RISHI Sunak yesterday pledged to save Britain’s struggling small businesses from being destroyed by the coronavirus crisis.
The Chancellor promised a package in his Budget to keep little firms afloat despite an expected hit to revenue. Mr Sunak said he was working up a plan to give them “a bridge through a period of temporary difficulty so that they can emerge on the other side”.
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The nation’s 5.9 million small and medium sized businesses with less than 250 employees are considered most at risk from a stricken work force and a collapse in spending.
Mr Sunak told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are very cogniscent on the impact this will have on small businesses’ cash flow.
“I’m keen to make sure when we get to the other side of this, we haven’t lost all these great businesses permanently, and that’s why we need to provide them this short term support.”
Mr Sunak also revealed he is “looking again” at more help for the low paid who are not entitled to sick pay at the moment, as well as “tweaks” to the benefits system to ease the pressure on Universal credit claimants.
He also refused to deny yesterday that the coronavirus outbreak could be the biggest crisis since the 2008 financial crash, saying only: “I would say at this stage there are a range of scenarios that could happen”.
But he argued that will the hit on businesses will be “significant”, it will only be “for a temporary period of time” as infected workers recover quickly from the virus.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson said: “The key economic focus needs to be supporting businesses to ensure what is hopefully a short lived event, and doesn’t lead to them going under and hitting long term growth and living standards.
“Policy will need to be timely and targeted.”
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