LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will offer its largest ever expansion of traineeships, its finance ministry said on Sunday, ahead of a highly-anticipated update due later in the week on the government’s support for the economy through the coronavirus crisis.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak has rushed out emergency measures worth an estimated 133 billion pounds ($163.7 billion) since the start of the crisis, mostly to keep people in jobs after many businesses were forced to close due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The economy shrank 25% in March and April as entire sectors were shuttered.
With the economy beginning to re-open, Sunak will give an economic update on Wednesday where he is expected to outline further measures of support for workers and businesses.
On Tuesday Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to shake Britain’s economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis by fast-tracking infrastructure investment and slashing property planning rules.
But with most of Johnson’s headline spending previously announced, attention has turned to Sunak for more details on fresh plans to support the recovery.
He will announce a 111 million pound investment to triple the number of traineeships, the finance ministry said, adding that businesses would get a 1,000-pound bonus for everyone they offer a work experience placement.
As finance minister since February, Sunak has been widely credited for acting decisively with a job-retention scheme which has seen the government pay 80% of the wages of furloughed workers, and an emergency loan programme for businesses.
Johnson has cautioned that the furlough cannot go on forever. The scheme is due to end in October and employers will have to make contributions from August.
Sunak is also mulling plans to hand out 500 pounds in vouchers to adults, and 250 pounds to children, to spend in sectors of the economy hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, the Guardian said on Sunday.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Jan Harvey)