Sunak has been meeting trade unions and industry associations,
which have warned that mass lay-offs are imminent unless help
can be found within days rather than weeks.
Sunak is now considering tax holidays for companies and
reversing the pay-as-you-earn tax system to funnel cash directly
to companies so they can keep paying staff.
A government source said Sunak was expected to give details of
the package at Prime Minister Boris Johnson's daily coronavirus
news conference around 1700 GMT.
"We are working at pace, urgently, to see what further support
we can put in place, particularly around employment support,
looking at some models elsewhere and looking at what model might
work best for workers here today," Sunak told lawmakers in
parliament's Treasury Committee on Wednesday.
John McDonnell, the opposition Labour Party's finance spokesman,
said Sunak was acting too slowly to keep people in jobs and said
the government should pay the wages of workers at risk of
The Resolution Foundation think tank estimates it would cost
about 8 billion pounds to keep one million workers on two-thirds
of their normal pay for six months, while raising Britain's
fairly meager unemployment benefits more broadly would cost a
further 10 billion pounds a year.
Last week Sunak, 39, set out budget plans which included a 30
billion-pound stimulus. This has been rapidly overtaken by the
coronavirus's spread and the government's decision to tell the
public to avoid bars, restaurants and other gatherings.
On Tuesday, Sunak announced 330 billion pounds ($388 billion)of
loan guarantees for business and 20 billion pounds of aid for
the worst-hit firms. But these measures failed to restore
confidence in the world's fifth-biggest economy.
The pound crashed to its lowest level against the dollar in 35
years on Wednesday and British government bond prices plunged as
scores of companies, big and small, said they would need to cut
jobs to survive.
These factors spurred the Bank of England into cutting interest
rates to 0.1% on Thursday and unleashing an extra 200 billion
pounds of bond purchases.
Asked on a BBC panel show what Sunak would announce on Friday,
health minister Matt Hancock said: "All I can say is mark my
words -- we are going to do everything we can to keep people
supported at times like this."
(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan and David Milliken;
Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Peter Graff)
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