Covid-19: Economic Package Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

Covid-19: Economic Package

Baroness Kramer Excerpts
Wednesday 13th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton
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My Lords, all the details that the noble Lord has asked about are being worked out at the moment. That is why we will not be able to announce the full details until the end of this month. However, as was set out in my right honourable friend’s Statement yesterday, our overriding priority is to protect jobs in this country and to protect businesses. A balance needs to be struck to achieve those two things.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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My Lords, I have just three very quick questions for the Minister. First, will the Self-employment Income Support Scheme also be extended in the same way that the furlough scheme is being extended for those who have been in employment, which is obviously a vital decision? Secondly, in the light of leaked Treasury documents today, will he confirm or deny that the Government are looking at a two-year pay freeze in the public sector to deal with what will be an extremely high deficit, estimated at £337 billion this year? Lastly, he will be aware that alternate funders are finally getting accredited to participate in the Government’s Covid schemes, but many banks are now cornering the market because only they can access cheap money from the Bank of England. Will the Government level the playing field and open up the Bank of England’s term funding scheme to all accredited funders and do so rapidly to limit the damage?

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton
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My Lords, the newly announced Self-employed Income Support Scheme, which opened today, will be kept open as long as it is needed. That is what we have said all along: we will do what is needed. We need to see how successful it is and how many people it gets to. I am not aware of any advanced thinking on a pay freeze on the public sector or any other measures. As my right honourable friend said yesterday, it is too early for us to be looking at these measures. We need to get through this stage of the crisis. On the noble Baroness’s third question, we have been increasing the number of lenders available on all schemes since they opened. I am sure that this will continue.