Rishi Sunak pledges to 'ease burden' on small businesses hit by coronavirus
2 min read
Rishi Sunak said he will ensure small businesses have the cash flow they need to “bridge through a difficult period” amid fears the coronavirus outbreak could damage the economy.
Asked by Sky News’ Sophy Ridge what he’d do for struggling firms, the Chancellor said: “I take my responsibilities seriously to make sure what do we need to do to ease the burden on business over that temporary period of time, to make sure that they have access to the cash flow that they need to bridge through a difficult period, so that they can emerge on the other side strong and ready to get back to normal.”
Expanding on this in an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Sunak suggested small and medium-sized enterprises could be given extra time to pay tax if staff were off work or shopping habits change.
He said: “You have to look at the nature of what the economic impact might be, so that we can design an appropriate response.
“The main issue is lots of people might be ill, and therefore not be able to be at work. And that impacts the productive capacity of your economy if you’ve got a manufacturing plant and they can’t make their widgets.”
The Chancellor added: “We need to look at what are the interventions that we need to help bridge a difficult period. That’s where we might look at some targeted options to help ease the strain on cash flows for a certain period to help them get through to the other side.
He insisted he was “not daunted” by the challenge of protecting the economy in the event of a major outbreak as the UK was “well prepared”.
It comes as the Government warned that up to 100,000 people could die in a worst case scenario coronavirus outbreak.
Elsewhere, Mr Sunak also announced that funding for flood defences would be doubled from 2021 to £5.2bn following February’s record-breaking rain.
He also failed to confirm if he will be sticking to his predecessor's fiscal rules on spending in his first Budget, but described Sajid Javid as "a good friend and mentor”.
“He was my first boss actually," he explained. "Sajid and I have been in touch so yes, he has always given me advice."
Mr Sunak said the advice was "more on the personal side than on the policies side", adding: "He told me to try and find some time for my family, which I must say over the past few weeks I have not managed to deliver on but hopefully soon."
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