Published: 07:29, 11 March 2020
| Updated: 14:58, 11 March 2020
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged a £30bn injection to support the economy through the corona crisis, saying it is essential businesses get the support they need as the country faces the challenge of dealing with the impact of the infection spreading.
In his first speech as Chancellor, he said the crisis was the clear priority for the government and set out a series of steps to help businesses struggling to see through the period of uncertainty.
In a speech littered with spending pledges, he said he understood that people were concerned about the corona virus but said:
'We will get through this together...the Government is doing everything it can to keep the UK healthy and financially secure." There was likely to be a 'temporary disruption' to the economy while up to a fifth of the working age population could be off at any one time.
He went on to lay out a series of measures to mitigate against the spread of the disease, describing the package as "one of the most comprehensive packages anywhere in the world."
He said the NHS would get "whatever it needs, whatever it costs" to tackle the crisis.
The government is expected to announce further support for the NHS in its efforts to contain and delay the spread of the infection.
At the same time, the budget is expected to acknowledge the unique pressure on businesses, who have made no secret of their unease about the impact the crisis is having on the economy.
And Kent councils will be scrutinising the spending plans amid concerns that funds will be redirected to those constituencies in the north of England at the expense of the south east.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that the government is determined to “level up” the national economy with plans to boost investment in the north - focused particularly on constituencies it won from Labour in the December election.
There was pressure on the government to resist calls for the freeze on fuel duty to be ended. Kent MPs Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) and Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) were among a group of backbenchers who urged the government to maintain the freeze.
A letter to the Chancellor in advance of his announcement today stated: “We mustn't, as a government, balance environmentalism on the backs of working people. They depend on their cars, vans and lorries to get about and run a small business. Every penny of a fuel price rise hits their financial security.”
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