THE CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has vowed the NHS will get “whatever it needs” to fight the coronavirus.
Ahead of his unveiling his budget on March 11, Mr Sunak revealed the government could make extra funds available to combat the crisis.
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Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sky News, the 39-year-old insisted Britain was prepared to stave off the virus.
He said: “We’ve already deployed funds to the NHS for both vaccines and immediate response, that’s already happening.
“It’s important to remember we are able to do that because we are in a strong situation today.
“We will get through this.
“We can take whatever steps are necessary, what people should know is I am working hard with the team to make sure we can help anyone through a difficult period.”
Mr Sunak also revealed plans to support businesses that could be affected as the virus spreads across the country.
He explained: “First and foremost, supporting public services but also helping vulnerable people and also businesses to get through anything that might be coming our way… we stand ready to give the NHS whatever it needs.
“I take my responsibilities seriously to make sure we do what we need to do to ease the burden on business over that temporary period of time, to make sure that they have access to the cash flow that they need to bridge through a difficult period, so that they can emerge on the other side strong and ready to get back to normal.
“There are policy levers we can take to ease the short-term burden on businesses’ cash flow and these are businesses that we think are viable, sustainable, that have a bright future but have a temporary period of disruption, and that’s where our interventions should be focused.”
It comes as the former Chancellor Philip Hammond warned the disease had the potential to create a “catalyst for a tipping point in the economy”, or even push the UK into recession.
“Obviously if growth becomes negative the prospect of a recession looms,” he said.
“Growth is stronger in the UK than it is in quite a few other countries in Europe, but it’s not anywhere near as robust as we would have liked it to be going into this kind of crisis.”
He urged Mr Sunak create a war chest to stimulate the economy should the coronavirus crisis escalate.