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Covid-19: Support for Businesses

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 23 March 2021

We have spent over £352 billion, and have committed £407 billion to an unprecedented package of support for businesses, including the job retention scheme, support grants and Government-backed loans. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer recently presented to Parliament his Budget, which sets out the additional £65 billion to support people and businesses.

I very much welcome the restart grants and the sector-specific guidance for weddings as we cautiously reopen the economy. Will the ministerial team please keep updating the guidance on reopening for the hospitality and retail sectors, so that businesses can successfully reopen in a covid-safe way?

I thank my hon. Friend for his ongoing support and for championing businesses, including in the hospitality and wedding sector. We will continue to ensure as best we can that the guidance is available in time for businesses to plan and to give them the certainty they need.

Many councils, including my own in Bury, retain millions of pounds of additional restrictions grant moneys in their bank accounts, rather than distributing this crucial financial support to businesses in need. What steps can my hon. Friend take to ensure that these moneys are used to support businesses now?

I thank my hon. Friend for all the work that he does for his local businesses. At the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced £425 million of additional restrictions grant funding to local authorities, which means that more than £2 billion has been made available to local authorities since November 2020. The Government will continue to work closely with local authorities to ensure that these grants are distributed to businesses when they need them and that the additional money can be used. I urge authorities to relook at their local policies to include businesses that have not had that support in the past.

The UK furniture industry is a success story, with nearly £17 billion of annual consumer expenditure, over 330,000 jobs and exports that had grown to more than £1 billion a year before the pandemic. My constituency of Dewsbury is the UK’s third largest furniture manufacturing base and it faces a number of challenges, including a potential global shortage of steel and foam, and issues relating to rules of origin. Will the Minister agree to meet the British Furniture Confederation to address these concerns and help to ensure that the industry continues to thrive?

My hon. Friend, having worked in the sector, is an excellent champion for it. I understand that these remain extremely challenging times for the furniture industry, which particularly relies on retail premises to sell its products. I speak to the British Furniture Confederation on a regular basis as part of my roundtables, but I am always happy to meet my hon. Friend and the confederation itself.