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Economic Recovery

Volume 676: debated on Monday 11 May 2020

The Department for Work and Pensions is leading a joined-up approach across and beyond Government to address the unprecedented impacts of the covid-19 outbreak. This includes working with colleagues across Whitehall as well as employer representatives, think-tanks and others.

I thank my hon. Friend for her response. The black country still remains the workshop of the United Kingdom, and nowhere exemplifies that more than the communities that I represent in Wednesbury, Oldbury and Tipton. It is likely that many skilled workers in my constituency will need to be redeployed or reskilled as a result of this crisis, so what work will my hon. Friend be undertaking, alongside our west midlands Mayor, Andy Street, to ensure that communities such as mine are not left behind as a result of this crisis?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. My Department works closely with Mayors such as Andy Street on the devolution in skills deals. In the west midlands, we are also working with the combined authority on its local industrial strategy, skills advisory panel and innovation pilots. We are engaged with regional labour market issues and pressure points so that all regions and communities can benefit from the recovery.

Our economic recovery will depend much on public confidence, yet polling this morning found that almost half the population believe that the Prime Minister has gone too far. Many have deep concerns that they could put themselves and family members at risk if they cannot properly social distance when they return to work, and it is clear that the workforce and management must agree safe arrangements that people will trust. Will the Government adopt the TUC’s proposals for employers to publish covid-secure risk assessments and urgently increase funding for the Health and Safety Executive, which the Minister knows has been cut by a third since 2010, to enforce these measures?

I thank the hon. Lady and welcome her to her place. I am very interested to hear her policy priorities, ideas, thoughts and views, and I am keen to meet to discuss what the Department for Work and Pensions is doing. It is absolutely right that, as people look to return to work, we have published our plan—a cautious road map—this afternoon. We recognise that this is not a short-term crisis. I can tell her that our Secretary of State has been engaged in broader support for the HSE, which has done a magnificent job—

Order. Too long, Minister, far too long. We have to get through to the questions to the Secretary of State, which are coming further on in the order. Claire Coutinho is waiting with her substantive question. Can you please answer it?