UK launches fund to help fast-growing businesses through coronavirus crisis

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at a news conference on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, London, Britain, March 17, 2020. Matt Dunham/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak launched a new scheme on Monday to protect fast-growing and innovative companies from the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 1.25 billion pound ($1.6 billion) package comprises a 500 million pound fund for high-growth companies and separate support totalling 750 million pounds for companies involved in research and development.

The British government has been scrambling to upgrade its measures to reduce the scale of the damage to the world’s fifth-largest economy.

A survey last week from the Office for National Statistics showed that 25% of businesses had paused trading since the lockdown.

“This new, world-leading fund will mean (companies) can access the capital they need at this difficult time, ensuring dynamic, fast-growing firms across all sectors will be able to continue to create new ideas and spread prosperity,” Sunak said in a statement.

The support for companies involved in research comprises loans and grants from Innovate UK, Britain’s innovation agency, the finance ministry said. The first payments will be made by mid-May.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by David Goodman

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