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Media captionThe chancellor says his 2020 Budget offers the “largest sustained fiscal boost for nearly 30 years”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a £30bn package to boost the economy and get the country through the coronavirus outbreak.
He is suspending business rates for many firms in England, extending sick pay and boosting NHS funding.
In his first Budget speech, he warned of a “significant” but temporary disruption to the UK economy but vowed: “We will get through this together.”
The Bank of England has announced an emergency cut in interest rates.
Mr Sunak, who was promoted to chancellor just four weeks ago after Sajid Javid quit the government, has had to hastily re-write the government’s financial plans to deal with coronavirus.
“We are doing everything we can to keep this country and our people healthy and financially secure,” he told MPs.
Of the £30bn in extra spending, £12bn will be specifically targeted at coronavirus measures, including at least £5bn for the NHS and £7bn for business and workers.
This is on top of other spending pledges that will amount to £18bn next year, and even more in following years.
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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he “welcomed” many of the measures to “head off the impact” of coronavirus.
But he said the extra money for the NHS was “too little, too late” and the UK was going into the crisis with its public services “on their knees” after years of Conservative cuts.
Measures to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus outbreak include:
- Statutory sick pay for “all those who are advised to self-isolate” even if they have not displayed symptoms
- Business rates for shops, cinemas, restaurants and music venues in England with a rateable value below £51,000 suspended for a year
- A £500m “hardship fund” to be given to local authorities in England to help vulnerable people in their areas
- A “temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme” for banks to offer loans of up to £1.2m to support small and medium-sized businesses
- The government will meet costs for businesses with fewer than 250 employees of providing statutory sick pay to those off work “due to coronavirus”
- Plans to make it quicker and easier to get benefits for those on zero hours contracts
- Benefit claimants who have been advised to stay at home will not have to physically attend job centres
The number of coronavirus cases in the UK reached 456 on Wednesday,