For the first time in it’s 700 year history Parliament sat virtually and I was one of the Members to take part in Prime Ministers Question via Zoom.
Dominic Raab was standing in for the Prime Minister and I asked him about support for the British steel industry. I told the Acting Prime Minister that the government must urgently lift the £50m cap on loans to large firms hit by Covid-19. Lifting the loan cap with give this vital industry a fighting chance to survive this crisis, which is crucial because there will be no post-pandemic economic recovery unless we have a strong and healthy Welsh & British steel industry.
Stephen Kinnock: The Port Talbot steelworks is the beating heart of the economy and the community in my Aberavon constituency, and there will be no post-pandemic recovery for our country unless we have a strong and healthy Welsh and British steel industry. The Government’s coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme is capped at £50 million, which is only one tenth of what Tata Steel believes will be the cash-flow impact on the company over a six-month period. Will the Government now urgently take steps to lift the loan cap to a level that will give our steel industry a fighting chance of surviving this crisis?
Dominic Raab: The hon. Gentleman is right to refer to the business interruption loans. We made grants of up to £25,000 available for small businesses. I understand the point he makes about the sector in his constituency. We have made changes to the loan scheme, principally to make it quicker to access, and 12,000 loans have now been approved. I know that the Chancellor is looking carefully at the steel sector in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, and at all those who are not directly benefiting from this particular scheme to ensure that in the round we are providing the measures that we need in a targeted way to support all the different crucial elements of the economy.