London presents its anti-COVID and post-Brexit budget

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London | British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak presented his budget plan on Wednesday to support the economy of the United Kingdom, brought to its knees by the pandemic and which will have to do without European funds after Brexit.

Rishi Sunak warned over the weekend on Sky News that the UK was under “enormous pressure” and facing a major “economic shock”, suggesting that a first brake on spending was to be expected.

In a speech to parliament around 12:30 GMT, Mr Sunak is expected to announce new measures to support employment, including a ‘fresh start’ mechanism that provides £ 2.9 billion over three years to help ‘more than ‘a million unemployed people looking for work’.

The Chancellor also plans to extend until the end of March an apprenticeship program which allows employers to receive 2,000 pounds for each new apprentice hired, to fight against unemployment, which has risen sharply in recent months in the wake of the pandemic.

This particularly hit aviation, tourism, distribution, catering and nightlife venues and even gyms.

The United Kingdom is the country most bereaved in Europe by the novel coronavirus pandemic with more than 55,000 deaths testing positive.

It is also one of the hardest hit in Europe from an economic point of view: gross domestic product (GDP) contracted from a record 19.8% in the second quarter.

The public body OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) will unveil its new economic forecasts on Wednesday, on which the government relies.

It should confirm an explosion in the public deficit which could approach 400 billion pounds for 2020-2021, while the debt exceeds 2 trillion pounds.

First savings?

The government has already disbursed around 200 billion pounds, part of which for the partial unemployment scheme finally extended by six months until March 2021 on the eve of the November reconfinement.

If the government rejects any return to the austerity of the 2010s, the minister has suggested a possible freeze of salaries in the civil service, outside the NHS, and a reduction in aid abroad, which has already aroused strong criticism.

In addition to protecting jobs, the young minister (40) is expected to unveil 151 million pounds to help take care of the homeless, whose numbers have soared since the start of the pandemic.

He is also expected at the turn on the issue of regional investments to “rebalance” the north, more disadvantaged, with the capital and the south, richer, one of the great campaign promises of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Mr. Sunak is expected to announce “tens of billions of pounds of investments”, according to the Treasury, and give details of the “prosperity sharing” fund, announced as the substitute for European structural funds including the north of England or Wales have benefited greatly.

Some 220 million pounds are planned to finance projects such as fiber optics or transport, or a national bank to finance infrastructure and ecological transition, and which will be established in the north of England.

As the post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31, the business community is worried about the lack of tangible progress in trade negotiations between the UK and the EU.

Without an agreement, the WTO regime will prevail with the return of tariffs that would be devastating for many industries.

The automotive industry claims that a “no deal” would cost it £ 55 billion by 2025.

Knowing that the defense of the British border in the face of an influx of illegal immigrants had largely counted in the pro-Brexit vote four years ago, Mr Sunak will announce 220 million pounds to strengthen it.

The NHS, Britain’s revered universal healthcare system structurally underfunded compared to other industrialized countries, is set to be allocated £ 3bn in the face of second wave of COVID-19, while schools, the military are also expected to feature on the budget priority list, in addition to a new counterterrorism center.

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