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Coronavirus: Government committed £15bn to buy PPE as COVID-19 spending revealed | Politics News

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The government allocated more than £15bn to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline NHS staff as part of an extra £50bn given to public services to help them cope with the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury documents have revealed.

On the same day that Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £30bn package of new measures to kickstart the UK’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, further details emerged of the government’s already vast spending.

At his Budget on 11 March, Mr Sunak vowed to give the NHS “whatever it needs, whatever it costs” to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.



What has the government been spending so far?



What has the government been spending so far?

Treasury documents published on Tuesday revealed that – since the chancellor made that pledge – he has so far approved £48.5bn of additional spending on public services for the immediate response to the outbreak.

This is more than the Ministry of Defence’s annual budget.

The sum includes £31.9bn of support for health services, of which more than £15bn was approved to buy PPE and £10bn earmarked for the government’s test and trace scheme.

In addition, £1bn was allocated to buy extra ventilators for the NHS.

In total, direct fiscal support worth almost £160bn – including the near £50bn spend on public services – has been announced by the government since 11 March to deal with the crisis.

This includes £69bn on employment support – such as the government’s furlough scheme for workers and income support scheme for the self-employed – and business support worth £30bn.



The chancellor unveiled an "Eat Out to Help Out" discount of up to £10 per head to get people back to restaurants, cafes and pubs;



Sunak explains ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme

The near £160bn sum is almost £30bn more than the latest estimate from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which stands at £133bn.

This does not include the £30bn package of extra measures announced by Mr Sunak on Wednesday, which contained an “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme to provide half-price meals at restaurants, cafes and pubs for Britons during August.

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Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “Prior to today, the total value of new measures announced since March was thought to stand at £130bn.

“Today the Treasury revised that figure up to nearly £160bn with £30bn more being spent on public services, especially health.

“The chancellor also set out new measures worth a further £30bn.

“More support may well need to be announced in the autumn when we know more about the path of the virus and of the economy, but this was another big package from the chancellor.”

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “Today’s Budget in-all-but-name was a £30bn top-up to a pandemic response that is approaching 10% of GDP and will push borrowing to around £350bn this year.”

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