This Government’s comprehensive and generous package of support in response to the coronavirus has protected millions of livelihoods and supported hundreds of thousands of businesses up and down the country. Our plan for jobs announced in July will protect, create and support jobs, notably through our recently launched kickstart scheme, as we look to get the UK economy back on its feet.
Scottish Government analysis has revealed that ending the transition period in 2020 could cut £3 billion from the Scottish economy over the next two years—on top of the impact of coronavirus. With the UK Internal Market Bill making the risk of a no-deal Brexit even greater, what reassurances can the Chancellor give to my constituents and the people of Scotland that there will be no real-term spending cuts that will inflict even greater damage on our economy?
The Government and I remain committed to getting a deal and will continue to engage constructively with our European partners in pursuit of that aim. With regard to funding for Scotland, I can tell the hon. Lady that the Scottish Government have received £6.5 billion in advance of it being called for, so that they can provide the support required to their residents.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Manufacturing and exports, especially from the west midlands and the Black Country, will play a key part in driving our recovery. I am pleased to tell him that the Exchequer Secretary is shortly meeting with the Mayor, Andy Street. That comes on top of our plans to provide £1 billion to develop the UK supply chain for electric automotive vehicles over the next five years, and £850 million of allocations from the local growth fund for his region.
The Chancellor will be aware of concerns that the UK risks a slower recovery than comparable economies for self-inflicted reasons. Despite the devastating impact on jobs, the Treasury Front Benchers have yet again today—six times—rejected targeted wage support. Economists are concerned about this Government’s inability to get a grip on the public health crisis, which evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies suggests stems in part from a failure to adequately support people who have to self-isolate. Rumour has it that the Chancellor is blocking attempts to improve sick pay, so I put it to him: can he put himself in the shoes of those low-paid workers who often have to choose between paying their rent and bills, and putting food on the table for their kids? If these workers are advised to self-isolate, they get £95.85 a week—and that is if they are even eligible for statutory sick pay. Surely the Chancellor must agree with the Secretary of State for Health that statutory sick pay is not enough to live on.
From the beginning of this pandemic, we have made changes to the operation of statutory sick pay and our welfare system to ensure that those who are isolating in any circumstance receive support from day one, and that we improve flexibility, particularly for the self-employed, through the removal of the minimum income floor. As the hon. Lady knows, we are also trialling incentive payments in local lockdown areas.
I did not ask the Chancellor about the precise details of delivery and I did not ask about the scope; I asked him about the value of statutory sick pay. He needs to get a grip on this issue. If he fails to do so—and the blockage appears to be his responsibility—then we will see additional localised re-impositions of lockdown, with all the implications that has for jobs and businesses. Please, Chancellor, get a grip on this issue.
There are two other reasons why economists are worried about the UK’s recovery. First, of course, there is concern about our future as a trading nation. Both of the Chancellor’s predecessors warn that the threat to override the withdrawal agreement could damage our country’s reputation and prosperity. Why do those former Chancellors appear to be more concerned about our country’s economic prospects than the current one? The second reason for concern stems from the prospect of premature spending cuts or tax rises. According to the Financial Times, it is politics that could drive the Chancellor towards early tax rises, so will he rule them out for the rest of this year?
The hon. Lady talks about our place as a trading nation. She may have missed the news last week that this country has concluded an enhanced free trade agreement with Japan. I pay enormous tribute to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade for concluding a deal that will be better for British businesses, particularly in the areas of the economy we do so well on such as digital and services. It will protect more of our great agricultural produce, open up more markets for our businesses to sell to and reduce prices for British shoppers. That is what the future of global Britain looks like.
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point and I thank her for it. She will know that some of the interventions we have already put in place last through into next year, for example the removal of the need to pay business rates for businesses in hospitality, which has been particularly affected. She may be reassured to know that we recently introduced the new business support grant for businesses forced to close as a result of local lockdown, where the Joint Biosecurity Centre gold command has instituted that measure, and those grant payments will be available up to £1,500 per few weekly cycles.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the importance of the aerospace industry to our economy. It is, in common with aerospace industries across the globe, suffering a deep depression in demand for all the obvious reasons. He can rest assured that we engage regularly with the companies in that sector. In particular, to support their future success, we are investing heavily in R&D alongside those companies to make sure we remain on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing capability.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the importance of good childcare and he is right to highlight that the Government support people with 20% of their childcare costs up to a cap of £2,000 through tax-free childcare. I can also tell him that, in recognition of the importance of this issue, we made some adjustments to how tax-free childcare operated during the pandemic, so that if someone’s income fell below the minimum income requirement as a result of what was happening they would continue to receive financial support up until the end of October.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the disproportionate economic impact that this crisis will have on young people. I have spoken about that from the Dispatch Box before, and he is right that we should focus our attention on them. That is why, in our plan for jobs, we outlined the kickstart scheme, which will initially make available fully-funded Government job placements for a quarter of a million young people at risk of long-term unemployment. I am confident that many young people in his constituency, like all of ours, can benefit from that scheme, and I urge him to work with his local businesses to get them signed up to the scheme and take on a young kickstarter.
My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the particular impact on that sector. It is something we are engaging on closely with it, and I am very happy to continue to have dialogue with my hon. Friend on the issue.
I think my right hon. Friend addressed this in his reply to the shadow Chancellor. The key issue is to look at the package of measures the Government are putting in place. First and foremost among those is retaining people’s link to employment. That is the most important issue. Alongside that, the measures on welfare, including support for businesses that are in lockdown, are part of the comprehensive response, and statutory sick pay is one of a suite of measures.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is the underlying principle behind furlough—to enable the labour market to bounce back, with jobs in businesses that were viable before the pandemic being able to recover quickly. It is also part of the three-phase strategy that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor has set out. The second phase is to concentrate on skills to create jobs, protect jobs and support jobs, and to enable those workers to come back into the economy and for the economy therefore to recover quicker.
The hon. Gentleman is right to raise ARM, which is obviously a key employer in his constituency. The Government are taking a very close interest in this transaction. It was pleasing to see yesterday that parties close to the transaction said that the headquarters would remain in Cambridge. It is a matter we are engaging very closely on, and I am very happy to engage with him personally on any questions arising from that.
My hon. Friend is right to raise this point, which he has raised before. In his constituency, 1,400 businesses have benefited from the bounce back loans from 28 providers across the country, but I am happy to engage with him in relation to the number of cases he has dealt with and see what interventions can be made at this time.
It is right that companies pay the tax that they owe the Exchequer so that we can fund the public services that all our constituents rely on. That is why this Government instituted the digital services tax for online companies, which came into force this year. We remain committed to that tax, although we work with our partners around the world to replace our unilateral one with a multilateral solution through the OECD that will properly tackle this issue once and for all.
The Government have a range of schemes that have been supporting businesses throughout the pandemic, as my colleagues have mentioned time and time again. If my hon. Friend has specific requests from the businesses in his constituency, I am very happy to discuss those with him so that we can work out the best way to continue to spur economic recovery.
We have been looking at this relief for several years now, and the changes that we have made are going to benefit the vast majority of brewers. The smallest brewers will be exempt from most of the changes, and those brewers who have been unable to grow will now be able to do so. We had a long consultation and quite a few brewery groups have been very supportive of this change. We will have further announcements to come after the next technical consultation on this relief.