May 18, 2020 / 3:11 PM / 11 days ago

Over 2 million UK self-employed claim COVID grants - Sunak

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is seen as he arrives at Downing Street, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 13, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak said more than 2 million claims for one-off grants, worth 6 billion pounds ($7.3 billion), had been made under a scheme to provide income support for self-employed people during the coronavirus crisis.

“Those people will have the money in their bank accounts within six working days of their claim,” Sunak told parliament.

The scheme, which was launched last week and provides grants of up to 7,500 pounds, is part of the government’s attempts to soften the hit of the coronavirus shutdown on the economy.

Sunak said the centrepiece of Britain’s economic policy response to COVID-19 - a programme to pay 80% of the wages of temporarily laid-off employees - now covered 8 million workers.

A week ago, Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme covered 7.5 million people and was costing around 8 billion pounds a month.

($1 = 0.8208 pounds)

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Costas Pitas

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