Daily View 2×2: 9 June 2020

2 big stories

New Zealand appears to have dealt with Covid-19, with no new instances and the last case having been cleared. Clear messaging, early action and a community spirit has proved to be most effective, which perhaps puts the UK Government’s efforts into perspective.

Meanwhile, the dash away from science continues as far as Matt Hancock is concerned, with key measures dropped or downplayed in the haste to reopen the economy. The key question is, if you open things up, and people decide that they’d rather not take the risk, is more damage done to, say, the hospitality sector, by obliging pubs, cafes and restaurants to open without sufficient customers to be viable?

There are some interesting statistics on household finances coming out. Credit card debt was paid off at the highest rate ever in April – a £7.4 billion net repayment, whilst household bank deposits increased by three times the normal rate at £16.2 billion. Stripping out the cost of commuting, and with some discretionary spending on eating out, tourism and shopping effectively ruled out, you can see just how some people might be better off, even if furloughed.

However, for those whose income is drastically reduced – the newly self-employed, those who have lost their jobs, or who can’t be furloughed, it’s a very different story

StepChange said that since the beginning of lockdown in late March, as many as 1.2 million people had fallen behind on utility bill payments, 820,000 people on council tax, and 590,000 on rent. Around 4.2 million people had borrowed to make ends meet, mostly by using a credit card, overdraft or a high-cost product such as a payday loan.

2 social media posts

Matthew Taylor brings us an interesting story which perhaps explains something about the influential, yet reclusive, groups who still have influence in our major cities…

And, finally, I’m going to do something that I won’t be making a habit of, but bring you a story of the Conservative councillor here in Suffolk that didn’t get away…

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4 Comments

  • John Marriott 9th Jun '20 - 8:53am

    New Zealand is a small country in terms of population (but not counting sheep). They locked down early and are still not allowing people in, or at least that’s the official version. For how long can that policy be sustained?

    I wish some people would stop trying to turn the whole Covid affair into a competition for a prize that nobody would surely want to take home. We are here and they are there. Yes, we could learn from what other countries are doing, or not doing in the case of the USA and Brazil, and probably Russia if Putin ever allowed the true figures to be published. You could probably add China and India to that list as well.

    From where I sit (semi isolated because of my age with face mask, gloves and wipes at the ready for when I emerge occasionally to do a bit of essential shopping) we appear to have a choice between playing safe and eliminating infection or opening up to save what’s left of our economy – even less if we crash out of the EU without a deal. It’s getting the balance right that’s really tough. That vaccine can’t come soon enough, if it comes at all.

  • I understand we have been using Brexit reserve stocks to keep the country growing.As you say these will have to be replaced but demand will be high from all countries leading to shortages and HIGHER PRICES . Yes if Brexit is going to work we need that transition. If not we will be getting out of one lot of chaos just to be replaced by another.

  • John Marriott
    I think comparing how the UK govt has done during the Covid 19 pandemic with other countries is entirely valid and useful. On a list of countries by population NZ is about half way down, right next to Ireland. NZ is in fact similar to the UK in many ways (I moved from there to here 35 years ago but visit regularly). I’d venture that never before have we had the opportunity to see how different countries respond and cope with the same problem. Several people have pointed out that countries such as NZ and Germany have had better responses than others and this may be partly due to having woman leaders. I’d go a step further and suggest it says something also about voters being ok with woman leaders and the kind of electoral system (both Mixed Member Proportional). Rather than the hackneyed reference to sheep (NZ has changed a lot in the 35 years I’ve been away) perhaps a rugby metaphor is more appropriate: Go early. go hard! This is what NZ’s PM did re Covid 19. She attended the meetings, she read the briefing papers and she took the actions (lockdown and proper quarantine etc) that any country could have done in early March but which, sadly, the UK govt didn’t.

  • Phil Beesley 9th Jun '20 - 3:40pm

    Mark V: “The key question is, if you open things up, and people decide that they’d rather not take the risk, is more damage done to, say, the hospitality sector, by obliging pubs, cafes and restaurants to open without sufficient customers to be viable?”

    That isn’t the key question. The key is whether HM Gov has a plan for entanglements and it doesn’t.

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