, , ,

Chancellor should seek long-term solutions to fire up business recovery, Darren writes for The Times

Ahead of the March budget, Darren urged the Chancellor to address the long-term challenges the British economy faces beyond the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Business Select Committee, that Darren chairs, have published its recommendations for the Spring Budget focusing on fixing the flaws in the Chancellor’s pandemic strategy. The Treasury’s strategy at this stage in the pandemic will set the foundation of the economy that we rebuild in the coming years. Key inequalities have been highlighted in the Chancellor’s current plan, including gaps in support for new mothers and self-employed people, that will have knock-on effects in the years to come.

You can read the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy report here, and read Darren’s article in The Times here. Or read below:

Chancellor should seek long-term solutions to fire up business recovery

The financial support provided to businesses and workers since March 2020 has been unprecedented. However, as we reflect today in the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee’s pre-budget report, alarming gaps in support have arisen which the chancellor has a crucial opportunity to put right next week.

The eligibility criteria for financial support have resulted in discrimination between different types of worker. Self-employed workers were especially discriminated against compared to employed workers. Inequalities continue to be perpetuated, such as ineligibility for recent mothers who have taken parental leave. The chancellor should use this budget to help those workers who have not been supported so far — this is most likely the last chance to help them.

Our report also expresses concern about the long-term prospects for employment in our country. The impact of Covid is just one tectonic plate shifting the British economy, alongside Brexit and the net-zero transition. Retail and hospitality workers have been especially hit, with a disproportionate impact on women and young people. Potential job losses in key industrial sectors, such as automotive manufacturing, also raise significant structural concerns for the British economy and fears about the impact on employment prospects in the communities affected. The government’s recent skills white paper is welcome, but a wider cross-governmental approach to education, training and skills is needed, targeting support to the workers most affected during this pandemic.

In good news, we have welcomed the remarkable ability of businesses and workers to adapt and innovate during the pandemic. Digital transformation has taken place more quickly than we could have hoped. Building on these developments and innovations will be key for our economic recovery. However, many businesses have become saddled with Covid debts during the pandemic and they will need help. As we recommend in our report, the government should consider how best to help businesses invest in their own growth and job creation, and how to deliver improvements to productivity and decarbonisation in this new era of company Covid indebtedness.

Some businesses have been able to succeed during the pandemic, with some deciding to return public funds. Unfortunately, other successful businesses saw access to low-cost government backed finance as a commercial opportunity. We conclude that more transparency is needed about which companies received what public support.

Companies that acted in bad faith, by passing on state-financed dividends to wealthy shareholders or taking the cover of the pandemic to use approaches such as “fire and rehire” in restructuring their businesses, have clearly acted unacceptably. With reforms to company reporting and audit, and the Employment Rights Bill also on the government’s agenda, we should take a broader look at corporate governance and move the dial on what it means to be a good corporate citizen in the UK.

The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change for many workers, businesses and communities in a negative way. High streets across the country have seen a dramatic loss of retail businesses and, sadly, we are likely to see more retailers close their doors — not least because a solution to outstanding commercial rents has yet to be found. At this crucial time, there also seems to be confusion in government over the UK’s industrial strategy and the role the state should play in supporting the economy. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that government action and financial support is targeted effectively — we cannot afford to spend money everywhere, but the costs of not taking any action would be incalculable.

The budget must clearly set out a continuation of financial support measures for businesses and workers in line with continued public health restrictions, but the occasion also serves as a valuable opportunity for the chancellor to reflect on the long-term lessons for our economy. Will the budget set out a vision for Britain in the decade ahead, that understands the reshaping of the British economy now taking place, or will the chancellor stick to short-term announcements which fail to provide the confidence businesses and workers need?

Darren Jones is a Labour MP and chairman of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee

, , , , , ,

Darren hosts Westbury Brexit Briefing

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has hosted the second in a new series of Brexit Briefings.

Following the event in Westbury on Friday 18th October, Darren Jones said:

“Thanks to those constituents that came to the second of my three public Brexit Briefings this evening. I always enjoy asking constituents how they’d vote in different scenarios if they were the local MP – and this event came just at the right time before the historic sitting of Parliament on so-called ‘super Saturday’!

It would be fair to say, most constituents attending this and my other events (as well as those who contact me directly or have completed my Brexit survey) are very supportive of my decision not to support Boris Johnson’s current deal and to push for a people’s vote of whatever final deal is proposed by the government. I know I continue to have my constituent’s support in backing a remain and reform agenda.”

, , , ,

Watch: Darren hosts online Brexit Briefing

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones hosted an online Brexit Briefing on Facebook Live.

Watch Darren’s 40 minute Plain English Briefing online here.

Darren Jones said:

“I hosted this online briefing as it’s vital that I have opportunity to explain what’s going on in Parliament – alongside my three Brexit Briefings in the constituency, I wanted to ensure those who couldn’t come to an event had opportunity to find out what’s happening.

I’ve talked through the votes from so-called ‘super Saturday’ and earlier this week on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the likelihood of a General Election and People’s Vote.”

, , , , , ,

Darren hosts Horfield Brexit Briefing

MP for Bristol North West has hosted the first in a new series of Brexit Briefings.

Following the event in Horfield on 12th October, Darren Jones said:

“Thanks to those constituents that came to the first of my three public Brexit Briefings this afternoon (12th October). I always enjoy asking constituents how they’d vote in different scenarios if they were the local MP!

It would be fair to say, most constituents attending were very supportive of a people’s vote of whatever final deal is proposed by the government with me continuing to back a remain and reform agenda.”

, , , ,

Darren asks constituents to complete Brexit Survey

Prior to the historic sitting of Parliament on Saturday 19th October, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has asked constituents to complete a survey about their views on Brexit.

If you are a constituent of Darren’s (i.e. you live in Bristol North West), you can complete the survey here.

For those who wish to discuss their views face to face or let their MP know their thoughts in their own words, Darren will be holding four Brexit Briefings, including one online on Facebook Live in 23rd October, and has received thousands of emails, campaign postcards and letters.

The results of the Brexit Survey: October 2019 will be released in early November.

, , , ,

Darren warns against dangers of no deal

The Government have been forced by Parliament to publish their central planning assumptions document for a n0-deal Brexit — it includes “lorries facing waits of between 1.5 days and 2.5 days to cross the border,” disruption to medical supplies and shortages of certain kinds of food, and isn’t even the worst-case scenario. The human cost of no deal is enormous, and no responsible government would be pushing ahead with this kind of reckless strategy. We know the dangers, and I’m determined to stop them taking Britain over the precipice.

You can read the original ‘Yellowhammer’ document at the link here

, ,

Darren welcomes Court ruling on prorogation

Commenting on the Scottish appeal court’s verdict that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones said:

Boris Johnson broke the law: that’s the unanimous finding of Scotland’s most senior judges, who this morning ruled that the decision to shutter Parliament was about dodging scrutiny. So far, so obvious — but if their unprecedented judgement that he lied to the Queen in order to do it is upheld by the Supreme Court next week then we shouldn’t mince words: the Prime Minister has to resign.

,

Watch: Darren calls out snap election trap

Reflecting on Boris Johnson’s attempt to force an early election through the House of Commons, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones said:

“I’m all for an election once no-deal has definitively been taken off the table, but to agree to one now would hand Boris Johnson a blank cheque to take Britain over the cliff-edge without a Parliament to stop him. I won’t walk into that trap.”

, , , ,

Darren speaks at Stop the Coup rally in Bristol

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones spoke at the pro-remain and reform ‘stop the coup’ rally held in Bristol on Saturday 31st August.

The rally was called at short notice after the Prime Minister outlined his attempt to prorogue Parliament during September and October in advance of the tabled Brexit day of 31st October 2019. Darren has shared his views on the Prime Minister’s attempt to muzzle Parliament and avoid legitimate debate.

After speaking at the rally, Darren said:

“It was a ‪ privilege to speak at the StopTheCoup rally in Bristol today. As a Member of Parliament in a remain constituency,  it’s my job to be my constituents Voice in Parliament. We won’t be closed down. We won’t let our voices be ignored”. ‬

, ,

Darren joins cross-party push to prevent no-deal

This evening Darren stood with (now ex-)Tory rebels and other Opposition MPs in voting to empower Parliament to take control of the Brexit process and avoid a catastrophic no-deal outcome. The House of Commons voted decisively in favour of allowing debate on a bill which mandates the Prime Minister to seek a further extension if he fails to renegotiate a deal. This is a major setback for Boris Johnson’s undemocratic and reckless Brexit strategy, and a victory for sensible MPs across the political divide — but the fight’s not over yet, and it now seems inevitable that we’ll be plunged into a General Election before too long. Ultimately, it’s clear that the only democratic way to resolve this impasse is by putting Brexit back to the people in a public vote, but thanks to MPs who put the national interest before their careers we’ve taken a decisive step away from the no-deal precipice.