UK triples coronavirus response fund for NHS and public services | Society


The government’s coronavirus response fund, created in last month’s budget to provide financial assistance to public services, has almost tripled to more than £ 14 billion, said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The move comes as government faces mounting criticism of its response to the pandemic, when frontline health workers have not received enough protective equipment and hospitals need more ventilators urgently.

The funds will strengthen the NHS and local authorities, the Treasury said, with the addition of £ 9 billion to the original £ 5 billion fund announced by Sunak a month ago.

The Chancellor said, “Our utilities and their incredible employees work with determination and immense skill to keep us safe.

“We depend on them, which is why we are doing everything we can to provide our NHS, local authorities and others with the resources and tools they need to fight the virus.

“From the start, I have been clear that our essential public services will get everything they need to protect this country and its people from the coronavirus. “

The Treasury said that the £ 14.5 billion funding included £ 6.6 billion in support for health services, which would be specifically intended to free up hospital beds and provide “urgent priorities, including the acquisition of ventilators, diagnostic tests and protective equipment for NHS personnel ”.

The rest include: £ 3.5 billion to maintain rail services; £ 1.6 billion for local authorities; £ 1.9 billion to decentralized administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and £ 900 million to cover additional measures such as food parcels for the vulnerable.

The new funds will be raised using a combination of existing government reserves, money for expenses that cannot now take place and additional government borrowing, the Treasury said.

He declined to reveal the share of the £ 14.5 billion that would come from each source of finance, or the form that public borrowing might take, saying only that it would provide more details in the next budget.

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Provision of additional resources for public services comes as fears grow over how Sunak will pay for the huge funding needs of Covid-19, the Chancellor is reported to have told colleagues that UK economic output could drop by 30% between April and June, when colleagues in the cabinet asked that the restrictions be relaxed.

The Times reported on Monday that ministers said Sunak had discussed the possibility of a “25% to 30%” drop in the second quarter of this year, while city analysts predicted an average contraction of around 15% of the savings caused by the coronavirus lockout. , although some economists have predicted that the decline could be as severe as 24%. The Treasury did not comment on the report.


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