Covid-19: Small Businesses

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 13th January 2021

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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In my earlier answer to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, I outlined the help that we are giving to self-employed people, with the fourth income support grant. We are providing an extra £4.6 billion to protect UK jobs and businesses. We accept, of course, that a lot of these schemes were put together quickly and in haste, and that we need to keep them under constant review to ensure that as many people as possible are receiving that help and support.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD) [V]
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My Lords, we are aware that our diverse communities are substantially and adversely affected by the present pandemic. I have received a large number of complaints about SMEs, including post offices, pharmacies and corner shops, that may go down because of a lack of finances and other resources. I ask the Minister, as I have done before: will he ensure that these businesses are adequately consulted and assisted before they go down, never to recover?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a vital point. I and my ministerial colleagues regularly having meetings with all the various business representative organisations to ensure that the support we are able to give is carefully tailored, targeted and available to as many different businesses as possible.

Post Office: Horizon Accounting System

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Callanan
Tuesday 6th October 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I am not the Minister directly responsible for the Post Office; Paul Scully is the Minister who is directly responsible. He has regular meetings with the Post Office chief executive, and, indeed, I have also met him to discuss this matter. This scandal has been going on for the best part of a decade now, through successive Governments and Ministers. We are not trying to hide behind anything. That is why we have announced this inquiry with a High Court judge to try to get the bottom of these matters. It has been extensively looked at and the High Court opined on it, but we think that more can be done, and I assure the noble Lord that we want to see these matters properly examined and the appropriate blame apportioned.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the Criminal Cases Review Commission refers cases of miscarriage of justice to the Court of Appeal. In this case, we understand that it will not receive a challenge from the Post Office on this matter. When the matters have been dealt with, would the Minister promise that the matter will be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service and the police to see what further action could be taken in relation to this matter?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The CPS is already examining the conduct of Fujitsu in this case, but the noble Lord will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on those proceedings.

Retail Businesses: Financial Support

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Callanan
Monday 21st September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Baroness is right to draw attention to the massive changes taking place in the retail sector, some of which were exacerbated by the Covid dynamic. There has been a lot of switching to online shopping, but many high street premises are engaged in online business as well. So, there is a vast range of innovative things happening throughout the sector.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, a number of small retail businesses are owned by people from ethnic minority communities. What consultation has taken place with their professional bodies? Can the Minister produce a list so they can see how to survive the present crisis?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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We continue to engage with professional organisations from all sectors. The Covid support schemes, including the loan guarantee schemes, are designed to be as accessible to as many businesses as possible, including, of course, BAME businesses.

Covid-19: Business

Debate between Lord Dholakia and Lord Callanan
Wednesday 13th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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Since the lockdown restrictions were implemented in March, more than 450,000 people have been unable to progress their plans to move house. All buyers and renters will now be able to complete purchases and view properties in person, and estate agents, conveyancers and removal firms can return to work—while, of course, following the appropriate social distancing guidelines. If employees have concerns about their employers’ compliance they can raise them, ultimately, with the HSE or their local authority.

Lord Dholakia Portrait Lord Dholakia (LD)
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My Lords, the country is well aware of the front-line contribution of our diverse communities during the present crisis. A disproportionate number have lost their lives. The Minister mentioned in the Statement that the Government consulted approximately 250 stakeholders in their preparation of the guidance notes. What consultations have taken place with key black and ethnic minority organisations? Has the Minister consulted catering organisations on their dietary requirements at the present time?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The noble Lord makes a good point. The number of ethnic minority communities that seem to be adversely affected by this virus is indeed very concerning. I can confirm that we have, of course, fulfilled our equality duties within the guidance. We have had this subject constantly at the forefront of our minds as we formulated this guidance. We have consulted widely across all business and industry.