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Covid-19: Business Sectors

Volume 683: debated on Tuesday 10 November 2020

What recent assessment he has made of which business sectors have been most affected by the covid-19 outbreak. (908534)

We know that many areas of the economy face challenges, as we have just heard, especially in sectors that have closed under new national restrictions, such as hospitality. That is why we have extended the coronavirus job retention scheme to March and provided an unprecedented support package to businesses and to workers.

Many working people have been excluded since March. They do not qualify for furlough; they do not qualify for the self-employed scheme; and their businesses do not qualify for the grants. It is no good the Government giving the mantra about universal credit. It will not wash, because most people who have been excluded do not qualify for universal credit. The Government were right to U-turn over the injustice facing hungry children, so when will they fix the growing injustice faced by millions of excluded people in this country who just want to put food on the table for their children?

The Government have put forward a comprehensive package of support, as we heard from the Secretary of State, for both individuals and businesses. The self-employment income support scheme has also been extended. The support package is not only about the welfare system, which has had an additional £9 billion put into it to help people, but about the bounce back loans, the tax deferrals and the rental support, which are all important parts of it, as well as mortgage holidays and other business support grants through local government.

Today’s unemployment figures are a sobering reminder of the scale and pace of the economic crisis now upon us. It is becoming increasingly clear that, despite the Government’s initial early action, their slowness and constant indecision are making the jobs crisis worse. Will they now get ahead of the curve, as France, Germany and Spain have done, not only to protect our key industries such as aerospace and automotive, but to bring forward an ambitious plan for their green renewal at a scale and pace to match the crisis? As we are seeing at Rolls-Royce and elsewhere, once decent jobs go, they are gone for good; and communities across the north and midlands can ill afford to lose them.

The hon. Lady makes an important point about the labour market statistics released this morning. The Government are committed to helping the most vulnerable, as was demonstrated with the £2 billion kickstart scheme for young people, who have in many ways been heavily impacted by the challenge of covid. She will see from this Government a green industrial strategy. As the Secretary of State has already set out—judge us by what we do—36% of the world’s offshore energy is produced by this country, and we will go much further.