A few days in 2021, and another lockdown was imposed on its tired population by a major European nation. The right-wing ruling party leader raised hopes for a mass vaccination scheme, but stressed that non-essential businesses and facilities must close in the meantime, and students must learn from home. Not the U.K., nor Germany. Not Boris Johnson, nor Merkel’s Angela. Our overwhelmingly narrow-minded political discourse almost often ignores the fact that much more creative and beneficial steps can be taken by nations somewhat close to ours. One of the first steps revealed this week by Chancellor Merkel was an additional 10 days of leave for parents caring for their children – twice as many for single parents.
This is a modest but valuable move as a policy measure.
It’s smart, like politics.
And as an effort to gain the confidence and acceptance of struggling families of the unavoidable difficulties that will come their way, it is smart. Compare that to the London ministers’ tinny response. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a £ 4 billion package of one-off grants for retail, hotel and leisure firms the day after Johnson’s third lockdown.
If your company does laundry for a big leisure center or provides cafes with crockery, you would have to compete for a share of the much smaller £ 594 million emergency fund than every other company.
All of the new funding is geared at firms, not their employees. The Treasury will wait until its budget in March for something else – better than none.
But it demonstrates no comprehension of how corporations make choices and no recognition of household sacrifices in the U.K. Are producing.
What is happening this week is an epidemic in public health that is already more acute in certain respects than the one that hit Britain last March. The government has put the nation on lockdown to attempt to contain it. In themselves, these two variables all but mean that the UK will slip into another recession.
A variety of firms are watching their cash flow dry up once again right now. For several small and medium-sized businesses, applying for a government loan would be their only way out.
Some will not wait for government help and will absolutely lay off workers or close the shop. These closures and layoffs are partially the responsibility of Mr. Sunak. He can do three things immediately instead of pausing and dodging, as the chancellor has done in this crisis. Second, he can clarify that, at least through the fall speech, support for employees and businesses will continue.
Second, in his advocacy for the self-employed and welfare recipients, he should close the gaping gaps.
And ultimately, one of Europe’s stingiest government health insurance programs should be fixed.
If you do all of that, Mr. Sunak, you may be able to back up your argument that all of us are together in this.