UK economy post-coronavirus under the microscope in ‘super inquiry’ by MPs


Britain’s road back to economic health after the coronavirus crisis and the tools available to the Government in supporting the recovery are being probed as part of a “super inquiry” by MPs.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) cross-party Commons committee has launched what it described as an “over-arching” inquiry to look at what role the Government should play in the recovery and what measures can be taken to rebuild consumer confidence and support businesses.

Darren Jones, chair of the committee, stressed it will also look at how the Government could use the crisis as an opportunity to reset the UK economy and fix old problems that were holding back growth.

He said: “We must build a new, modern Britain that has a stronger, more sustainable and more productive economy where every nation and region shares the opportunities created by economic growth.”

He added: “We want to investigate whether the post-pandemic world presents an opportunity for a resetting of the UK economy – from delivering ‘green’ growth and jobs and levelling up regional economies so that communities and individuals no longer feel left behind, to solving old problems such as poor productivity, sluggish exports and disorganised devolution and embracing new opportunities to modernise the UK economy.”

The committee wants Parliament to play a part in helping avoid a resurgence of problems from before the pandemic, such as inequality, regional imbalances, poor productivity, declining manufacturing and slow progress on the net zero climate change targets.

Mr Jones said: “The Government has a big job to do in helping businesses survive, stimulating economic growth and encouraging the creation of well-paid meaningful jobs.

“Levelling up the UK economy and meeting our climate change targets should be at the heart of the Government’s economic vision.”

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Hearings are expected to begin at the end of June and the committee is inviting written submissions by July 15.

Some of the key questions the inquiry will look at are whether the Government should play a role as a shareholder or investor in businesses receiving state support, which sectors should be prioritised for help, as well as Britain’s ballooning borrowing to fund the recovery.

Ways to upskill workers to support the bounceback and opportunities for the UK economy and export industry post-Brexit are also among wide-ranging topics on the agenda.

It comes as the BEIS committee is already in the throes of a separate inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on businesses and workers, which has been looking at the immediate aftermath of the crisis and support available to those affected.