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What we learned this week: Budget 2020 - Coronavirus edition

13 Mar 2020

13 March 2020

Budget 2020: Chancellor unveils £30bn coronavirus package

But sick pay will not pay for many

OK, so if you’re self-isolating because of Coronavirus you’re unlikely to need a lot of spending money, however you’ll still need to find the money for your rent and bills, and as the TUC pointed out on Wednesday, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is woefully low.

The average worker earns £464 per week, while SSP is just £94.25 per week. This means the average worker will miss out on £369 if on SSP every week. The TUC has also pointed out that the Government still hasn’t announced a plan for the nearly two million workers who miss out on sick pay because they don’t earn enough. They have launched a petition calling for sick pay for all.

Announcements are easy, action is not

Our Chair, Alistair Darling, appeared on ITV’s Peston on Wednesday evening in a Budget special. Asked his opinion on Rishi Sunak’s announcements, he said:

“The easiest thing is to announce these things, the really difficult bit is to actually deliver them. Now, I’ll give you two examples, the Chancellor today made a great show of building a new road past Stonehenge in the south of England. Well, I distinctly remember announcing that 20 years ago and it’s still not built. And equally, he said the time had come for carbon capture and storage – I agree – I announced that 15 years ago and it still hasn’t happened because no one has managed to deliver it technically.”

This applies to so much of the policy landscape. Policy wins are not always translated into practice.

Where will we go when all the shops close?

Shopping isn’t just a necessary function, it’s an opportunity to socialise, to meet others in your community and beat loneliness. However, as shopping moves online, more and more high streets and shopping centres are beginning to close, as well as all the (Covid-19 notwithstanding) opportunities to meet others.

Groningen has a solution. The Dutch city has built a shopping mall with hardly any shops. Described as a ‘part library, part meeting space, part science museum and part recreational hangout – a 10-storey “multi-space”’ designers believe this is the meeting space of the future.

And finally, Coronavirus brings out entrepreneurial spirit

Not sure the Entrepreneurs Relief cut is going to affect this one. The BBC reported that a pupil from Leeds school was sent home after her was caught making money from selling ‘shots’ of hand sanitizer at 50p a pop. He planned to use the profits to buy a £9 kebab. Perhaps a contender for The Apprentice!

Thanks to the following for their tweets this week: @The_TUC, @Summers_AD, @EP_Lawrence, @Peston