16 June 2020
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions

Nadhim Zahawi answers MPs’ questions to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Nadhim Zahawi MP at the Dispatch Box, BEIS Questions, 16 Jun 2020

Rural Areas and Market Towns: Support for Businesses

Chris Loder (West Dorset) (Con)

What steps he is taking to support the recovery of businesses in (a) rural areas and (b) market towns during the covid-19 outbreak. [903259]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Nadhim Zahawi)

Our thoughts are indeed with our colleague who was murdered, Jo Cox, and also with the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Amy Callaghan); we wish her a safe return to this House.

We have introduced an unprecedented package of support for businesses across the country to get through this incredibly challenging period. More than £10 billion in grants—grants—has been paid to over 830,000 businesses of all sizes, including £100 million to over 8,000 businesses in Dorset. I want to thank the local leadership there for delivering that. This has explicitly been targeted at those in receipt of rural rate relief, as well as small business rate relief.

Chris Loder

Market towns in West Dorset such as Lyme Regis, Sherborne and Dorchester are thinking ahead, and I am supporting them to look at innovations to boost the local economy following coronavirus. These include virtual high streets and collaborating to improve accessibility of local brands to those who may not be able to get to the town. Will the Minister meet me to look at these concepts and determine how we can support these initiatives going forward?

Nadhim Zahawi

I know better than most, with Shipston-on-Stour, Alcester and Bidford—very important market towns—in my constituency, that it is more important than ever at this time to support businesses to adopt innovative business models. I would of course be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss those approaches to reopening our economy in West Dorset and the lessons that this may hold for the rest of the country as well.



Manufacturing Sector: Covid-19

Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) (Lab)

What support he is providing to the manufacturing sector during the covid-19 outbreak. [903273]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Nadhim Zahawi)

We are committed to ongoing engagement with industry to ensure that our manufacturers have the support that they need. That includes a roundtable that I am holding tomorrow for north-east businesses, which the hon. Gentleman will be interested in. Our support for the industry includes the unprecedented £330 billion package of business continuity support.

Ian Lavery [V]

I send my condolences to the family of my dear friend and colleague Jo Cox.

UK workers are much more vulnerable to redundancy than French and German workers because the UK Government have announced that they are already winding down their job retention scheme. That is not my view, but the view expressed this weekend by the chief executive of leading aerospace manufacturer Airbus. In France and Germany, the subsidy schemes are set to last for up to two years. Does the Minister not agree that UK workers deserve at least the same job protections and guarantees as have been introduced in other countries? What more can be done to save these vital UK jobs?

Nadhim Zahawi

The hon. Member mentions the aerospace sector, into which the Government have put around £6.5 billion between the Bank of England corporate finance scheme and UK Export Finance, with an additional half a billion pounds of support. We have also put £3.4 billion into the growth deal across the northern powerhouse, with almost £380 million of that going to the north-east local enterprise partnership area, including his constituency of Wansbeck, which is benefiting from that to the tune of around £2.25 million in a science, technology, engineering and maths building at Northumberland College’s Ashington campus. A lot of work is going into this unprecedented package, but we continue to review all our interventions to make sure that UK workers get the benefit of a dynamic recovery.