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Covid-19: Effect on Business

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2020

What assessment his Department has made of the effect of tiered covid-19 public health restrictions on businesses’ ability to trade. (910298)

What assessment his Department has made of the effect of tiered covid-19 public health restrictions on businesses’ ability to trade. (910323)

We know that certain areas of the economy have faced enormous challenges this year, and that is why the Government have provided an unprecedented range of support packages to help businesses precisely to continue trading.

Wet pubs in South Shields spent money making themselves covid-secure, only to have an arbitrary curfew imposed on them and then to be forced to close completely, yet there is no evidence at all that they are contributing to the spread of the virus. This was a policy, not a health decision. I heard the Minister’s earlier response, but if the Government really do not want to see our pub doors closed forever, why have they not listened to the requests from the British Beer and Pub Association and uplifted the current grants on offer?

As the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully), has suggested, there is a considerable measure of support for pubs that are suffering at the moment. And as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said, there is a clear medical, epidemiological reason for pursuing the policies that we have done.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the BBPA said that the so-called support for pubs and brewers in the winter plan was met with “utter dismay and incredulity” among publicans. Many hostelry businesses crucial to life in Nottingham and across the country are not going to survive the winter with what is currently on offer. When is the Minister going to come forward with proper support?

I do not recognise what the hon. Gentleman is saying. We are in constant dialogue with the pub industry and many people—publicans—certainly in my constituency, who have spoken to me are grateful for the measure of support. We are in constant dialogue, but they are grateful for the measure of support that has been supplied.