© Reuters. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at the House of Commons in London
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday he would announce a one-year plan for government spending on Nov. 25, which would focus on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and delivering on his plans to protect jobs.
“In the current environment its essential that we provide certainty,” Sunak said in a statement.
“So we’ll be doing that for departments and all of the nations of the United Kingdom by setting budgets for next year, with a total focus on tackling COVID and delivering our Plan for Jobs.”
Earlier this month Sunak was forced to abandon plans to set out a three-year spending plan, saying the uncertainties about the coronavirus and its impact on the economy were too great to plan that far ahead.
Instead, the Nov. 25 statement will cover three priorities: ensuring government departments have enough money to tackle the pandemic and support jobs, funding for public services involved in fight the pandemic, and infrastructure investment.
Key programmes such as planned investment in hospital building and high speed rail, are seen as exceptions to the one-year rule and will be given multi-year capital allocations.
Sunak has already ramped up public spending massively to counter the COVID-19 impact on the economy. Britain is set to run a budget deficit of nearly 17% of gross domestic product this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility will publish its latest outlook for the economy and the public finances also on Nov. 25.