‘We’re one team!’ Sunak hits back at claim Hancock’s failure sparked spending splurge
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The Chancellor was confronted on Times Radio over his latest generous financial package announced on Wednesday with the aim of further recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Times Radio host Stig Abell asked: “Are you being asked to provide an economic solution to what remains a health crisis?
“If the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary and your colleagues had dealt with proper testing and tracing, you wouldn’t have to flash the cash to get people to come in on meal deals or to cut VAT in the hospitality industry.
“You’re having to do an economic solution because the practical solution should have come in terms of health policy and managing the pandemic.”
But the Chancellor hit back: “We’re one team and we approach these things together.
“It’s entirely reasonable for people to be anxious about going out again because we shut things down and that was the right thing to do to control the spread of the virus.
“For the time that we’ve done that people have learned how to be at home and kind of unlearned how to be out and it’s understandable that they’re anxious about that.
“And we’re seeing that in many countries as well, people’s anxiety about returning to restaurants and getting back doing the things that they’re used to.”
Mr Sunak said more than a million businesses had benefited from Government financial support during the crisis, but apologised to those who had not been reached.
He told Times Radio: “Over a million businesses have benefited, for example from the furlough scheme a million businesses have accessed some of our loans, almost a million businesses have got access to cash grants or business rates holidays.
“So clearly the scale of what we’re doing is reaching a lot of people. Is it going to reach absolutely every single person and every single company in exactly the way they would like?
“I’m sure not and I can only apologise for that.”
He also apologised to freelancers who feel left behind by the support schemes.
“Does everyone feel that they’ve been helped in the way that they would like to have been? Of course not and I can only apologise for that.”
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On Wednesday, the Chancellor announced a sweeping package of measures on Wednesday including giving firms which have furloughed staff a £1,000 bonus to keep workers in jobs.
While warning that “hardship lies ahead”, he insisted no-one will be left “without hope”, as he revealed plans to cut stamp duty, slash VAT on food, accommodation and attractions to 5% and give diners a discount to support pubs and restaurants.
Speaking in the Commons Mr Sunak said his plan would help protect livelihoods after the economy contracted by 25 percent in just two months.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies will give its initial analysis of the summer economic update on Thursday.
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