‘A time to be bold, a time for courage’: Britain unveils “unprecedented” £330 billion package to support businesses

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, fourth left.

Britain has unveiled an “unprecedented” £330 billion package of loans to protect businesses and new measures to support people financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak reiterated that the government would do “whatever it takes” to tackle the virus outbreak and that it was “a time to be bold, a time for courage.”

In the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s daily briefing, Sunak announced £330 billion worth of government-backed loans for businesses — equivalent to 15% of GDP.

A lending facility has been set up with the Bank of England for larger firms, while the previously announced business interruption loan scheme will be extended from loans of up to £1.2 million to loans of up to £5 million.

The entire hospitality and retail sectors will be given a year-long business rates holiday. It comes after Johnson urged people to avoid pubs, bars, restaurants and theaters.

The Prime Minister also clarified that the government’s intervention was sufficient for venues to claim insurance against a pandemic. Cash grants of up to £25,000 will be made available for businesses with a rateable value under £51,000, while other small firms will have access to grants of up to £10,000. The combination of tax cuts and grants will provide £20 billion worth of support.

“That means that any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, their salaries, suppliers or purchase stock will be able to access a government backed loan or credit on attractive terms,” Sunak said.

The chancellor also announced a three-month mortgage repayment holiday for those in difficulty as a result of coronavirus. The former Goldman Sachs banker also hinted at a separate support package for airlines and airports, which could be announced later this week.

The measures com on top of several others unveiled in the Budget last week.