UK Finance Minister Rishi Sunak unveils £330 billion rescue package in coronavirus fight
Britain’s Indian-origin Finance Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday unveiled a “bold” rescue package to help U.K. businesses and the economy survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer joined British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his daily briefing from 10 Downing Street in London to announce that
he is making available £330 billion of loan guarantees to businesses to help them meet their day to day needs amid the ongoing near-lockdown.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a global health emergency but it is also an economic emergency.
We have never in peacetime faced an economic fight like this one,”
said Mr. Sunak, who acknowledged that people’s anxiety about the disease is matched by their anxiety about their livelihoods and therefore “unimaginable” level of intervention is required.
Mortgage lenders will give a three-month mortgage holiday to people who need help and there will also be special help for airlines, hit particularly hard as a result of travel restrictions around the world.
“Yes this enemy can be deadly, but it is also beatable and we know how to beat it and we know that if as a country we follow the scientific advice that is now being given we know that we will beat it,” Johnson said, as he reiterated Monday’s advice for everyone to avoid unnecessary social contact and travel.
“We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy,” he said.
The near-lockdown in place across the UK to tackle the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed 55 lives in the UK, has threatened the closure of large numbers of businesses in the country, including pubs, bars and restaurants.
The new financial package announced by Sunak builds on the 12 billion pounds he had set out last week in his first Budget in the House of Commons, when he suspended business rates for many firms in England
put in an emergency temporary loan facility in place, extended statutory sick pay for workers, set up a “hardship fund” for local authorities and boosted NHS funding.
Johnson said: “As time goes on we will learn more and more about the disease and the effects of our actions. And while we need national unity, we also need international cooperation.
And although we now need to impose physical distance between ourselves, we must at the same time have closer social support for each other.”
It follows draconian measures he had announced on Monday which calls on people not to go out, even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise and in that case at a safe distance from others.