Boris Johnson launched a desperate bid to stop coronavirus effectively, with hundreds of billions pumped into bailing out businesses and speculation utility bills and council tax could be scrapped.
The PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak said they were acting like a ‘wartime government’ and would do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep the economy going.
‘We know we will beat it,’ Mr Johnson said.
Some £330billion of loans to businesses will be guaranteed by the government – equivalent to 15 per cent of GDP.
Mr Sunak said there would be a cash grant of £25,00 per business, and every business in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors would be exempt from rates for a year.
“Today I am making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees equivalent to 15 per cent of our GDP,’ he said.
“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.
“And if demand is greater than the initial £330billion I am making available today I will go further and provide as much capacity as required.
“I said whatever it takes and I meant it.”
The lockdown announced by Mr Johnson last night has sparked panic among businesses and fears millions could be made unemployed, while the self-employed and those in the ‘gig’ economy could also struggle to work.
Office for Budget Responsibility chief Robert Chote suggested that paying firms to waive utility bills and ditching council tax could be a good way of helping the public.
The experts also mooted the idea of guaranteeing businesses the same revenue this year as in the last 12 months.
Mr Chote said: ‘This is not the time to be squeamish about one-off additions to public sector debt.
‘It’s more like a wartime situation – that this is money well spent.’