social Justice report Collecting Dust, which advocates a debt management Bill. There have also been suggestions for ways in which government can collect its own debt, particularly local government collecting council tax. I think there will be campaigns to make sure that the letters sent to people who owe money under the Consumer Credit Act are reworded not to be overly ambitious in their enforcement.

My third point is on business rates and fiscal events. I praise the Government for their response in supporting jobs and SMEs in particular during this crisis, but the fact that one of the first things that had to be done was to suspend business rates for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses confirms yet again that the business rates system in this country is broken and unaffordable. If we want to build back better as a country, this is the time to look at this system once and for all to make sure that it is reformed so that it is affordable for businesses in future.