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    Rishi Sunak announces £60m investment to help small businesses

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visits an apprentice training centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) on March 18, 2024 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Carl Recine - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

    Prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday launched measures to help small businesses navigate the weak economy, as he seeks to boost his standing before this year’s general election.

    Sunak, whose Conservatives badly trail the main opposition Labour party in polls, announced £60 million of investment to slash red tape and create 20,000 apprenticeships.

    “This government is sticking to the plan and leaving no stone unturned to make the UK the best place to do business,” Sunak told a business conference in central England.

    “Taken together, these measures will unlock a tidal wave of opportunity and make a real difference to businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.”

    The prime minister said that from next month, the government will pay full apprenticeship costs for small and medium-sized enterprises.

    The scheme seeks to boost professional job opportunities for workers aged under 21 years and save about £150 million per year for SMEs, Sunak added.

    It comes as the prime minister faces speculation over a plot within his Conservative party to unseat him before the election.

    While Britain officially remains in recession, recent official data showed that the economy eked out slender growth in January.

    But at 4 per cent, British annual inflation remains double the Bank of England’s target rate.

    “Inflation is falling fast,” Sunak said Monday.

    “There is more that we need to do,” he said ahead of fresh consumer-price data due Wednesday.

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