Budget 2020: virus measures
£12 billion action plan to combat deadly coronavirus
Crisis: tough action on coronavirus
A series of measures to tackle the deadly coronavirus have been unveiled as part of a £12 billion package of support for companies facing severe trading problems.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the emergency funding alongside a further £18bn to deliver on Boris Johnson’s election pledge to “level up” the UK.
The government will cover the cost of salaries and bills and offer loans of up to £1.2 million to support small and medium-sized businesses.
Announcing his first Budget after the Bank of England cut the interest rate by 0.5%, Mr Sunak said: “The government will offer a generous guarantee on those loans, covering up to 80% of losses, with no fees, so that banks can lend with confidence.
“This will unlock up to £1bn of attractive working capital loans to support small businesses, with more as needed.”
The Chancellor pledged to put hardworking people first, put more money in their pocket, invest a record amount in infrastructure, boost public services, back business and set out a vision for a greener future.
A record £640 billion will be invested in Britain’s roads, railways and digital networks to give Britain the infrastructure that will support economic growth.
Mr Sunak has also pledged to support the NHS with billions of pounds if necessary during the coronavirus crisis.
“Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with Covid-19 – it will get,” he said. “We will get through this together.
“So, whether it’s research for a vaccine, recruiting thousands of returning staff, or supporting our brilliant doctors and nurses… whether it’s millions of pounds or billions of pounds… whatever it needs, whatever it costs, we stand behind our NHS.
“To support the NHS and other public services, I am also setting aside a £5bn emergency response fund – and will go further if necessary. “
He added: “You will soon be able to obtain a sick note alternative by contacting 111. We are relaxing the requirement for people self-isolating to physically attend a job centre to claim benefits; everything can be done by phone or online.
“If people cannot work we will support them. Sick pay will be paid from day one rather than day four.”
The costs to a business with fewer than 250 employees of having to have someone off work for up to 14 days will be refunded.