CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak has rejected calls to implement a universal basic income during the coronavirus crisis – saying such a move would not be the “right response” to the pandemic.

Ian Blackford was at the front of calls to the UK Government urging them to consider such a policy as many lose their income as a result of the pandemic.

The policy, which involves giving every citizen a regular sum of money regardless of their means, has been adopted by countries like Spain in response to lockdowns impacting on business.

SNP Westminster leader Blackford voiced his concern tonight after Sunak rejected the adoption of such a policy.

He said: “A basic income would make sure nobody is left behind. The sad fact is, measures put in place by the chancellor leave millions without support, that is what is ‘not the right response’. We have crashed the economy to slow the virus, we have a duty to put cash in people’s pockets.”

The decision comes after the Office for Budget Responsibility warned the UK economy could shrink by 35% this spring, with unemployment hitting 10%, because of the virus.

Sunak said the economy would be able to recover “quickly and strongly” once the crisis is over – but acknowledged “this is going to be hard” until then.

At Downing Street’s daily briefing today he hinted at tough decisions being made further down the line.

Asked if the UK Government would be able to pursue its “levelling up” agenda after the crisis is over, he replied: “Once we get through this obviously we will have to take stock of public finances and the economy and make the right decisions at that point and I’ve talked before about doing whatever we need to right the ship at that point.

“But what I would say is we remain very committed to the agenda that we set out before which was about levelling up and spreading opportunity around this country, and indeed I believe this can still be a critical part of how we get back to normal here.”

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