British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak warned on Sunday that the UK economy was under “enormous pressure” from the coronavirus, before the government releases the spending review next week.
The economic forecasts to be released along with his spending review on Wednesday will show “the enormous pressure and stress our economy is experiencing,” Sunak told Sky News.
The findings of the UK Office for Budget Responsibility – as well as the 750,000 job jobs that have been lost to the coronavirus – will have to be taken into account “as we consider the best way to fight the virus,” he explained.
Despite the profound impact of the pandemic on Sunak’s spending review, the finance minister refused to re-apply austerity measures.
Government spending will continue to increase compared to last year’s daily public spending, he said. “No one can say in any way that this is austerity,” he declared.
However, Sunak refused to rule out a public pay freeze.
The United Kingdom is the country most affected in Europe by the new coronavirus pandemic, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.
In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government imposed a four-week lockdown to halt the spread of the disease, which should be partially lifted on December 2 to give companies a break.
According to the finance minister, the government is “studying how to see how families can spend time together for Christmas” but refused to anticipate the prime minister’s announcement, scheduled for Monday, on the UK’s strategy this winter.
On Saturday, before the spending review, the Sunak department announced 3 billion pounds (3.9 billion dollars, 3.4 billion euros) to help the public health service (NHS) overcome the impact of the pandemic.
In addition, hundreds of millions of pounds will go to mental health.
csp / jj / bc / zm