Expand COVID-19 Grant Scheme

Sir Charles Walker calls for help for businesses excluded from COVID-19 support such as exhibition industry and businesses who rates are included in their rent.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for bringing us back here today; you have put a huge amount of effort into that, and I really do thank you for it.

May I also thank those hundreds, if not thousands, of my constituents who go to work every day to make my life and the lives of my neighbours and those I represent a little easier? These people are doing a truly terrific thing and they deserve all of our congratulations wherever they are doing it.

May I ask the Leader of the House, as he is a Cabinet Minister, whether we can look at the retail, hospitality and leisure sector grant and its scope? A number of businesses are excluded from it. I am thinking particularly of those in the exhibition industry who have seen their entire business evaporate; they will be the first into this recession and, I suspect, the last out.

May we also look at the small business grant? A number of businesses are excluded from this grant because their rates are bundled up with their rent and paid to their landlord. Many of these are concessions or very small cafes or businesses and they are missing out on the £10,000. I hope the Leader of the House can convey that to the Chancellor.

All of us who are constituency MPs as well as Ministers are aware of these issues being raised by our constituents. My hon. Friend’s point about rates rolled up in rents is an obvious and important one. Treasury questions are not taking place until 18 May, but of course there is the Prime Minister, and Prime Minister’s questions are to the First Lord of the Treasury. I am sure that the First Secretary of State will be able to answer my hon. Friend’s questions on these matters. In the meantime I will take them up with the Chancellor on his behalf.

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