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Regional Equality

Volume 686: debated on Thursday 17 December 2020

It is just over a year since the general election and this Government are as committed to regional equality and creating economic opportunity as we were last December. In the face of covid-19, the Government have taken unprecedented fiscal action to support all regions and nations of the UK through the crisis, working to ensure that we protect jobs and businesses, minimise damage to the economy and deliver the right support as needed.

The Calder Valley has more than 19% of its workforce in the manufacturing sector and a further 26% in the financial sector. Both sectors have been hard hit by the pandemic. Can my hon. Friend say what steps the Government have taken to boost employment in the Calder Valley and in West Yorkshire, particularly as we emerge from the shadow of the pandemic?

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for his question on the importance of employment in the Calder Valley. I am sure that he will be pleased to learn that the Conservative party will be personally boosting employment in West Yorkshire when we open our new headquarters in Leeds next year. More broadly, the Government have announced unprecedented support across the whole of Britain to help unemployed people find a job, including the £2 billion kickstart scheme for young people and the £2.9 billion restart programme to help those unemployed for more than a year. We are doubling the number of work coaches.

High Peak has a covid case rate lower than the national average yet is in tier 3. This is having a very severe effect on our local hospitality industry, which is so central to our economy. Can the Minister assure me that she is working with colleagues across Government to provide all necessary support to those businesses and to work to get High Peak out of tier 3 as fast as possible?

My hon. Friend is a very strong voice for his constituents in High Peak. Tier 3 restrictions were introduced based on evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies about what was required to bring the R rate below 1 in a targeted way, thereby bringing transmission under control and reducing pressures on the NHS. Local authorities under tier 3 measures such as those in High Peak also receive additional funding for local public health initiatives to help to contain the spread of the virus and pave the way for local restrictions to be eased.