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Darren urges Government to avoid another Arcadia/Debenhams collapse

Following Arcadia entering administration and putting thousands of jobs at risk, Darren called on the Government to urgently support the retail sector, including retail supply chains.

Darren wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Alok Sharma, asking the Government to outline their plan to support large retail businesses and their complex supply chain of smaller and independent businesses. The collapse of large retailers like Debenhams has a devastating effect on local communities and both the people directly employed by the stores and those within its supply chain network.

Darren asked Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, to do more to support the small businesses caught in the storm of large retail collapses.

DJ UQ Arcadia BEIS

Commenting on the stress placed on businesses by Government’s COVID induced recession, Darren called for a taskforce to be set up to limit further damage to livelihoods:

“It has been a dark week for bricks and mortar retail in the UK. While many will point to issues relating to the management record and business models at Arcadia and at Debenhams, there is no doubt that Covid-19 has hit the high-street hard and, sadly, looks likely to bring job losses and store closures to many communities across the country. I hope the Secretary of State will come forward with more detail on the support the Government will provide to the retail sector.

The Government should be doing more to bring stakeholders together to find a solution to commercial rent debts as well as support for small businesses in the retail supply chain. I hope the Secretary of State will look again at setting up a Retail Taskforce with tenants, landlords, banks, supply chain businesses and Ministers to find solutions before more damage is caused.”

 

 

 

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Stop ignoring child poverty, warns Darren to Chancellor

Following a disappointing Financial Statement from the Chancellor this winter, Darren questioned the Government’s commitment to eliminating child poverty.

Despite rates of child poverty increasing in the UK, the world 6th richest country, this winter’s financial statement does nothing to address the system causes of child poverty. The statement also fails to dedicate budget to helping families during the winter period that are suffering from in-work poverty.

Speaking in Parliament, Darren raised this issue to the Chancellor directly. You can watch the exchange here:

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Darren calls for clarity over COVID-19 Business Rules

Darren, as Chair of the Business Committee, has written to Alok Sharma, Secretary of State, asking for urgent clarifications about the COVID-19 rules and restrictions for businesses once England’s national lockdown ends at the start of December.

Darren and the Business Committee took evidence from Excluded UK, UKHospitality, Marston’s PLC, PureGym and more to understand the effectiveness of support available to businesses and the impact of Coronavirus restrictions. These insights were used to scrutinise the BEIS department’s guidance and support made available to businesses, as well as how taxpayer’s money has been targeted and businesses have been consulted.

Speaking of the importance of delivering clarity of businesses ahead of the Christmas trading peroid, Darren said:

“On Tuesday, business leaders in retail, leisure and hospitality warned of devastated high streets and even higher job losses unless urgent action was taken by Ministers to confirm what will happen after the second lockdown. Businesses need urgent clarity on the rules they will be required to follow under any new tiered system of restrictions so that they can make plans for their staff, sites and suppliers.

“Christmas trading is a crucial period and the Government needs to target support – alongside required public health measures – to help, especially for retailers who have been deemed non-essential during the second lockdown. Specifically, Ministers need to better target support and bring stakeholders together to find a solution to commercial rent debts. Ministers also need to take steps to ensure that businesses and unions are more involved on issues relating to local lockdowns, such as the system of curfews, so that safe and responsible trading can take place.”

You can read Darren’s letter to the Secretary of State below:

 

 

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Darren takes evidence from Metro Mayors about COVID and Levelling Up

Darren took evidence from England’s Metro-Mayors about the value their office adds to their regions.

Following the dramatic confrontation between central Government and the Manchester region over a lack of localised lockdown support this Autumn, Darren asked Metro-Mayor’s about their approach to connecting central and local government.

Darren and the Business Commitee took evidence from Bristol’s Conservative WECA Metro-Mayor Tim Bowles, and other regional Metro-Mayor’s:

  • Rt Hon Andy Burnham, Mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Jamie Driscoll, Mayor, North of Tyne Combined Authority
  • Steve Rotheram, Mayor, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

While most Metro Mayors were able to explain in detail the role their office plays in securing funds to level up their region and maximise the impact of local leaders in ther region, some struggled to find examples of where they’d been effective during their time in office.

You can watch the whole evidence session here.

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Darren Calls For Net-Zero To Be Put At The Heart Of Our Economy Recovery

Writing in Public Sector Executive, Darren argued that regional and local leaders should be unlocked by Whitehall to implement bespoke economic recovery plans that are net-zero ready. Pitching economic stimulus and environmental policy against each other is a false choice; net-zero policymaking is the best way to recover, grow and future-proof the UK’s economy. We have diverse talent-pool of regional and local leaders that are able to tailor energy policy, green initiatives and recovery packages that work for their geopolitical environment. As demonstrated in this pandemic, one-size-fits-all approaches aren’t effective in the long-term. Instead, we need experts contributing net-zero solutions at all levels of government.

You can read Darren’s full article below:

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Darren Calls For Customer Protections To Accompany Energy Efficiency Vouchers

Darren wrote to Kwasi Kwarteng MP, the Minister for Business Energy and Green Growth, raising concerns about the lack of costumer protection offered during legacy energy efficiency home improvement programme. For this green growth policy to be effective, steps need to be taken to ensure that quality, professional local providers are not edged out of the market by dodgy traders and that people have recourse to action if something does go wrong.

Commenting on the need for customer protections, Darren said

Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is vital and I welcome Government funding to start this process. But consumers need to know they’re using a trusted trader and that they can complain and get compensation if something goes wrong.

 

You can read the full letter below:

arren cals