The Prime Minister has this morning written to all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament, inviting them to a briefing with himself, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser next week.

All party leaders have a duty to work together at this moment of national emergency, and so the Prime Minister will listen to the views of other opposition leaders and update them on the measures his Government has taken so far, including rapidly expanding testing and providing unprecedented support for businesses and people across the country.

The Prime Minister also made clear in his letter that we will always act in the national interest and be guided by the best scientific evidence. We will continue to engage constructively with all political parties in this national effort to defeat coronavirus.

Coronavirus is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer.

We are working to a scientifically-led, step-by-step action plan – taking the right measures at the right time. We know this will not be a short battle – beating coronavirus will take months, not weeks – but the people of the United Kingdom can come through this together.

Our message to the British public is clear: stay at home, in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

Here are some of the actions this Government has already taken to tackle coronavirus

We are rapidly increasing testing and we will provide the NHS with whatever support it needs to get through this, so far we have…

  • Reached our target of 10,000 coronavirus tests per day by the end of March – and set a target of 100,000 by the end of April.
  • Issued a call for action for manufacturers to produce new ventilators – with the first arriving next week and thousands more in the pipeline.
  • Opened NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel Centre in east London, with 500 beds initially available.
  • Struck a deal with private hospitals to put 20,000 staff, 8,000 beds, and 1,200 ventilators at our disposal.
  • We have introduced emergency legislation to help control the spread of COVID-19.
  • £31 billion package of support for our public services, individuals and businesses.
  • Refunding eligible Statutory Sick Pay costs for small and medium sized businesses.
  • £500 million Hardship Fund to support economically vulnerable people and households.
  • We are one of the first countries in the world to develop a test for the new virus.
  • Published guidance for businesses, schools, employers, first responders, social care and transport.
  • A total of £544 million worth of UK aid spent fighting coronavirus – with the UK being the biggest contributor to the international coalition to find a vaccine.

We will protect people’s jobs and incomes…

  • Through the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, any employer in the country – big or small, charitable or for profit – will be eligible for a grant.
  • That means workers across the UK can keep their jobs, and will be paid at least 80 per cent of their salary, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them.
  • And we’re offering the self-employed the same level of support as those in work – with those eligible receiving a grant worth 80 per cent of their average monthly trading profit over the last three years.
  • We will pay grants to support as many jobs as necessary.

We’re helping businesses who are hurting now…

  • Through our new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, we’re lending businesses millions of pounds interest free for 12 months.
  • And we’ve revised the terms of the scheme to make it even more accessible to businesses.
  • We’re helping with cash flow by deferring the next quarter of VAT, so no business will pay VAT until the end of June.
  • We’re abolishing business rates altogether this year if you’re in hospitality, retail or leisure.
  • We’re providing cash grants up to £25,000 for small business properties.
  • Our total £330 billion package of loans and guarantees – worth 15 per cent of our GDP.
  • We will announce further measures for larger and medium sized businesses making sure they can access the credit needed.

We’re strengthening the safety net to protect those who face hardship by…

  • Increasing the standard allowance for Universal Credit and the Working Tax Credit amount for the next year by £1,000 a year – benefitting over 4 million of the most vulnerable households.
  • We’re suspending the minimum income floor for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus, so those who are self-employed can access Universal Credit in full at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay for employees.
  • That’s nearly £7 billion of extra support through our welfare system to protect people’s incomes.
  • We’re deferring tax self-assessments for the self-employed until next year.

We’re helping people keep a roof over their head by…

  • Banning evictions for a three-month period for tenants unable to pay rent.
  • Helping tenants who have struggled financially to put in place affordable repayment plans suited to individual circumstances.
  • Making sure homeowners can get a three-month mortgage holiday if needed.
  • Nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing housing benefit and Universal Credit so that Local Housing Allowance covers at least 30 per cent of market rents in your area.
  • We are standing together with you the British people and our plans for jobs and incomes will keep a roof over your head.

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