Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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What the Petitions Committee is doing

Petition Support the British aviation industry during the COVID-19 outbreak

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak there are travel bans imposed by many countries, there is a disastrous potential impact on our Aviation Industry. Without the Government’s help there could be an unprecedented crisis, with thousands of jobs under threat.

More details

Unite, the UK’s largest union, has devised a plan which it believes the Government must adopt to ensure the industry survives: https://unitetheunion.org/news-events/news/2020/march/coronavirus-government-must-act-now-to-protect-aviation-jobs/

This calls on the Government to help cover workers’ pay, extend loans to the aviation industry, delay payment of taxes and duties, and support routes through public subsidy. Our UK Government should take action to save the British Aviation Industry.

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Government responded

This response was given on 7 May 2020

The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support for companies impacted by COVID-19, including the job retention and business loan schemes.

The Government has announced a range of measures to support companies impacted by COVID-19, including the aviation industry. These measures include:

• Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – providing funding to businesses to help businesses across a range of sectors to pay wages and suppliers, even while experiencing severe disruption to cashflows.

• “Time to Pay” - HMRC is ready to help all businesses and self-employed individuals, experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus, including “Time to Pay” arrangements, which allows the payment of taxes to be deferred.

• Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - launched on 20 April, this helps firms continue to keep people in employment by allowing businesses to put workers on temporary leave. The government will pay cash grants of 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500, providing workers stay employed. The Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to 1 March. It was initially open for at least three months and it has now been extended to the end of June. The option remains to extend for longer if necessary. There is no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme, and all UK-wide employers with a PAYE scheme will be eligible. Further guidance will be set out in due course.

• Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - has been created to support long-term viable small and medium sized businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance. To be eligible, a business must be based in the UK and be impacted by COVID-19, have an annual turnover of no more than £45 million, and be seeking a loan up to £5 million. The scheme is delivered through commercial lenders, backed by the government-owned British Business Bank. There are more than 40 accredited lenders able to offer the scheme, including all the major banks.

• Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme – all firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and larger firms with a turnover of more than £250 million can apply for up to £50 million. The Government will provide a guarantee to enable banks to make these loans. It will support business that were viable before the COVID-19 outbreak, which are otherwise unable to access the finance they need.
All of these measures have been designed to ensure that companies of any size receive the help they need to get through this difficult time – including airports, airlines and the wider supply chain.

If airlines or airports find themselves in trouble as a result of COVID-19 even following the Government’s cross-economy wage and financial interventions, the Transport Secretary and Chancellor have confirmed that the Government is prepared to enter discussions with individual companies seeking bespoke support as a last resort, having exhausted all other options. Any intervention would need to represent value for money for taxpayers.

Further details of all these schemes and support can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support

Department for Transport

Other parliamentary business

Petitions Committee asks Transport Committee to consider petition

A group of MPs called the Transport Committee is investigating the economic impact of coronavirus on Transport, and recently heard from representatives of the aviation sector, senior public officials and the aviation minister as part of its ongoing inquiry.

Catherine McKinnell MP, the Chair of the Petitions Committee, has written to Huw Merriman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, to ask that the concerns expressed and request made by this petition is considered as part of its inquiry.

You can read the letter from the Chair of the Petitions Committee on our website here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1256/documents/10777/default/

The Transport Committee is exploring the impact felt by the transport industry, its workers and passengers in a rolling programme of work to monitor the impact of coronavirus on UK transport, sector by sector.

You can find out more about the inquiry here: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/221/coronavirus-implications-for-transport/

The Transport Committee is a cross-party group of MPs and is independent of the Government. The Committee looks at and questions the Government about matters relating transport.

You can find out more about the Transport Committee on their website: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/153/transport-committee/

You can follow the Transport Committee on Twitter: @CommonsTrans

The Transport Committee is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c

Further Information
You may also be interested to know that because of the large number of petitions that have been started in relation to coronavirus, the Petitions Committee has been questioning the Government about its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Find out more: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/

You can read impartial analysis of the Government response to coronavirus and policy developments here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

Petitions Committee questions Government on its response to coronavirus

Last week the Petitions Committee put some of the most popular questions from the public about coronavirus to the Government Minister for Schools, the Minister for Disabled People and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. These included:

  • How long will schools be closed for and what will the impact be on exams and grades?
  • What financial support will be available for the self-employed?
  • What financial support will be offered to people who are unable to pay their rent or bills due to self-isolation or loss of work?
  • What support will be offered to the events, creative and hospitality industries now that pubs, clubs and cultural venues have been closed?
  • What clear, practical steps can people take to make sure they are following Government guidance on social distancing, household isolation and self-isolation?
  • Who is being tested and why, and will tests be made freely available to everyone?
  • What is the Government doing to ensure that everyone is getting the right information?

Watch the session on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aPLXJcZEfi8

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/192/the-governments-response-to-coronavirus/publications/written-evidence/

Because of the large number of petitions that we continue to receive on coronavirus we have sent more questions to the Government to answer.

Read our letters to different Government Ministers: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/326/petitions-committee/publications/3/correspondence/

Some of the questions we’ve asked include:

  • When will testing capacity will be increased; who will testing be available for and will it be free?
  • What is being done to tackle the spread of disinformation?
  • How quickly will support for self-employed people be made available?
  • What will happen to the school year? Will summer holidays be cancelled so that children can catch up?
  • How are foodbanks being supported to continue operating during the outbreak?
  • What is being done to address panic buying and prevent price hikes of key items?
  • Will trains, buses and flights continue to operate? For how long?

We’ll email you again to let you know when we get a response to these questions, and to let you know about any more action the Committee takes.

Who are we?

We are the House of Commons Petitions Committee. We are a cross-party group of MPs that looks at e-petitions submitted on petition.parliament.uk. We are independent from Government. You can find out more about us and our work on our website.

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions.

Further information

You can read impartial House of Commons Library information about coronavirus here: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/coronavirus/

You can find out more about coronavirus and how you can protect yourself and others here:

https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can read NHS tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips

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