London, March 20 (IANS) UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak will on Friday announce an employment and wage subsidy package to try to protect millions of jobs in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement by the newly-appointed Indian-origin Chancellor will come after talks went on into Wednesday night with business groups and union leaders, who urged the government to help pay wages, reports the BBC.
Many firms are warning of collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK was largely put on hold.
During his daily media briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled that Sunak would be saying more on Friday about the extended package the government is putting forward for workers.
Johnson has urged struggling businesses to “stick by their employees, because we're all going to need them”.
Businesses will be “watching carefully to see what government support comes in”, said Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry.
“Many other countries have now done this – France, Germany, Spain, Italy have put employee wage support in place and if that comes through quickly I believe there are businesses who will take a different decision because they want to keep their people and they want their businesses to be viable for when we recover,” she told the BBC.
The announcement comes just days after the government unveiled a range of financial measures including 330 billion pounds in loans, 20 billion pounds in other aid, a business rates holiday, and grants for retailers and pubs.
The Bank of England has cut interest rates twice in a little over a week to try to provide support to the UK economy, while lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday to homeowners in financial difficulty due to the virus.
On Thursday, Sunak spoke to representatives of business groups and unions including the Federation of Small Businesses and the Trades Union Congress, where it was agreed more needed to be done to protect workers' jobs.
In the UK, 144 people with the virus have died, and 3,269 people have tested positive.