Covid-19: Economy - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:01 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Haskel Lord Haskel Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 3:01 pm, 4th June 2020

Noble Lords are right: the pandemic has clearly shown how the economy does not work for everyone and lacks resilience. Take the resilience of care homes. The largest group has a complex offshore ownership that receives excessive related-party payments, resulting in a debt level of £56,000 per resident. With the declining occupancy due to excess deaths, they are looking for rescue. Empty beds do not pay interest.

Similarly, as a result of non-payments and their excessive debt, some cut-price electricity suppliers have raised the possibility of groups of customers being cut off unless the regulator steps in with money. Their lack of resilience is a danger to us all.

I do not know what the Government are going to do, but as a condition will they introduce and accelerate a new industrial strategy to help deal with this—one based on purpose? I put it to the Minister that the Government would be pushing at an open door. Before the pandemic this idea was well developed, with institutions as diverse as BlackRock and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum calling for it. We need a purpose that calls on companies to behave responsibly in employment, investment, risk, environment, taxation, training and research.

Will the Government use this opportunity to remove the risks I spoke of and stimulate a more purposeful economy that would create the fairer and more equal economy that many noble Lords have called for?