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No promises! Chancellor Rishi Sunak hints he may break Budget rules

Budget beginner: Rishi Sunak talks to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge

THE chancellor has refused to confirm whether he will stick to the fiscal rules set out in the Conservative manifesto when he delivers his first Budget.

Rishi Sunak said he believes ‘very much in the importance of fiscal responsibility’, but he declined to say whether he will adhere to Tory ideals of not borrowing to fund day-to-day spending and ensuring the debt is lower in five years’ time.

Mr Sunak, who has been in office for less than a month, will outline his plan to MPs on Wednesday amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak.

He insisted the government was ready to do whatever is required to deal with the crisis and pledged to give the NHS the resources it needs.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge, Mr Sunak also vowed to give smaller businesses support to weather the outbreak, saying he wants to provide ‘a bridge through a difficult period of difficulty’.

Mr Sunak said that due to ‘very strong management’ over the past ten years he could ‘sit here today and say I will invest what it takes to get us through this because our public finances are in a good spot’. But shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he feared the Budget would not deliver ‘what we need’ for the NHS, as the country faces the triple threat of coronavirus, a public services ‘crisis’ and climate change.

According to the Treasury, Mr Sunak is set to double funding for flood defences to £5.2billion, helping to build 2,000 new flood defence schemes and better protect 336,000 properties over six years.

Other key pledges are likely to include: £643million to help rough sleepers off the streets; up to £100million more per year to fight money laundering; millions more for football pitches in hard-hit communities, and neonatal pay and leave entitlement for parents of sick newborn babies.

£6bn ‘to level up broadband and 4G phones’

A £5BILLION investment to roll out faster broadband across the UK by 2025 is expected to be confirmed by the Chancellor in this week’s Budget.

The Conservatives pledged at the election to bring full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business in Britain within five years.

Rishi Sunak is set to use his first Budget on Wednesday to confirm the move, aimed at benefiting more than five million homes and businesses.

Mr Sunak, who spoke on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, is also expected to announce a £1billion deal with mobile firms to boost 4G, adding coverage to 280,000 premises and 10,000 miles of roads. He said: ‘We are committed to levelling up across every region.’