Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent assessment he has made of the extent of the dependence of (a) NHS hospitals and (b) care homes on supplies provided by food and drink wholesalers; and if he will make it his policy to give (i) business rates relief backdated to the start of the covid-19 outbreak to such wholesalers in recognition of the importance of their support for the NHS and (ii) other financial assistance to such wholesalers in recognition that they cannot make full use of the furlough scheme on account of their role in supporting the NHS. 
[Due for Answer on 11 January.]
The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman): This year the Government has provided an unprecedented business rates holiday for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties due to the direct adverse effects of COVID-19, worth about £10 billion, and has frozen the business rates multiplier for all businesses for 2021-22. The Government does not expect the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme (CJRS) to be widely used by public sector organisations. Where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, the Government expects employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion, and correspondingly not to furlough them through the CJRS. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs. In a small number of cases, for example, where organisations are not primarily funded by the Government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate for some staff. There are various schemes that can provide support to specific firms such as wholesalers, including Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans, Bounce Back Loans, grants and VAT deferrals.