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Ministers from the Treasury questioned on employment support

19 March 2020


Following the Chancellor's announcement of a loan scheme for businesses affected by coronavirus, Greg Clark MP asked ministers from the Treasury about proposals for employment support.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that businesses who are forced to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic would be eligible for Government-backed, guaranteed loans.

Today, Greg Clark MP asked an urgent question on the Chancellor's decision to offer loans to businesses who are struggling to survive.

John Glen: "whatever it takes"

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, told the House that the Government would do "whatever it takes" to protect people and business during the pandemic.

The Minister said that he had been working with the Chancellor and banks, who he said were aware of their "responsibility to make these work". Mr Glen said that the loans meant any business who needed money to pay salaries would be able to access the loans "on attractive terms".   

He said that the Chancellor was planning to go "much further" to support people, noting that Mr Sunak had met with unions such as the TUC to "look at further step" to protect people's incomes. He said these would be announced "in due course".

The Minister said:

"Ministers are working flat-out, 24-7, to look at all the options."

Greg Clark: "not enough"

Responding to the Minister, Greg Clark MP, said that the loan scheme announced on Tuesday was "not enough" to prevent businesses from laying off staff.

Mr Clark said the businesses had "no idea" when they could pay back their debts. He said that the loans "provide no reason" to keep staff employed, and actually disincentive employers from doing that, as their debts will then be higher.

The MP said that to tackle this, PAYE paid by firms to the Government should "be reversed, with the nation paying the wages of people for the next few weeks" if they continue to employ their staff.

He concluded:

"The Chancellor said that he would do "whatever it takes" and do so urgently. He needs to make good on that, without delay, now."

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