The UK has announced a £30 billion emergency stimulus package to shore up the British economy from the coronavirus outbreak


The UK government has announced a series of emergency measures worth £30 billion to protect Britain’s economy from the growing negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Chancellor Rushi Sunak on Wednesday revealed the Conservative government’s first Budget since the general election.

He was forced to re-write the government’s spending plans in wake of the COVID-19 virus spreading across the UK.

Sunak told the House of Commons: “Taken together, the extraordinary measures I have set out today represent £7 billion to support the self-employed, businesses and vulnerable people. To support the NHS and other public services, I am also setting aside today a £5 billion emergency response fund and I will go further if necessary.

“Those measures are on top of plans which provide an additional fiscal loosening of £18 billion to support the economy this year.”

Here are the UK government’s key policies for combating the economic impact of coronavirus.

The National Health Service

Coronavirus NHS hospital

Sunak said that the NHS would get all the funding it needed to deal with coronavirus, “whether it’s millions of pounds, whether its billions of pounds, whatever it will cost, it will get.”

The Chancellor said the UK’s health service would get all financial support necessary for staff, vaccines, and scaling up its testing of people for the COVID-19 virus.

Out of work Brits

Oxford street london
Shoppers throng Oxford street during the final weekend of shopping before Christmas in London December 20, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The UK government estimates that 20% of British employees may be out of work at one time at the peak of coronavirus.

Chancellor Sunak today said that the government was extending statutory sick pay to all people who stay off work to isolate themselves – even if they do not have coronavirus symptoms.

He also said that the self-employed – including gig economy workers in companies like Uber and Deliveroo – would be able to claim benefits payments from day one, and not have to wait for them.

The UK government is also temporarily removing the minimum income floor from Universal Credit to ensure that Brits who cannot work are able to pay for essentials and bills.

In addition to these measures, the government is also creating a £500 million “hardship fund” for local authorities to spend on protecting vulnerable people in their areas.

Small businesses

UK pub

The UK government today revealed a series of policies for protecting small businesses from the impact of coronavirus.

Businesses which employ fewer than 250 people will be entitled to government refunds on any sick pay they give to the employees over two weeks. Sunak said this would be worth around £2 billion.

The government has also taken the step of abolishing business rates for tens of thousands of small and medium-sized which are likely to be damaged by a loss of footfall during the coronavirus outbreak.

Businesses covered by the policy have a rateable value of less than £51,000 and include shops, cinemas, restaurants, music venues, small hotels, nightclubs, museums, art galleries, theatres, and others.

Sunak said the tax cut was worth £1.1 billion and would provide each business with up to £25,000 relief.

The UK government is also setting up a £1.2 million “interruption loan” for small and medium sized businesses affected by coronavirus.