The Government have moved swiftly to support businesses, establishing the Carillion taskforce to ensure the co-ordination of support for firms affected by Carillion’s insolvency. This has included extra support from the banks of nearly £1 billion; British Business Bank support to the tune of £100 million; and work with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to ensure firms have advice and guidance through the business payment support service.
Since my last question about Carillion, 239 jobs have now been lost in Wolverhampton, which is a huge loss to our city. The Express & Star, a local newspaper in Wolverhampton, has said that hundreds of suppliers and subcontractors will be left unpaid, which means more job losses. How does the Department plan to provide support for those businesses and their workers?
The Government recognise that there will be an impact on the supply chain and on lots of small businesses that supplied Carillion. That is why we acted quickly to ensure that the banks were aware of those situations and the pressures that would be put on those businesses, to make sure the support was in place, with access to loans and finance, to ensure that we limit the impact as much as is possible. The hon. Lady will know that, so far, 11,450 jobs have been protected in the Carillion network, and we are doing more to ensure that we protect the rest.
The Minister will be aware that Carillion regularly contravened the prompt payment code without actually acting illegally. Is it not time to examine the possibility of giving the code a statutory basis, so that in future cases there could be prosecutions?
The hon. Gentleman makes a very valid point. We want the prompt payment code to be fit for purpose and for it to do what it says on the tin. That is why I am in discussions on the prompt payment code and why the Chancellor said in the spring statement that we would consult on late payments. He wanted to end the scourge of late payments, because this is so important for small businesses up and down the country.