Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) effectiveness of the Scottish Wholesale Food and Drink Resilience Fund in safeguarding food and drink wholesale businesses from collapse and (b) potential merits of a scheme based on that model in other parts of the UK. 
[Due for Answer on 1 February.]
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Kemi Badenoch): Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the Government has protected people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK. Food and drink wholesalers have been eligible for a number of economic support schemes, including:
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has been extended until the end of April 2021 for all parts of the UK;
- The opportunity to defer VAT payments due between 20 March and 30 June 2020; and
- The Bounce Back Loan Scheme for small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000, with no interest payments or fees for the first 12 months.
Wholesalers in England may also receive further support with their fixed costs from local authorities through the £1.6 billion in funding made available for discretionary Additional Restrictions Grants to support local businesses.
Businesses may also be eligible for other elements of the Government’s support package including government-backed loans, tax deferrals, Business Rate reliefs, and general and sector-specific grants. The Government urges businesses to visit the online Coronavirus Business Support Finder Tool for tailored information on how to access support available to them.
To give the Scottish Government the certainty to plan and deliver their Covid-19 response, we have provided them with an upfront guarantee that they will receive at least £8.6bn in additional funding this year on top of their Spring Budget funding. It is for the Scottish Government to determine how to use this funding.