Udayavni Special

Rishi Sunak unveils Future Fund in new COVID-19 package

PTI, Apr 21, 2020, 7:57 AM IST

London: UK businesses driving innovation and development will be helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a 1.25 billion pounds government support package, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Monday, April 20.

The latest set of measures includes a new 500 million pounds loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund, and 750 million pounds of targeted support for small and medium-sized businesses focusing on research and development.

“Britain is a global leader when it comes to innovation. Our start-ups and businesses driving research and development are one of our great economic strengths, and will help power our growth out of the coronavirus crisis,” Sunak said.

“This new, world-leading fund will mean they can access the capital they need at this difficult time, ensuring dynamic, fast-growing firms across all sectors will be able to continue to create new ideas and spread prosperity,” he said.

The Indian-origin finance minister, who has been leading the UK government’s economic response to the pandemic, said that the latest targeted and tailored help would ensure firms in some of the most dynamic sectors of the UK economy ranging from tech to life sciences are protected through the crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products and help power UK growth.

Addressing the daily 10 Downing Street briefing, the minister also revealed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme he had unveiled last month has gone live on Monday and already attracted 140,000 companies reaching out for financial support, which would help save nearly 1 million jobs.

The scheme allows employers to claim a cash grant of up to 80 percent of a furloughed, or forced leave, employees’ wages, capped at GBP 2,500 a month.

“Our unprecedented job retention scheme will protect millions of jobs across the country and is now up and running. It’s vital that our economy gets up and running again as soon as it’s safe and this scheme will allow that to happen,” said Sunak.

Giving the daily figures of those affected by COVID-19 in the country, the Cabinet minister said that 16,509 had died from the deadly virus an increase of 449 on the day before.

The number of people who are in London’s hospitals with coronavirus has fallen for a seventh consecutive day, which was described as an encouraging sign.

Sunak was also asked repeatedly about the acute shortage of surgical gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses across the National Health Service (NHS) hospitals and he admitted it was an “international supply challenge” the government was working to resolve.

We are very much determined to do everything we can to support those NHS workers,” said Sunak, as he confirmed a shipment of PPE is expected from Turkey and Myanmar soon.

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