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Lords Employment and COVID-19 inquiry to take evidence on financing support and retail

Monday 21 September 2020

On Tuesday 22 September 2020, as part of its inquiry on Employment and Covid-19, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will be taking evidence from two panels of witnesses.

These public evidence sessions will have remote participation by witnesses and Committee members. The session will be streamed live on Parliament TV.

The first session will begin at 3pm. Giving evidence will be:

  • Rebecca Lowe, Research Director, Business Growth Fund
  • Claire Walker, Co-Executive Director, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Marcus Scott, Chief Operating Officer, TheCityUK.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include:

  • Which of the COVID-19 loan schemes have been the most effective
  • What trade-offs or risks arise from deferring COVID-19 loan repayments until a business is on secure footing?
  • How would the £15bn state-backed fund that has been proposed by the Business Growth Fund work in practice?
  • Are strategic approaches by Government – such as the proposals for ‘Project Birch’ and ‘Project Defend’ – an effective way to target investment and support?
  • What is the rationale for a state-owned entity – such as the proposed UK Recovery Corporation – recapitalising bad loans?
  • How can viable businesses be helped to recruit new employees for future growth?

The second session will begin at 4pm. Giving evidence will be:

  • Tom Ironside, Director - Business and Regulation, British Retail Consortium
  • Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director, Centre for Retail Research
  • Joanne Cairns, Deputy Head of Research and Economics, USDAW.

Questions the Committee is likely to ask include:

  • What does USDAW’s call for a ‘new deal’ for retail, distribution, and home delivery workers entail in practice?
  • What is the right mix of policy assistance – for instance, between the level of support offered for employment (furlough), demand (Eat Out), and fixed costs (i.e. rent and loans)?
  • Has the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing issues facing the retail sector – such as taxation and business rates?
  • How has the pandemic affected the commercial property landscape across the retail sector?
  • What are the long-term challenges and opportunities facing city centres and high streets if flexible working arrangements become a permanent feature for large proportions of the workforce?

More on this inquiry, Employment and Covid-19

The Committee is looking into the effect of Covid-19 on the labour market and what urgent measures should be taken to protect and create jobs. It will also examine how the labour market may change as a result of the pandemic in the longer term.

Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), Institute of Economic Research (IEA), Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), UK Hospitality, UK Short Term Accommodation Association, and Scottish Tourism Alliance gave evidence to the Committee. The transcripts are available here and you can also watch the session back on Parliament TV.

This inquiry has its own web page.

More on the Economic Affairs Committee

The Economic Affairs Committee is one of the five permanent investigative committees in the House of Lords and is charged with considering economic affairs.

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