March 18, 2020 / 4:32 PM / 22 days ago

UK's Sunak says working fast to provide more support for workers

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attends a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Britain March 17, 2020. Matt Dunham/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday that the government was moving quickly to provide more support for workers as the coronavirus outbreak rocks the economy.

Speaking a day after announcing a 330 billion-pound ($399 billion) lifeline of loan guarantees to businesses, Sunak accepted that more would need to be done to support workers, some of whom may already be in financial difficulty.

“We are working at pace, urgently, to see what further support we can put in place, particularly around employment support, looking at some models elsewhere and looking at what model might work best for workers here today,” Sunak told lawmakers in parliament’s Treasury Committee.

He said the government was looking at all possible measures, although given the scale of the challenge they would not be “perfectly targeted”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday the government would bring forward new measures to support workers and protect private renters from being evicted from their homes because of coronavirus.

Johnson also said Britain was stepping up testing for coronavirus to 25,000 a day.

Asked about sterling, which fell below $1.19 to its lowest level in more than three decades on Wednesday against the U.S. dollar, Sunak said it would not be right for him to speculate on the level of the currency.

Writing by Andy Bruce; editing by Stephen Addison

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