Govt. provides £330bn lifeline to businesses

The Government has pledged £330 billion-worth of state-backed loans to support businesses feeling the effects of the coronavirus epidemic.

To put that unprecedented figure into context, it represents around 15% of the value of the entire UK economy.

The financial measures were announced following self-isolation and suppression moves imposed by the Government earlier this week.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a one-year business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

Sunak provided grants of up to £25,000 for each retailer and pub affected by a dramatic drop in customers.

An employment support package is also to be provided in an attempt to help employers keep staff on their books.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium, said:

"The business rates holiday, together with the loan package, represent a vital shot in the arm for a sector facing enormous uncertainty.

"We need to make sure retailers can access cash with the minimum of delay, but it is a necessary first step to protect jobs."

Mike Cherry, chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, agreed:

"This unprecedented package of loan guarantees, business rates breaks and cash grants marks a hugely welcome step forward.

"Some small businesses are on the brink - they need time and space from landlords, HMRC and lenders before these interventions take effect."

Adam Marshall, director-general at the British Chambers of Commerce, added:

"The key to the success of these measures is whether they get cash to businesses on the front line, fast."