Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350bn (€361bn) bailout yesterday to help keep businesses and households afloat during the coronavirus crisis.

The UK chancellor announced £330bn in government-backed loans for firms of all sizes so they could keep paying employees’ wages – the equivalent of 15pc of UK GDP.

There will also be £20bn in giveaways, including grants of up to £25,000 for small firms, and a full year without business rates for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.

Boris Johnson said he and the chancellor were acting “like any wartime government” by doing “whatever it takes to support our economy”.

Mortgage lenders will give homeowners payment holidays of up to three months if they are financially affected, with help for renters in the pipeline.

Mr Sunak made clear there would be more to come, but stopped short of the help available in some countries, such as the suspension of household bills.

The chancellor said he would draw up plans for more support for workers facing redundancy and said the government would consider cash payments for those hit hardest after Donald Trump outlined plans to give $1,000 per month to US workers.

Despite the massive bailout, the government faced demands to move faster amid warnings that tens of thousands of workers faced being laid off.

The spending watchdog called for a “blunderbuss” approach to the financial crisis, saying it was not the time to be “squeamish” about public debt.

The UK death toll rose to 71 yesterday, with 1,950 confirmed cases, an increase of 407 on the previous day.

It came as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab advised against all “non-essential” foreign travel for 30 days and warned anyone who did travel risked being stranded abroad.

Irish Independent

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