Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at a news conference addressing the government's response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, inside 10 Downing Street in London on March 17, 2020 | Pool photo by Matt Dunham/AFP via Getty Images
UK sets out £330 billion coronavirus business loan package
‘We have never in peacetime faced an economic fight like this one,’ Chancellor Rishi Sunak says.
Updated 3/17/20, 7:44 PM CET
LONDON — The British government on Tuesday announced a £330 billion rescue package of loan guarantees to help U.K. businesses survive the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking from Downing Street, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said government intervention was necessary “on a scale unimaginable only a few weeks ago.”
“We have never in peacetime faced an economic fight like this one,” Sunak said.
Businesses throughout the country have warned of a profound economic downturn in the wake of new virus containment measures that have seen all British people told to avoid public meeting places and work from home if possible, with many firms, especially in the hospitality sector, fearing bankruptcy.
The bailout fund — which will be made available to businesses via government-backed and guaranteed loans — amounts to 15 percent of U.K. GDP and comes in the wake of similar economic interventions in France, Spain and other countries.
Sunak said the loan scheme would be “up and running” next week. The government would go further if required, he added.