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The breadth and scale of the support package put in place by the Government is genuinely unprecedented, whether in times of war, disease or global recession. In Dudley South, nearly 12,000 of my constituents have been supported through the job retention scheme, and 2,500 more have been supported through the self-employment income support scheme. Without such measures, thousands more of my constituents and millions of workers around the country would have lost their jobs. Whereas the last Labour Government chose to bail out the bankers, this Government have decided that the real priority is to back working people around the country, and that is something of which I am extremely proud.
We now need people back at work and the economy growing so that those jobs can be genuinely protected and sustainable in the medium and long term. It is not just a matter of sandwich shops and coffee bars losing out when large numbers of workers are away from the office and the factory for so long. We live and work in an interconnected economy where all parts of it rely on other sectors. One of the main factors limiting order books for manufacturers and other businesses in my constituency is the fact that so much of the economy is performing below normal capacity, and that impacts on supply chains. The longer that many jobs are furloughed, the less likely those jobs are to be there and to be sustainable whenever the furlough scheme ends, and that is why it is not appropriate to have an indefinite extension of the scheme.