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Wales' First Minister announces extra £1.1bn to support economy affected by Covid-19

AN EXTRA £1.1 billion will be used to shore up the Welsh economy during the coronavirus pandemic, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced today.

The additional money will be diverted from other purposes, but the Welsh government has so far not said what will be scaled back to free up the funding.

Mr Drakeford announced that, as part of the pledge, a £500 million fund will be made available to support businesses, charities and social enterprises that experience a sharp drop in trading due to the spread of Covid-19.

He pledged to “ensure Welsh public services and Welsh businesses have all that we can offer them.”

The £500m Economic Resilience Fund will be composed of two elements.  

Businesses will be able to request grants from a £400m emergency pot – £10,000 for micro-businesses employing up to nine people, and up to £100,000 for small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 249 staff. Qualifying businesses will be able to apply from next week.

A £100m Development Bank of Wales fund will be created to bolster companies experiencing cash-flow problems, providing loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 at “favourable interest rates.”

Further schemes forming part of the new fund will be announced throughout the week.

The  fund builds on the £1.4bn business-support package announced by the Welsh government on March 18.

Broadcasters were criticised on social media after they cut Mr Drakeford’s speech short. BBC and Sky News live feeds of the announcement  switched to a speech by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and to a breaking news bulletin announcing that Prince Charles had come out of self-isolation a week after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

The BBC and Sky were also criticised for having an English voiceover while Mr Drakeford answered journalists’ questions in Welsh.

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