Coronavirus: Renters ‘need more help’ in UK’s plans

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Media captionRishi Sunak: “We have never in peacetime faced an economic fight like this one”

The government is being urged to do more for families and workers affected by the coronavirus crisis after it announced £350bn of help for companies.

Ministers promised mortgage “holidays”, £330bn in loans and £20bn in other aid.

But some MPs, trade bodies and unions said more support was needed sooner, particularly for renters and those working in the so-called gig economy.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the government was ready to do more to keep people in their jobs.

It comes as the UK death toll hit 71.

In other developments across the globe:

In the UK, supermarkets continue to introduce measures to try to stop customers stockpiling and ensure vulnerable people get food during the crisis.

Sainsbury’s has said it will prioritise elderly and other vulnerable people for online deliveries and limit people to only buying three of any single item.

Other retailers including Tesco and Boots have set limits on particularly popular products including pasta, tissues and hand sanitiser.

Meanwhile, lorry drivers transporting essential goods to supermarkets will be allowed to stay on the road longer without a break after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps temporarily relaxed the rules.

On the TV, EastEnders will be broadcast just twice a week – rather than four times – as the BBC postpones filming of the soap opera and other dramas “until further notice”

And Glastonbury Festival’s 50th anniversary event has been postponed from June 2020 until 2021, its organisers said.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way across the country to support NHS workers. Chelsea Football Club is giving free accommodation to NHS staff in London, while Pret is offering them free hot drinks and half-price food.

Elsewhere, car manufacturers are among the latest companies to be affected with Toyota and BMW both suspending production at their UK factories. Toyota employ more than 3,200 people in the UK, while BMW has 6,000 manufacturing staff.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBoris Johnson: “We must act like any wartime government”

Unveiling the financial measures at a press conference on Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to do “whatever it takes” to support the UK economy through a challenge unprecedented in peacetime.

The chancellor said the £330bn in loans – equivalent to 15% of GDP – would be available from next week to help businesses pay for supplies, rent and salaries.

Other measures to be put in place include extended business rates relief for all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses.

Mortgage lenders will also offer a three-month holiday for people in financial difficulty as a result of the virus.

Help for airlines, which have been hit by travel bans and a slump in demand, is also being considered.

Rachel Reeves, Labour chairwoman of the Commons Business Committee, said there was nothing in the chancellor’s announcement to offer financial support to people who were already on statutory sick pay, self-isolating or had been laid off.

And unions raised concerns there were no measures to help freelancers and people working in the gig economy.

Other MPs called for more help for renters.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma told BBC Breakfast that measures which will offer support to renters will be announced “very shortly”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the government to suspend home rental fees and ban evictions of tenants during the coronavirus crisis.

The prime minister is likely to face more questions on the government’s response to the crisis when he appears before MPs in the Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions at 12:00 GMT.

Companies and trade bodies welcomed the financial measures, but said they needed to work through the fine print.

Adam Marshall, chief executive of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the size of the grants and loans were good news for smaller businesses.

“But what’s going to be hugely important is that cash actually gets to the front line and gets there quickly,” he said.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said the business rates holiday offered “a substantial level of support” but was “probably not well targeted at saving jobs in those industries”.

“It will remain as expensive to pay people and if demand is down then jobs are likely to go,” he added.

He said it may be necessary to cut employer national insurance contributions, delay increases to the National Living Wage, and increase support for individuals through Universal Credit.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The airlines industry is among those to be hit by the virus

The additional measures came after the public were told to avoid all non-essential contact and travel.

By next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks”, under the latest government guidance.

Elsewhere, leading scientists at Porton Down, the Ministry of Defence’s highly secure research laboratory in Wiltshire, have been called in to help deal with the spread of coronavirus, the BBC has been told.

A team of about 10 defence scientists at the laboratory are now working with public health officials to analyse the spread of the virus and to help with testing.

The laboratory was also called in to help following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK reached 71 on Tuesday, after a second death was confirmed in Scotland, as well as a second in Wales and a further 14 in England.

The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it would be a “good outcome” for the UK if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000.

Some 1,950 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK, according to the latest Department of Health figures – but the actual number of cases could be as high as 55,000.

Among the latest confirmed cases is a newborn baby at James Paget hospital in Norfolk.

In other UK developments:





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Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionRishi Sunak: “We have never in peacetime faced an economic fight like this one”

The government is being urged to do more for families and workers affected by the coronavirus crisis after it announced £350bn of help for companies.

Ministers promised mortgage “holidays”, £330bn in loans and £20bn in other aid.

But some MPs, trade bodies and unions said more support was needed sooner, particularly for renters and those working in the so-called gig economy.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the government was ready to do more to keep people in their jobs.

It comes as the UK death toll hit 71.

In other developments across the globe:

In the UK, supermarkets continue to introduce measures to try to stop customers stockpiling and ensure vulnerable people get food during the crisis.

Sainsbury’s has said it will prioritise elderly and other vulnerable people for online deliveries and limit people to only buying three of any single item.

Other retailers including Tesco and Boots have set limits on particularly popular products including pasta, tissues and hand sanitiser.

Meanwhile, lorry drivers transporting essential goods to supermarkets will be allowed to stay on the road longer without a break after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps temporarily relaxed the rules.

On the TV, EastEnders will be broadcast just twice a week – rather than four times – as the BBC postpones filming of the soap opera and other dramas “until further notice”

And Glastonbury Festival’s 50th anniversary event has been postponed from June 2020 until 2021, its organisers said.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way across the country to support NHS workers. Chelsea Football Club is giving free accommodation to NHS staff in London, while Pret is offering them free hot drinks and half-price food.

Elsewhere, car manufacturers are among the latest companies to be affected with Toyota and BMW both suspending production at their UK factories. Toyota employ more than 3,200 people in the UK, while BMW has 6,000 manufacturing staff.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBoris Johnson: “We must act like any wartime government”

Unveiling the financial measures at a press conference on Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to do “whatever it takes” to support the UK economy through a challenge unprecedented in peacetime.

The chancellor said the £330bn in loans – equivalent to 15% of GDP – would be available from next week to help businesses pay for supplies, rent and salaries.

Other measures to be put in place include extended business rates relief for all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of between £10,000 and £25,000 for small businesses.

Mortgage lenders will also offer a three-month holiday for people in financial difficulty as a result of the virus.

Help for airlines, which have been hit by travel bans and a slump in demand, is also being considered.

Rachel Reeves, Labour chairwoman of the Commons Business Committee, said there was nothing in the chancellor’s announcement to offer financial support to people who were already on statutory sick pay, self-isolating or had been laid off.

And unions raised concerns there were no measures to help freelancers and people working in the gig economy.

Other MPs called for more help for renters.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma told BBC Breakfast that measures which will offer support to renters will be announced “very shortly”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the government to suspend home rental fees and ban evictions of tenants during the coronavirus crisis.

The prime minister is likely to face more questions on the government’s response to the crisis when he appears before MPs in the Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions at 12:00 GMT.

Companies and trade bodies welcomed the financial measures, but said they needed to work through the fine print.

Adam Marshall, chief executive of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the size of the grants and loans were good news for smaller businesses.

“But what’s going to be hugely important is that cash actually gets to the front line and gets there quickly,” he said.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said the business rates holiday offered “a substantial level of support” but was “probably not well targeted at saving jobs in those industries”.

“It will remain as expensive to pay people and if demand is down then jobs are likely to go,” he added.

He said it may be necessary to cut employer national insurance contributions, delay increases to the National Living Wage, and increase support for individuals through Universal Credit.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The airlines industry is among those to be hit by the virus

The additional measures came after the public were told to avoid all non-essential contact and travel.

By next weekend, those with the most serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks”, under the latest government guidance.

Elsewhere, leading scientists at Porton Down, the Ministry of Defence’s highly secure research laboratory in Wiltshire, have been called in to help deal with the spread of coronavirus, the BBC has been told.

A team of about 10 defence scientists at the laboratory are now working with public health officials to analyse the spread of the virus and to help with testing.

The laboratory was also called in to help following the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK reached 71 on Tuesday, after a second death was confirmed in Scotland, as well as a second in Wales and a further 14 in England.

The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said it would be a “good outcome” for the UK if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000.

Some 1,950 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK, according to the latest Department of Health figures – but the actual number of cases could be as high as 55,000.

Among the latest confirmed cases is a newborn baby at James Paget hospital in Norfolk.

In other UK developments:





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