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Wholesale Food Service Sector

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2021

What assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing financial support to wholesale food service sector businesses affected by covid-19 restrictions. (911351)

Throughout the covid crisis, the Government have sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods, and support businesses and public services across the UK. We recognise that food and drink wholesalers have been severely impacted by the necessary action we have taken to control the virus, but those businesses have been eligible for a number of our economic support schemes, including the job retention scheme, VAT deferral and bounce back loans.

Food service wholesalers have again seen their trade drop by 95% with hospitality businesses closing, yet they continue to supply our hospitals, schools, care homes and prisons at a financial loss. Many now are on the brink of collapse. What more are the Government going to do to help the industry, which is suffering a double whammy of lost stock and ongoing fixed costs?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, and, indeed, I met representatives of the sector in my constituency a few weeks ago. The Treasury is in regular discussion with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and they are assessing the systemic risks to the food supply chain of the fulfilment of those public sector contracts to schools, hospitals and prisons. We keep these matters under close review, but at the moment there is no threat to those supply chains and, as I referenced, the options that are available to those firms continue to be available.