Budget 2020: £5bn emergency fund to fight coronavirus

By William Eichler | 11 March 2020

The Government has promised to deliver a £5bn emergency response fund to help manage the extra pressures the NHS and social care sector are facing in the wake of coronavirus fears.

In his Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the coronavirus was the 'key challenge facing this country today’.

Whitehall is creating a £5bn emergency response fund to ensure the NHS and other public services have the resources they need to tackle the impacts of COVID-19.

The Government will also provide local authorities in England with £500m grant funding to support economically vulnerable people who are impacted by the economic fallout of the virus in their area.

The Treasury expects most of this funding to be used to provide council tax relief, either through existing support schemes or through reliefs.

In a Budget dominated by fears of coronavirus, Mr Sunak said that statutory sick pay would be available for all those advised by GPs to self-isolate.

The Government will compensate businesses with fewer than 250 employees by paying statutory sick pay to any employee off for up to 14 days.

Summarising Government plans to invest in health and social care to deal will the impact of coronavirus, Mr Sunak said: ‘Taken together, the extraordinary measures I have set out today represent £7bn to support the self-employed, businesses and vulnerable people.’

Responding to the announcement of a hardship fund for local authorities, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN), Cllr John Fuller, said: 'To make this investment really count it will be important for it to be channelled directly to district councils, and with full flexibilities and no ring fences so that we can rapidly respond to the range of issues this will throw up across our communities.'

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