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UK Covid vaccine programme to get £1.6bn budget boost

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The UK's coronavirus vaccine rollout will receive a £1.65bn boost to help it meet the target of offering a dose to every adult by July 31, Rishi Sunak will set out in his Budget

The UK's coronavirus vaccine rollout will receive a £1.65bn boost to help it meet the target of offering a dose to every adult by July 31, Rishi Sunak will set out in his Budget

The UK's coronavirus vaccine rollout will receive a £1.65bn boost to help it meet the target of offering a dose to every adult by July 31, Rishi Sunak will set out in his Budget

The UK's coronavirus vaccine rollout will receive a £1.65bn boost to help it meet the target of offering a dose to every adult by July 31, Rishi Sunak will set out in his Budget.

The Chancellor will on Wednesday detail the plan to spend the new cash to aid the programme, which is a key factor in successfully easing lockdown restrictions.

Mr Sunak will also divert £22m to fund a "world first" trial to test if different vaccines can be used together, or if a third dose is effective, the Treasury said.

NHS England has begun inviting 60 to 63-year-olds to book jabs, with nearly 20 million people across the UK having received a vaccine.

Ahead of his Commons speech, Mr Sunak said it is "essential we maintain this momentum".

"Protecting ourselves against the virus means we will be able to lift restrictions, reopen our economy and focus our attention on creating jobs and stimulating growth," he added.

He will also give £33m to improve the ability to respond to new variants and improve vaccine testing, including £5m to create a "library" of Covid-19 jabs.

That cash, like the funding for the vaccine trial, will come from the Vaccine Taskforce's existing budget.

The Government is reviewing whether vaccine passports could be used to prove people's health status before entering venues such as pubs and theatres.

Mr Sunak said the conclusions should come in a "few months' time", as he acknowledged both their potential benefits as well as their challenges.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak is coming under pressure from northern Conservatives to support high streets by permanently reducing business rates for retailers.

Forty-five MPs from the Northern Research Group (NRG) called for an extension of the business rates holiday to be followed by "fundamental reform" after the coronavirus pandemic.

They are demanding that business rates are reduced from about 50% of market rent to around 35% in order to help achieve this.

Ahead of the Budget this week, Mr Sunak announced that pubs, restaurants, shops and other businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic will be boosted by a £5bn grant scheme to help them reopen as the lockdown is eased.

The "restart grants" will be worth up to £6,000 per premises to help non-essential retailers reopen and trade safely, with 450,000 shops expected to be eligible.


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