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British government working on COVID recovery plan for economy, says source

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: People walk along Oxford Street as shops remain closed under Tier 4 restrictions, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government is working on a recovery plan for the country's COVID-battered economy, a source said on Sunday, as ministers direct their attention to trying to restore growth for businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and finance minister Rishi Sunak have broken with the traditional, pro-market instincts of their Conservative Party and are on course to spend 280 billion pounds of public money in the current financial year to support jobs and businesses.

The government source said the finance ministry and cabinet office were working on a recovery plan after the Sunday Times reported that the government would provide a long-term blueprint that is likely to mean high state spending for a decade.

The Sunday Times also said Sunak would use his March 3 budget to extend government relief, including the furlough job protection scheme, business support loans, cuts in value-added tax, and perhaps the cut to stamp duty on property purchases which is due to expire at the end of March, until the virus is under control.

Earlier this month, a leading British employers group called for another 7.6 billion pounds of immediate government help, saying they could not wait until the March budget.

The Sunday Times said Sunak would also announce that the support programmes will be phased out, probably this autumn, in favour of “a plan for jobs” to kick-start employment and a “plan for growth” to promote new industries.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Frances Kerry)