Rishi Sunak promised to do everything he can to save jobs and pump life into the U.K.’s coronavirus-battered economy, cutting property sales tax and giving employers a bonus if they don’t lay off their workers.
“We face profound economic challenges,” the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House of Commons on Wednesday, laying out a stimulus package that he intends to amplify in a budget and spending review in the fall. “In just two months our economy contracted by 25% — the same amount it grew in the previous eighteen years.”
But he promised to stand by companies that keep faith with their workers, regardless of political ideology.
The chancellor announced a new program to reward employers if they take back furloughed workers and keep them on continuously through the end of January. Businesses will receive a 1,000-pound ($1,256) bonus per employee who returns from furlough in a policy potentially worth 9 billion ($11.3 billion) pounds.
“Where problems emerge, we will confront them. Where support is justified, we will provide it. Where challenges arise, we will overcome them,” he said. “We entered this crisis unencumbered by dogma and we continue in this spirit, driven always by the simple desire to do what is right.”
Sunak faces a gargantuan task in pulling the world’s fifth-biggest economy out of what may be its worst recession in three centuries. Unemployment is expected to spike upwards as he unwinds unprecedented government programs that are funding the wages of more than 12 million workers.
On Wednesday, the Treasury unveiled a 2 billion-pound ($2.5 billion) program to pay the wages of more than 200,000 young workers, bringing to more than 6 billion pounds the value of measures to support jobs and environmental programs announced by Sunak in the run-up to his statement.
That’s in addition to 5 billion pounds of infrastructure spending on schools, hospitals and roads, announced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who pledged the U.K. will “build, build, build” to emerge from the crisis.
Below is a list of stimulus spending announced by the Treasury in the past week:
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