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People on Low Incomes: Covid-19

Volume 682: debated on Tuesday 20 October 2020

The Government have provided significant support to those on low incomes. We have introduced additional support through the welfare system, estimated by the OBR to be worth more than £9 billion this year, including increasing universal credit and working tax credit by £20 per week, as well as £500 million of local authority hardship funding and £500 payments for those in low income households who have to self-isolate.

Over the weekend, I visited numerous businesses in Horbury, such as the Green Berry and the Black Olive delicatessen. Mr Speaker, they form a fantastic independent retail offering, and perhaps on your next visit to Wakefield to witness Trinity prevail over your club, a little retail therapy could be a soothing balm before your long journey home across the Pennines. But failing your patronage, Mr Speaker, business owners there have told me that the imposition of tier 2 measures has sapped consumer confidence, which is the oil with which the economy is greased. Will my hon. Friend the Minister confirm that he will use all his creativity to focus HMT strategy on stimulating confidence in the consumer economy to support these businesses, and to consider tax reform, should it be conducive to those aims?

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the support that we have put in place, but also to the challenges that remain. In his own constituency, 14,500 have benefited from the furlough scheme, £28.4 million of business grants have been made available, and £20.3 million of business rates relief has been provided. Looking to the future, I can assure him that all Treasury Ministers will be using rigorous analysis and thinking as we work with the Chancellor as we approach the next Budget.