World News

UK to help stricken businesses by easing regulation

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will ease regulations for stricken businesses to help them survive the coronavirus crisis, including simplifying the insolvency system to keep companies trading, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said on Saturday.

“Our overriding objective is to help UK companies which need to undergo a financial rescue or restructuring process to keep trading,” he said.

“These measures will give those firms extra time and space to weather the storm and be ready when the crisis ends, whilst ensuring that creditors get the best return possible in the circumstances.”

Sharma also said he was easing administrative requirements and barriers to the import of personal protective equipment, which healthcare workers on the front line have said is not available in sufficient quantities.

The measures would also help new companies produce and distribute hand sanitizer within a matter of days.

“Applying a common-sense approach to regulation will ensure products are safe and reach the market without any unnecessary delay, getting vital protective equipment such as face masks to frontline staff as quickly as possible,” he said.

“Today’s measures will also reduce the burden on business, giving bosses much-needed breathing space to keep their workers employed and their companies going.”

Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder and chairman of chemical firm INEOS, is helping to tackle the shortage of hand sanitizer.

“These measures will help INEOS as we build two factories in the UK and Germany in under 10 days, to produce and supply substantial quantities of hand sanitizer gel to the NHS (Britain’s National Health Service) for free,” he said.

“INEOS is a company with enormous resources and manufacturing skills. If we can find other ways to help in the coronavirus battle, we are absolutely committed to playing our part.”

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle: Editing by Giles Elgood)