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Rishi Sunak announces three month 'mortgage holiday' during 'war' against coronavirus
17 March 2020, 17:24
The Chancellor has announced there will be a three month mortgage holiday for anyone affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rishi Sunak said the ongoing pandemic was something "we have never experienced an economic crisis in peace time like this one."
He said the policy is being put in place to help homeowner "get back on their feet".
There was, however, no measures announced for anyone who rents their home.
Mr Sunak added he would "go much further to support people's financial security" in the coming days.
"In particular, I will work with trade unions and business groups to urgently develop new forms of employment support to help protect people's jobs and their incomes through this period."
He also announced there will be an "unprecedented package" £330 billion package of government-backed loans to be made available to businesses by the end of this week.
Mr Sunak said the package - equivalent to 15% of GDP - could go further if demand is greater, and vowed to do "whatever it takes" to help the economy.
The Chancellor, speaking at a press conference inside 10 Downing Street, also said he was extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in the hospitality sector and funding grants of up to £25,000 for smaller businesses.
Asked if the UK is heading for a recession, Mr Sunak said: "This will have a significant impact on our economy - that's what I said last week, I stand by that.
"But I also stand by what else I said is - you know, this will be temporary, we will get through this and we will get through it together, and the steps that we're taking mean that we will emerge together on the other side able to rebound back to confidence and economic activity.
"That's why all the interventions we're looking at are designed to provide that bridge through this - what will be a very difficult, challenging period - but get us through this period and so that we can be there on the other side to emerge stronger thereafter."
The Prime Minister said his government will do what "any wartime government" would do to protect the economy.
The latest measures were unveiled after the Government's chief scientific adviser said around 55,000 people in the UK now have Covid-19, as the NHS moved to cancel all non-emergency surgery and 71 people are now known to have died.
Sir Patrick Vallance told MPs it is hoped the death toll can be kept to under 20,000 as he told of the huge amount of strain the health service will be under from Covid-19.