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Covid-19: Regional Economic Growth

Volume 678: debated on Thursday 16 July 2020

What steps he is taking to support regional economic growth as part of the recovery from the covid-19 outbreak. (904835)

What steps the Government are taking to ensure equal distribution of Government funding throughout the UK in response to the covid-19 outbreak. (904836)

What steps he is taking to support regional economic growth as part of the recovery from the covid-19 outbreak. (904845)

The Government have taken unprecedented steps to support people and businesses across the country during this period. So far, we have helped 1.1 million employers across the UK through our coronavirus job retention scheme and 2.7 million self-employed individuals, and we have provided £10.5 billion in small business grants. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has set out our vision to double-down on levelling up, unite the country and spread opportunity. As part of that, the plan for jobs announced by the Chancellor supports all regions through upgrades to local infrastructure, with £1 billion of investment for local projects to boost local economic recovery in the places that need it most.

In the light of the Government’s avowed intent to build, build, build our way towards economic recovery, will my right hon. Friend put her full support behind key infrastructure projects in Eddisbury in the north-west, including the roll-out of full-fibre broadband and the construction of the Knights Grange women and girls’ football national centre of excellence, which will bolster Winsford’s jobs and economy for many years to come?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. His constituency is one I know well, as he is my mother’s MP. The Government remain committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. We want to become a world leader in connectivity, increasing the UK’s productivity and competitiveness and boosting the economy in the aftermath of covid-19. I welcome the Cheshire Football Association’s commitment to provide a new world-class facility for women and girls’ football in Cheshire, and I am confident that the pros’ centre will become an excellent sporting asset for the local community.

We have a golden opportunity for much-needed investment in Broxtowe. We have a shovel-ready project: the Toton link road. Toton is the site of the new High Speed 2 east midlands hub. The road would link to houses that we are building in Chetwynd barracks and then on to the A52 and M1. The whole development area will create up to 4,500 new homes, and it is linked to an innovation campus, where we are creating up to 6,000 jobs, many in the high-value area of research and development. Will my right hon. Friend commit to explore this £30 million shovel-ready project, which will support the economic renewal of Broxtowe and help to level up the economy?

I agree with my hon. Friend that shovel-ready projects will play an important part in our economic renewal and the levelling up of the UK. I congratulate him on setting out the case for the Toton link road. I encourage him to work with his local highway authority, so that such schemes are ready to seek funding when suitable opportunities are available following the next fiscal event.

I thank the Minister for her answer. Does she agree that schemes such as the River Thames scheme not only provide flood defences for Runnymede and Weybridge but will be a huge boost for the local economy and our natural environment?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on bringing that issue to the attention of the House. I recognise that the proposed River Thames scheme might have the potential to better protect thousands of homes, contribute to the local economy and increase the social and environmental value of the river. I understand that the Environment Agency has offered to brief him on the progress of the scheme, and I encourage him to take up that offer.

During the pandemic, certain sectors and regions have been disproportionately hit by this economic downturn. In many cases, this is falling on the shoulders of those who are least able to carry it. In Lancashire, 82 businesses have collapsed in May alone and almost 19,000 jobs in the county have been lost during the pandemic. A failure to provide sector-specific, regionally focused support to those most at risk could end up costing many more jobs. What steps are the Government taking to apply a regional lens to this crisis and, in particular, to provide vital investment to counties such as Lancashire?

Mr Speaker, you will know that I know Lancashire very well, having lived there for 15 years myself. We recognise that every region and community will be feeling the impact of covid-19. That is why the Government have introduced unprecedented support for businesses and workers across the country to support them through this economic crisis.