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Supporting People back into Work

Volume 680: debated on Wednesday 16 September 2020

By the end of July, more than 400,000 Welsh jobs had been supported by the coronavirus job retention scheme, while £295 million has been provided to support 110,000 self-employed people. Since the start of March, that is at least 510,000 people in Wales who have been supported directly by the UK Government.

More than 77,000 meals were enjoyed in Brecon and Radnorshire as part of the eat out to help out scheme created by the UK Treasury. This provided a very welcome boost to the hospitality and tourism sectors in my constituency, which I particularly welcome as those sectors largely employ more women than men. Will my right hon. Friend join me in encouraging the Welsh Government to do their part by creating a similar scheme and getting more women back into the workplace?

My hon. Friend makes a really good point. Having visited her constituency twice, I think, in the recent past, I know just how much she has done to promote these schemes. Another value of the eat out to help out scheme is to remind everybody, whether members of the public or, for that matter, Members of this House, of the importance of supporting local businesses in every possible way we can as we climb out of these horrible few months. The work that my hon. Friend has done, and that of the Treasury, has been a pretty good start.

A key element in supporting people back into work is access to high-speed broadband, particularly in rural areas. Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the first broadband USO—universal service obligation—connection in Wales, which was launched last week in Tregeiriog in the Ceiriog valley in my constituency as part of the Government’s across-the-UK USO scheme to improve broadband where it is currently running at a low level?

My hon. Friend is a solid champion of that cause. Some 3,500 premises in Clwyd South and over 200,000 in Wales have access to full fibre connection, but, as he says, this is only the start. For those businesses and individuals who really need high-quality broadband to operate, the clock is ticking in their favour. This will help jobs, families and prosperity in Wales.