I am quite surprised by the hon. Lady’s question, as the Government have extended the coronavirus job retention scheme to the end of March. It continues to protect millions of employees across the United Kingdom and has supported over 400,000 jobs in Wales, and in fact 700,000 in Scotland, too.
I did welcome and continue to welcome the fact that the job retention scheme has been extended until March, but in fact we would ask that it is extended until June 2021, as that would give businesses sufficient time to plan and to be able to build, considering that we will also come to the end of the transition period. Does the Secretary of State also recognise the need to extend furlough and support to those small companies that so far have had nothing and the self-employed who have been excluded from all support?
We have to be serious about this, and it seems to me odd that each time we extend the scheme, we are asked to extend it even further. I think that if we extended it to 2050, the hon. Lady would be saying that 2051 would be a more appropriate date. The fact is that the Chancellor has attempted to be as flexible, versatile and dynamic as possible, and hundreds of thousands of people’s jobs have been saved as a result of that flexibility.