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18 Mar 2020
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled a £330 billion package of support for the UK economy as it combats the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures dwarf the £12 billion made available in last week's Budget, but the Chancellor promised to go further if necessary.
The package includes an increase in government-backed loans, higher cash grants, widened business rates relief for some sectors and mortgage holidays for struggling homeowners. The government is extending the Business Interruption Loan Scheme announced in the Budget from £1.2 million to £5 million, with no interest due for the first six months.
Businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors will pay no business rates for 12 months, regardless of their rateable value. If they have a rateable value of less than £51,000, they are now eligible for a cash grant too.
The Budget made £2.2 billion available in cash grants of up to £3,000 for businesses currently eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rate Relief: this has now been extended to £10,000.
Commenting on the package, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said that although the Chancellor was 'doing the right thing' and the measures would 'provide vital support to struggling businesses', more needed to be done.
She added: 'Urgent decisions are also needed on wages. An immediate mechanism is needed to top up wages for firms with no choice but to reduce hours for lower paid staff, so they can keep them employed and get through to the other side.
'It is clear this situation will not stand still, so nor can the economic support. The pace of change is too fast to play catch-up.'