Coronavirus: Treasury Secretary urges businesses "stand behind your workers"

21 March 2020, 10:13

By Seán Hickey

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay spoke to Andrew Castle in the wake of new measures for businesses and employees during coronavirus.

The Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire was examined by Andrew on topics ranging from the NHS, the economy and measures for the self-employed.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced comprehensive measures for businesses and employees in the Prime Minister's coronavirus press conference, but was criticised for his inaction on support for the self-employed.

Andrew Castle began with Mr. Barclay asking him how it felt to be at the helm of an economy on the brink of recession with the PM and the Chancellor.

The MP for North East Cambridgeshire insisted that the measures the government have taken on coronavirus "reflect measures taken internationally". Mr. Barclay insisted that the government are working across business and industry to keep the country going during this tough time and the times we find ourselves in is unprecedented.

Steve Barclay MP was on hand to debrief the government's coronavirus strategy
Steve Barclay MP was on hand to debrief the government's coronavirus strategy. Picture: PA

Andrew challenged Mr. Barclay again on the question of the NHS. He claimed that because of government cuts in the past year, the "NHS is frankly not ready for this".

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury came back and told Andrew that the government actually "committed to record investment in the NHS". Mr. Barclay noted that the coronavirus crisis is "a health emergency that has economic problems" and should be treated as such, insisting that there is a cross departmental action needed to fight it.

In terms of employers and their employees, Mr. Barclay told Andrew that the government will stand beside employers on the condition that workers have security during this crisis.

"The government stands behind you, but you need to stand behind your workers" he said.

On the subject of the self employed, Mr. Barclay told Andrew that the government cannot commit to everybody in one announcement and the Chancellor had to decide on "what is deliverable against a very difficult time scale". He didn't rule out help for the self-employed coming in future.

You can watch the full Andrew Castle interview with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury below.

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