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UK finance minister weighs delaying autumn budget on second COVID-19 wave - FT

·1-min read
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits Peak Scientific, a Scottish manufacturer of gas generators for analytical laboratories in Glasgow
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits Peak Scientific, a Scottish manufacturer of gas generators for analytical laboratories in Glasgow

(Reuters) - British finance minister Rishi Sunak is weighing options to shelve his autumn budget if Britain is hit by a big second wave of the coronavirus, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

While Sunak expects to deliver his budget as planned, it is a sign of government anxiety over a possible autumn COVID-19 spike that he is ready to delay big public spending decisions until after the crisis, the FT said.

Britain risks a second wave of COVID-19 in the winter twice as large as the initial outbreak if it reopens schools full-time without improving its test-and-trace system, according to a study published last week.

The government wants all pupils to return to school by early September, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling this a national priority.

In the event the budget is postponed — probably until spring 2021 — Sunak would be expected to produce a "mini-spending review" in the autumn, allocating spending to departments for just a single year, the FT said.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)