THE Chancellor has announced plans to throw £30billion at stimulating the economy to cope with the coronavirus.

In his first budget after just four weeks in the job Rishi Sunak unveiled business rate cuts and changes to sick pay to self-employed people if they contract the virus.

Mr Sunak said: “We are doing everything we can to keep people healthy and financially secure.”

He said that as many as one in five people could be off work due to coronavirus hours before the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a global pandemic.

He said it would affect productivity and lead to a reduction in consumer spending and the package of measures in place amounted to £7bn.

The Government will fully meet the cost of providing statutory sick pay for up to 14 days for workers in firms with up to 250 employees, providing over £2 billion for up to two million businesses.

It included cash for the NHS to expand services if needed, A £500m hardship fund for the welfare state and business rates relief for the hospitality sector.

He said the measures, many for England would result in £640mn for the Scottish Government.

There is to be a freeze on fuel duty and on beer, wine and spirits.

And from December 1 VAT on digital publications, including subscriptions to online newspapers would be abolished, ending the “reading tax”.

Opposition leaders said the cash did not make up for the last ten years of cuts

SNP Westminster leader, Ian Blackford said: “The Chancellor today had an opportunity to address and reverse a decade of decline and austerity that his government has presided over - he failed to do so. Instead, the Tories’ economic agenda was merely a sticking plaster.

“If the Chancellor believes that this Budget ‘levels up’ after a decade of austerity and assault on people’s livelihoods, then he is wrong. After inflicting years of cruel and deep cuts, the Tories are offering more of the same while ushering in a new era of political and economic isolation outside the EU.

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, said: “Today’s measures go nowhere near reversing the damage that has been done to our country.”

Anti-Poverty campaigners warned permanent measures were needed to help people with low incomes and rising costs.

,John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:“The new Coronavirus emergency measures are welcome but low-income families need support in health and in sickness. When it comes to longer-term priorities, action on poverty must be the priority. We need to properly re-invest in our social infrastructure.

“Universal credit continues to cause havoc for millions so it is disappointing that the Chancellor brought no substantial permanent reforms to the table today.”