Rishi Sunak promises to guarantee £330bn loans to business

Andrew Cummings
March 18, 2020

"This is a time to be bold, a time for courage", finance minister Rishi Sunak said, speaking alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He said: "While a business rate holiday for all hospitality businesses and rate relief for eligible pubs will help alleviate some costs, this will do little to compensate for the potential collapse of cashflow in businesses which customers have been told to stay away from".

Mortgage lenders will give homeowners payment holidays of up to three months if they are financially affected, with help for renters in the pipeline.

"With regard to HMRC, we activated time to pay last week, there are now 2,000 specific, dedicated HMRC officers ready to take the calls of businesses like Gillingham Football Club to provide exactly what he suggested, a deferral for their tax payments and an agreed schedule to pay them back".

The near-lockdown in place across the United Kingdom to tackle the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed 55 lives in the United Kingdom, has threatened the closure of large numbers of businesses in the country, including pubs, bars and restaurants.

There will also be £20bn in giveaways, including grants of up to £25,000 for small firms, and a full year without business rates for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

"That is what we are going to do". And while we need national unity, we also need worldwide cooperation.

"But many of those businesses don't have insurance, so we will need to do more".

However, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman, Nik Antona, said the measures did not go far enough.

He said the "virus is so dangerous" and "infectious without drastic measures to check progress it would overwhelm any health system".

The UK death toll rose to 71 yesterday, with 1,950 confirmed cases, an increase of 407 on the previous day. London is facing the brunt of the crisis and is said to be nearing the peak faster than other parts of the country, with the number of cases set to rise dramatically within days.

He unveiled the measures after the Government's chief scientific adviser said around 55,000 people in the United Kingdom now have Covid-19, as the NHS moved to cancel all non-emergency surgery and 71 people are now known to have died.

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