At a press conference held this afternoon (17 March) Chancellor Rishi Sunak also pledged to make £330bn of capital available for businesses through government-backed loans.
He said the money would be delivered as part of loan guarantees, with large companies able access to funds from a new lending facility with the Bank of England.
Small and medium-sized operators will be able to access an extended business interruption loan scheme, which will now provide loans of up to £5m with no interest payable for six months.
Describing the latest move as doing “whatever it takes,” the Chancellor said that if the demand for loans proved greater than the £30bn sum he would “provide as much capacity as required”.
Addressing hospitality’s concerns over insurance, the Chancellor said that businesses that did have a policy in place to cover a pandemic will be allowed to make a claim for Coronavirus under their insurance policy, although he acknowledged that many businesses would not be covered by such terms.
Responding to a question from the press, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that where businesses have insurance policies that involve a payout if they are compelled to close, the government had reached an agreement with insurers so that businesses will be able to make a claim under the current government action - though this has been disputed.
The Chancellor said he will "go much further" to support jobs and incomes is expected to announce additional measures in the coming days.