Spending reviews set out the Government’s plan for much of its expenditure over the following few years. This article summarises the current position in the spending review cycle. It also describes how reviews relate to budgets, which take place more frequently, and to fiscal rules, which set targets for overall government debt and deficit. Finally, it considers the possible impact of coronavirus on these three elements of fiscal policy.

The coronavirus was declared a public health emergency on 30 January 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), only the sixth such emergency since 2009. The declaration followed reports on 31 December 2019 of an unknown virus causing a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in eastern China. The virus was later identified as a new strain of coronavirus (Cov). This House of Lords Library briefing provides information about: the virus, including its spread and impact; what action the WHO and UK Government have taken; and the problem of disinformation in relation to the disease.