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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Before the pandemic, pubs and hospitality employed more than 3 million people, which is 11% of UK employment, and contributed 7% of national GDP. Since the outbreak, three quarters of sites have been closed, 2.8 million people have been furloughed and 400,000 more could not be furloughed.
The Government have already done much to support businesses and pubs, through hospitality grants, discretionary payments and business rate holidays. Those measures have been vital in allowing businesses and jobs to survive this far, but hospitality will need further support as it rebuilds. That is particularly true for industries that depend on hospitality but have not qualified for grants and business rate holidays, such as breweries, and those in related sectors such as events, festivals, theatres and music venues.
To thrive post-covid, we need a successful and growing economy. That means consumers and businesses having confidence to spend and invest. Dudley South and the west midlands are rightly famous for world-beating advanced manufacturing and engineering, but we also have great businesses, large and small, innovating in creative industries, construction and technological solutions for a green economy. They must play a central role in rebuilding our economy, and the Government can help. Ministers will, by now, be familiar with the excellent recovery plan for the west midlands drawn up by our fabulous Mayor, Andy Street. His “Repowering the Black Country” programme comes with a relatively modest price tag of £30 million and is a very sound investment. The Black Country is one of seven clusters working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy industrial cluster decarbonisation programme. Investing now will deliver accelerated green growth, by creating 2,550 jobs and safeguarding a further 2,200. It will re-shore manufacturing jobs and ensure that £14.8 billion in gross value added growth over 10 years is clean, net-zero carbon. It will unlock £400 million of private sector funding, creating the world’s first zero-carbon industrial cluster by 2030. Black Country firms are working hard to recover after covid-19, to protect jobs and to generate the prosperity that my constituents rely on. Coronavirus is, above all, a public health crisis. We must do all we can to prevent that human tragedy being followed by a prolonged and deep crash that would limit people’s life chances for years to come.