United Kingdom unveils $400 billion lifeline for firms hit by coronavirus

Andrew Cummings
March 18, 2020

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.

And he promised that if this package was not enough, he would go further.

As well as the mortgage holiday, Mr Sunak announced a raft of economic policies, including £330bn of loan guarantees for businesses affected by the outbreak, a cash grant of up to £25,000 for businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, as well as increasing interest-free business interruption loans for businesses to £5m.

He said he would set out further steps in the coming days, and that he was holding talks with unions and business groups to develop a form of employment support to help protect jobs and incomes.

This comes after the Chancellor announced during the Budget last week that £1bn of support was being pledged to vulnerable people via the welfare system and local councils' hardship funds.

"The government will stand behind businesses small and large", he said during a daily briefing at Downing Street.

Johnson is accompanied by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak and the government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

The chancellor of the Exchequer has announced at least £330 billion in government-assured loans to keep businesses afloat and employees paid as well as three-month mortgage holidays for borrowers in need.

The total number of people in the United Kingdom to test positive for the virus has risen by 171 in a day to hit a total of 1,543. The number of deaths has risen to 69 across the UK.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the governments chief scientific advisor has warned the United Kingdom "may have up to 55,000 coronavirus cases already".

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab has warned Britons on Tuesday, to "avoid all non-essential foreign travel for 30 days", as the coronavirus pandemic grows.

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