The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee publishes the Government’s response to the Committee’s pre-Budget report on the impact of Coronavirus on businesses and workers (which was published on 26 February 2021).

The Government’s response covers areas such as furlough and income support schemes, restart grants and business support, longer-term strategies to support recovery, and conditionality and corporate behaviour.

Chair’s comment

Commenting on the Government response, Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said:

“Accumulated commercial rent arrears and the fear of the fallout when the moratorium ends is a major issue for many ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses, not least those in retail and hospitality, as well a concern for the landlords themselves. In its response to our report, the Government says it is ready to intervene – Ministers need to intervene now and work with businesses, landlords, banks and other stakeholders to find a sustainable long-term solution before our high streets face further closures.

“The Government has spoken of guaranteeing workers’ rights, curtailing the exploitation of gig-economy workers, and tackling insecure work. Yet a new Employment Bill was nowhere to be seen in last week’s Queen’s Speech. The Plan for Growth and the jobs, skills and training programmes outlined so far are welcome, but their ambition does not match the scale of what is needed and the unemployment challenges we face in our country as we recover from the pandemic.”

Background – BEIS Committee pre-Budget report, 26 February 2021

The BEIS Committee’s interim report, published ahead of the Budget, called for the Government to address gaps in financial support, affecting the self-employed, mothers who have recently taken maternity leave, and those working in sectors such as the creative industries. The Committee’s report commended the Government for moving quickly at the start of the pandemic to implement wide-ranging and unprecedented financial support schemes but also found the Government had not used the opportunity to identify long-term solutions, including on the outstanding issue of commercial rent arrears.

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