Sunak promises extra financial support will not lead to prolonged restrictions

The extra financial support for businesses announced by the Treasury will not be used as an excuse to justify prolonged lockdown restrictions, Rishi Sunak has said.

Facing calls from Tory MPs to get areas of the country "back to Tier 1 as swiftly as possible", the Chancellor promised that "the support we've put in place today will not be used as an excuse, not to do that".

Mr Sunak's comments came as Conservative chair of the Treasury Select Committee Mel Stride called for the UK's chief economist Mark Gregory to join Number 10 press briefings on Covid-19.

Making a statement in the House of Commons, the Chancellor announced billions of pounds of extra help for firms and workers hit by coronavirus restrictions.

The Treasury's new package includes making the Job Support Scheme, which replaces the current furlough system, more generous and grants of £2,100 available for firms in Tier 2 areas of England.

Responding to Mr Sunak's statement, Tory MP Julian Sturdy (York Outer) said: "Does (Mr Sunak) agree that the best way to support York's wider economy is to get us back to Tier 1 as swiftly as possible and can he assure me that the support announced today will not be used to justify prolonged additional restrictions for longer than is absolutely necessary?"

26 PHOTOS
Rishi Sunak
See Gallery
Rishi Sunak
Newly installed Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaving Downing Street, London, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson reshuffles his Cabinet. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove (centre left) and Chief Secretary of the Treasury Rishi Sunak during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/Jessica Taylor/PA Images via Getty Images)
Conservatives' Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak (L), Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice (C) and SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon participate in a general election debate in Cardiff, Wales on November 29, 2019. - Britain will go to the polls on December 12, 2019 to vote in a pre-Christmas general election. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 14: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks flanked by his new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (4th R) following a reshuffle at Downing Street on February 14, 2020 in London, England. The Prime Minister reshuffled the Cabinet yesterday. High profile changes were Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, Housing Minister Esther McVey and Northern Ireland Minister Julian Smith all sacked and Chancellor Sajid Javid resigned. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs his first meeting of the cabinet the day after a reshuffle at 10 Downing Street in central London on February 14, 2020. - The British prime minister chaired a first meeting of his new-look cabinet on February 14, the day after a reshuffle that saw Chancellor Sajid Javid quit and be replaced with rising-star Rishi Sunak. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak poses for pictures with the Budget Box as he leaves 11 Downing Street on March 11, 2020 ahead of the announcement of Britain's first post-Brexit budget. - Britain unveils its first post-Brexit budget on on March 11, with all eyes on emergency government measures to ease the economic pain from the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer departs to deliver the annual Budget at Downing Street with members of the Treasury staff (L-R) Minister of State Lord Agnew, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay Claire Coutinho MP and Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen (R) on March 11, 2020 in London, England. The government is presenting its first budget amid the economic pressure of the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier today, the Bank of England announced an emergency interest-rate cut to boost economic activity. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Britain's newly appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street in London on July 24, 2019. - Boris Johnson took charge as Britain's prime minister on Wednesday, on a mission to deliver Brexit by October 31 with or without a deal. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his Budget in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is shown the testing of samples for respiratory viruses by Dr Antony Hale (left) during a visit to the pathology labs at Leeds General Infirmary. This is the same procedure that will be used by the lab when it begins to receive coronavirus samples for testing. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to Leeds Station to highlight the record infrastructure spend after yesterday's budget. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Britain's Chancellor Rishi Sunak, (L) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson give a press conference about the ongoing situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak inside 10 Downing Street on March 17, 2020 in London, England. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
hBritain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (C) gestures as he speaks to staff members during a visit to the pathology labs at Leeds General Infirmary to highlight the record infrastructure spend after yesterday's budget, in Leeds, Yorkshire on March 12, 2020. (Photo by Danny Lawson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DANNY LAWSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 10 Downing Street, London, joining in with a national applause for the NHS to show appreciation for all NHS workers who are helping to fight the Coronavirus. (Photo by Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images)
Screen grab of Chancellor Rishi Sunak (right) and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (R) visit Pizza Pilgrims in West India Quay, London Docklands on June 26, 2020 as the restaurant prepares to reopen on July 4 as coronavirus lockdown rules are eased. - The British government on Thursday unveiled plans to get the public out of indoor confinement and on to the streets to boost the economy after three months of coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants pubs and restaurants to be buzzing in the curtailed summer season, despite continued social distancing rules and restrictions. (Photo by Heathcliff O'Malley / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak use hand sanitizer on either side of a table football game as they visit Pizza Pilgrims in West India Quay, London Docklands on June 26, 2020 as the restaurant prepares to reopen on July 4 as coronavirus lockdown rules are eased. - The British government on Thursday unveiled plans to get the public out of indoor confinement and on to the streets to boost the economy after three months of coronavirus lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants pubs and restaurants to be buzzing in the curtailed summer season, despite continued social distancing rules and restrictions. (Photo by Heathcliff O'Malley / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: In this screengrab, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak takes part in the BBC Children In Need and Comic Relief 'Big Night In at London on April 23, 2020 in London, England.The 'Big Night In' brings the nation an evening of unforgettable entertainment in a way we've never seen before. Raising money for and paying tribute to those on the front line fighting Covid-19 and all the unsung heroes supporting their communities. (Photo by Comic Relief/BBC Children in Need/Comic Relief via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21: Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits beside Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a face-to-face meeting of his cabinet team of ministers, the first since mid-March, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on July 21, 2020 in London, England. The meeting in the FCO will take place in a ventilated room in the Foreign Office large enough to allow ministers to sit at least one metre apart. (Photo by Simon Dawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 16: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits a Jobcentre Plus in Barking, east London with Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey (not pictured) to see the new support being provided in job centres by the doubling of work coaches on July 16, 2020 in London, England. The Labour Market Statistics were released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), indicating a drop of around 650,000 in the number of employees in the UK on payrolls from March to June this year. (Photo by Anthony Upton-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak greets an employee during a visit to the Worcester Bosch factory in Worcester, central England, on July 9, 2020. - The UK government on on July 8 committed £30 billion ($37 billion, 33 billion euros) to saving jobs and helping the young find work in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Delivering a mini-budget to parliament, finance minister Rishi Sunak announced bonuses to companies retaining staff and taking on apprentices, investment in eco-friendly jobs and even allowing Britons to enjoy discounted meals in some restaurants. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 07: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits Peak Scientific, a Scottish manufacturer of gas generators for analytical laboratories on August 7, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Andy Buchanan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in Downing Street, London. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
ROTHESAY, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 07: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak meets with local business people during a visit on the Isle of Bute on August 07, 2020 in Rothesay, Scotland. In recent media interviews, the chancellor has warned that the current furlough program, which subsidises wages for UK employees whose work was suspended by pandemic lockdowns, is not sustainable for the long term. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a visit to Peak Scientific in Glasgow, a Scottish manufacturer of gas generators for analytical laboratories. (Photo by Andy Buchanan/PA Images via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Mr Sunak replied: "The best way to help businesses and protect people's jobs is to allow businesses to trade and allow the economy to function as normally as possible. The support we've put in place today will not be used as an excuse, not to do that."

Fellow Tory Mr Stride called the UK's chief economist to appear alongside the country's chief medical officer Chris Whitty at future Downing Street briefings.

"Could I draw (Mr Sunak's) attention to the minutes of the SAGE meeting on September 21 which state, in the context of lockdowns, and I quote, 'policy- makers will need to consider analysis of economic impacts and associated harms alongside this epidemiological assessment. This work is under way under the auspices of the chief economist'.

"So could (Mr Sunak) update the House on the progress made by the chief economist and will he agree with me that to ensure a balanced public debate, the chief economist or similar economic expert should join the epidemiologists for Number 10 Covid press briefings?"

Mr Sunak responded: "The party opposite did reference the SAGE minutes but seemed to forget that that part of the minutes which struck very rightly that balance between protecting jobs and protecting lives as well.

"He can rest assured that that is what we on this side of the House and in this Government will always do. I may spare the chief economist the pleasure of the press conferences."

Meanwhile, Conservative Scott Benton (Blackpool South) called on Mr Sunak to go further in terms of support for hospitality businesses such as hotels.

Mr Benton said: "Hundreds of hotels in my constituency stand to lose thousands in lost bookings, but because they have not been mandated to close, they will not be entitled to the additional support packages.

"Will (Mr Sunak) take steps to ensure that businesses, such as small hotels which are completely unviable under Tier 3 restrictions, can access grants and the extended Job Support Scheme?"

Mr Sunak replied: "I am happy to tell (Mr Benton) that the money that we have provided for Lancashire for overall business support as it entered Tier 3 can be used precisely to help the businesses that he rightfully mentions that are being impacted by the restrictions even though they are open – that is what that funding is there for the county council and other local authorities to do.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds called on Mr Sunak to apologise to individuals whose businesses have already collapsed due to a lack of financial support.

She said: "Will he apologise to those who have already lost their jobs, seen their businesses slip through their fingers in those areas which have not had that support until now?"

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS