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Some workers want this amount of money whilst others want more. But our needs are the same and government support is favoring some over others when we should all be getting exactly the same – not just in money but also support

April 12, 2020 1 comment

If you dare to look at the headlines or glance across the editorial of any of the national newspapers that might be worth reading, you will see today that there is talk within Government of there being Ministers who are doves and others that are hawks.

The growing argument between them is the subject of when the COVID-19 Lockdown should end. The so-called Hawks want the Lockdown to begin to end at the beginning of May, whilst the so-called doves want to wait until the Whitsun Bank Holiday at the end of May before even a loosening of the current restrictions can be allowed to begin.

When you have been writing about the massive holes and inadequacy of the financial support that the Government is providing since the Lockdown began like I have, as well as questioning the cost of the Lockdown vs. the benefit too, you might think it would be natural for me to be happy that at least some of our MPs are looking at all of this in the same way too.

I’m not. And the problem is that they are not even in the same room.

Whilst certain Ministers are clearly aware of some of the issues already being caused by the Lockdown – as they are being flagged by Civil Servants within their Ministries, they are not aware of others whilst many MPs are clearly unaware at any meaningful level of the real crisis that has been started by the Lockdown.

A personal and costly disaster is now starting to unfold in front of more and more of the people just like you and I and it is going to slowly but surely soon come into full view.

We have been conditioned to think and view certain behaviours as acceptable by the world around us. The behaviour of self-serving politicians, an Establishment that cares not for anyone other than its own, and a media that is so obsessed with the sound of its own voice have all contributed significantly to the selfish approach to life that we have which we don’t recognise as being wholly self serving – because right now its just the ways that life tells us things should be done.

As we look at the Locked-down COVID-19 UK, our thoughts will inevitably be about how the Lockdown is effecting us personally and the people around us, whether it is our jobs, source of income, the business we own and operate or any one of the large number of ways that each and every one of us has had our life affected or compromised in some way since life as we knew it changed in March and the Lockdown got under way.

No, it isn’t wrong to think about any of this chapter of our lives in this way. But as we fall over ourselves to shout about treating gig-economy workers the same as employees or to sign petitions to specifically tell the Government that we want directors of small limited companies to receive the same money as if they were an employee, we are collectively falling into the trap of thinking that different help and support for different people based purely on how differently they are employed will equate to the same thing. It won’t.

What we are overlooking is that all people share something very distinctive in common that makes us all the same. We all have regular bills that we need our incomes to pay and  the amount we pay is relative to what we normally earn.

It doesn’t matter what they are or how much those bills are for. Whether you are young, a Millennial, middle aged, retired or very old, there will be bills that you have to pay or have paid on your behalf.

Beyond the fact that we are human beings who live and die, what we all have in common is our shared reality that we always have to pay a bill each month and in some cases many of them. That’s how we are all the same.

If we were to genuinely be treated the same by the Government and a situation were to never to exist where any individual, social group of business sector were to fall through the gaps, the Government would by necessity be targeting the help they can give at us all in a way that was proportional to what we earn or the situation that we are in – but in a way that would actually treat us all fairly because it would support and help us in the very same way.

The very same rules apply for businesses and business owners whether they are limited companies or sole traders too.

For us all, the flow of money into and out of our bank accounts is what makes life turnover. And for business – who in this sense are exactly the same as people, cash flow is king – unless of course you are the bank or finance house which creates all the money and to where all the money we pay out in the form of each and every bill we pay will ultimately flow to and end up.

We pay our bills to a service provider or company that has provided us with goods or the finance to do it. It might be a mortgage, rent, for a car, our phone, TV, electricity and gas or many other things that we might either want or need.

The company, person or business to whom we pay that bill and the money we use to do it will be in exactly the same position as you and I are. What we pay them is their income, just like our job or business is ours. From all the combined income they receive, they too have to pay their bills.

In many cases, this payment of different bills and transfer of money happens over and over again at different levels in what might be a very long chain, until the flow of the money ends up in the same place: the banks and finance houses.

If the Government really desires to treat us ALL exactly the same as it should – that’s equitably and in a way that is completely fair – it would temporarily stop the need and requirement for that money to continue to flow where the chain is no longer complete or simply has no start, so that none of us have to earn anything at any level or any stage of that chain to keep paying bills to the people, businesses or companies that are in the next link of the chain above us.

With the need removed to pay our bills for items that we wouldn’t order or commit ourselves to having during a time that we couldn’t afford to or would be willing pay for because they are a luxury and not a necessity, the only problem for the Government would then be a question of how people pay for food and essential items that we simply need to meet our real everyday needs – not our ‘wants’.

If the Government did this, it would create a genuine level playing field in a time of National Crisis that would benefit us all.

Stopping the need for monetary flow would significantly reduce the chances that businesses will not reopen and that more and more people will lose their jobs and income permanently once the Lockdown actually comes to its end.

Be under no illusion. This action would prevent misery for many and save a significant number of lives.

Without a universal financial support solution of this depth and breadth in place to counter the effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown, the problems and very challenging life experiences that many people would not have been suffering before it began, are going to get much worse. The impact of what the Government hasn’t done will affect more and more of us as the length of the Lockdown rolls on.

The Government should End the Lockdown right now. But if it refuses to do so, it must at the very least change direction with the financial support that it is giving all of us and do it right away.

  • Job losses
  • Suicides
  • Hunger
  • Business Closures
  • Evictions from homes
  • Administrations
  • Domestic Violence
  • Abuse and safeguarding issues
  • Debt
  • Insolvencies
  • Repossessions
  • Loss of custom and business
  • Debt and borrowing
  • Bankruptcies
  • Mental Health issues
  • Depression

And the issues that are the cause of any or all of these horrific life experiences are already on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown.

No considerate and caring person would ever wish any of these experiences upon another human being. But the Government’s decision to implement the Lockdown, then failing to treat us all in the same way will ensure that a rise in these real-life horror stories is exactly what the UK is going to get.

No matter what the Media messages tell you or how unpopular TV presenters and Journalists may insist that the alternative to what the Government is doing will be, the Government MUST change direction and handle COVID-19 differently by bringing the Lockdown to a decisive end as soon as it possibly can.

If the Lockdown continues for any further time at all or not, the current system of financial support that the Government has issued doesn’t work as it should. It is creating many problems for individuals that not only include those mentioned or referred to above, but will in time be known to have caused many more whilst creating a national financial crisis and the accompanying personal hardship that none of us alive today will consciously remember having ever seen.

These wholly inadequate measures MUST be removed and replaced with a system that ends the requirement to pay bills for anything that has not been ordered or committed to during the Lockdown – with the exception of things like car insurance if you are continuing to use your car.

Despite the complication of doing so, the system should also be backdated to the start of the Lockdown (at least 23rd March 2020) and those who have been paid some or all of the £2500 per month average wage equivalent excluded from any weekly essential goods and food payment scheme until the equivalent of what they have already been paid through the current payments system from the start has been reached.

A £100 per week payment per person is enough for food and essential items for those who have lost all their income, have been furloughed or are not being paid during or as a direct result of the Lockdown.

Everyone who has been able to continue to work is doing a great thing to keep the Country moving when everyone else cannot. For them, having their bills stopped would be a payment holiday nonetheless. It would therefore be a financial bonus for doing their bit that would be fair and acceptable both to them and to all.

The damage that the Lockdown has already done to lives and businesses is already on target to be very severe indeed. But the cost of the Government failing to treat us all equally and in the same way will be catastrophic for us all.

Beyond a financial depression that is likely to be worse than the Great Depression of nearly a Century ago, the patience upon which civil order sits is already painfully thin, and the moves by the Police and even Supermarkets to behave like we have already become a police state does not bode well for the future of the UK if the Lockdown continues or continues without meaningful change to the system of financial support that is currently in place.

The lack of care and consideration for the impact of this Lockdown that has been driven by the advice of medical specialists, and measures to counter the impact that have simply not been thought through tell us that there is already a vacuum or absence of leadership at the top of the Government. This absence will help even less if that wafer thin patience is broken and the leadership void could easily be filled by alternative leaders who would happily expand and assert that police state deliberately.

Please don’t allow this to happen whilst we still have influence and a choice.

Let’s join together and tell the Government that the measures they have been taking aren’t helping us all in the same way that they would if they were fair.

Let’s also join together and tell the Government that its time to End the Lockdown now and treat everyone like we have the same value, whether or not we get talked about a lot on TV!

 

 

 

 

Why it’s time to end the Lockdown & how to let life resume and face whatever happens next

April 6, 2020 8 comments

img_551713 days into this brave new world and you can see that the novelty of the Lockdown and social distancing is beginning to wear thin.

A week from now, the news that 3 weeks of this was just the start of something much longer will be beginning to sink in.

But by then the pain will already be less about being kept inside our homes. It will be more about how people can continue to live and the question of how businesses will survive an indefinite Lockdown, just so they can get to the end of the Lockdown and still exist.

There is a disaster unfolding behind the media coverage and focus on equipping and preparing the NHS to treat a significant number of critical-case Coronavirus Patients.

This real crisis is much bigger than many could comprehend, even if it was something that they could now visibly see.

Already there are businesses that have closed for the Lockdown that will never reopen. Others will close as the Lockdown continues. Some will survive until it is clear they cannot service a growing mountain of debt that accumulates daily, simply because the Government did not think through the implications of what a full Lockdown would mean on so much of our business sector and industry.

The Government has simply failed to comprehend how businesses and the people who own and run them need to be supported so that they will be there to provide services, products and employment for the many others who will need them when the time comes to restart.

Yet to hear the media and read the non-stop commentary wherever you look, the only game in town is ‘Protecting the NHS’.

Don’t get me wrong, we need the NHS to be fully equipped and ready to do the best for people that it can. But with Field Hospitals like the London Nightingale now open and others around the Country clearly earmarked for opening very soon, the political focus needs to move swiftly to the unseen crisis that is beginning to evolve across our Country.

The hard truth is that deaths that will sooner or later become inevitable anyway should really be a lower level priority against what is now set to become a very extensive list of problems that people attempting to live their lives are having to or soon will have to face.

It feels very unpalatable to even think, let alone say that you have to accept and be prepared to let some people die, so that the majority of others can continue to live.

The problem is that it is also the truth.

The Government has backed itself into a corner by implementing the Lockdown. There is no risk-free way out.

Coronavirus Testing will be too slow to be any help in reducing the time it will take to try and manage the process of infection for the whole population.

Using tools such as Immunity Certificates would create massive social problems – if the Government then used the force that would be necessary to keep people who haven’t had Coronavirus at home – which is what they would have to do if they let those who have had it are able to have lives and everyone else does everything they can to catch it, so they can do the same too.

Whilst no politician wants to hear it said of them that they deliberately let people die when some of them could be saved, the harsh reality is that if we are to get out of this Crisis and the Coronavirus Pandemic in the best shape possible, we must all accept that in the world we live in, a life isn’t life if a person cannot actually live.

It is difficult for some to understand this, because in the form of the personal tragedies that we see rolled out continually on TV and the stories of he NHS in crisis that we hear daily, Coronavirus has given the intrinsic fear of death that we all share both a face and a name. It has taken on a very visual and highly emotive form.

The reality is that people are going to die from Coronavirus with or without the Lockdown and it would be much healthier for people, the whole Country and our economy if the Lockdown was ended and we got life restarted as quickly as possible and then dealt with each case of Coronavirus and its respective knock-on effects as we go along.

The genuinely vulnerable members of our society who are likely to be most at risk will continue to be at the same level of risk until a vaccine has been identified, tested and administered to them.

The time that it would take as a minimum to vaccinate everyone – given what will be a worldwide demand – will simply be too long for any civilized Country to wait for whilst keeping a shutdown in place.

Our high-profile Politicians like to talk up the Crisis as if it is like fighting a war. In the Second World War when Campaigns such as Operation Overlord and the D-Day Landings were planned, Prime Ministers, Presidents and the advising Generals around them literally worked out how many lives they would have to sacrifice on the battlefield to get the job done, so that the wider populations of their Countries and the World itself would win the fight against oppression in the end.

Such responsibility and leadership in strategic thinking is required of the leaders that we have now. The Politicians have talked the talk to win power. Now they must walk the walk to enact that power and see this through.

The implications of the Lockdown would not have been nearly so bad, had the Government taken an even handed and fair approach to mitigating the impact of the imposed standstill on workers of every kind and businesses alike.

But they didn’t, and this means that how the end of the Lockdown and the restart of life is managed must take into consideration where things are right now and where they will be rather than where they were before it started, because this whole situation is evolving each and every day.

It’s time for the Lockdown to end now. It’s time for life to restart.

There is no perfect way to plan the fight against Coronavirus, or to put together a strategy for ending the Lockdown, letting life restart and managing cases of Coronavirus either now or thereafter. There are simply too many unknowns and variables within what is a live and evolving Crisis for that ever to be the way.

However, we can ask that the Politicians do their best, and in terms of ending the Lockdown now and getting life back on track, these are some of the key things that they can now do.

Notification of Coronavirus Symptoms

Perhaps the key factor or source of information that the Government needs going forward, is clear and decisive record of who has experienced Coronavirus Symptoms – even if no medical intervention has been involved.

  • Upon first experiencing Coronavirus Symptoms, individuals should be able to Register using their individual identification data on the Government Portal.
  • This responsibility to register would become that of parents, carers and guardians for children and vulnerable people
  • Nobody should be able to claim Coronavirus Sickness Benefit without having registered first.
  • In the first instance and until such time as it is confirmed whether Symptoms of Coronavirus could be suffered more than once, individuals would be able to claim only once,
  • The data can then be used to distribute the Coronavirus Antibody Test once it is universally available and thereby technically available to all
  • On completion of registration, the Government Portal should allocate a unique reference number for every individual to use to claim benefits such as Coronavirus Sick Pay and payment holidays

The NHS

It will remain essential to keep resources flowing towards the NHS so that it can manage the critical stages of the Coronavirus related illness that some people will inevitable suffer – just as they are now.

Field Hospitals, Intensive Care Units, Ventilator numbers and the recruitment rate of staff will have to continue to rise until the natural infection rate and the number of people it will effect critically at any particular time has been reached.

This will not be long once the restart has begun. But there is likely to be a period of time where it doesn’t look like the NHS can cope and numbers of people are dying who might have been saved, had more resources been in place.

‘Protect the NHS’ is the Trojan horse argument that led to the shutdown as the chosen way to attempt to manage demand in the first place. It’s where the Government went fundamentally wrong.

  • Local Trusts should set up Designated Reception Centres, separate to GP Surgeries and Hospital Reception areas used for other purposes
  • Local dedicated helplines should be provided to field calls from those with symptoms
  • Dedicated Ambulance provision should be put in place for Coronavirus sufferers
  • The general emergency Ambulance fleet should be kept separate.
  • Serious consideration should be given to requiring benefits claimants to report for duty as healthcare assistants, with full pay, work and training options to be offered after a qualifying or probationary period.

The Restart itself

The way to lift the shutdown isn’t to try and overcomplicate things by using terms such as calling it ‘gradual’ or ‘taking things in steps’, or anything else that even hints at there being some form of managed delay.

Whilst we might all like to think that the world as we knew it before March could just be switched back on at 9am on Monday morning it won’t happen no matter what we do. The time it will take those businesses still operating to return to full operation will take a lot longer than it took them to shut down. That is before you take into consideration the natural trepidation that many people are going to have as a result of the negativity and scaremongering that has taken place on the part of the media.

Even now, barely a fortnight in to the Lockdown, things will have changed markedly and they will continue to do so each and every day until the new norm for life begins.

People and businesses are going to work differently, travel differently and think differently. So the resumption of participating in everyday life will take time under its own steam, without anyone or anything else being involved.

Social Distancing

Social distancing in areas where people are usually in close proximity will be a good measure to retain formally, even though people are likely to keep their distance for some time as it has already become an accepted part of life.

Even if social distancing plays no further active part in dealing with Coronavirus – given that there are very recent suggestions that the Virus can remain active in air for up to three hours – it will help address any social awkwardness that will exist for some people once the Media’s negative messaging campaign is over and done.

Sick Pay

  • Everyone working who has unable to work because they have caught Coronavirus should be able to rely on having Coronavirus Sick Pay
  • The Sick Pay should last a calendar month from the date of registration
  • There should not be a laborious process of application involving claims for Universal Credit or applications via Jobcentres or the DWP.
  • The Coronavirus sick pay should be claimed on behalf of employees by employers and paid as part of the monthly PAYE process
  • The self employed and/or contract workers should be able to claim their sick pay back as part of their next Annual Tax Return.
  • The reference number allocated at registration should be used by employers for PAYE purposes and on individual Tax Returns.

People

Fundamentally, it is essential that every member of the population is treated like an adult, trusted to do the right thing and given no excuse to do otherwise. To support everyone, the Government must ensure that all practical issues people may experience if and when they suffer with Coronavirus has been mitigated against adequately and given added value as an incentive too.

Put simply, if there’s no way people can lose out, they will do the right thing.

  • Any individual, their parent, carer or guardian will register Coronavirus Symptoms using the Government Portal
  • Upon registration, individuals should be required to immediately self-isolate and remain isolated for a minimum of 14 days
  • Upon experiencing escalating symptoms, individuals should report to local NHS designated reception centres or call designated helplines if transport or an ambulance is required
  • All domestic bills, rents, leases, loans, interest and debt repayments to stopped for a month as a ‘Payment Holiday’
  • Individuals to use the reference number provided when they registered with the Government Portal to confirm they are on a legitimate payment holiday with debtors or those they should normally pay.
  • A payment of approx £100 per week to be payable to every individual Registered in the ‘Coronavirus Window’ for a period of four weeks to cover food and essentials

The Vulnerable

  • The vulnerable have to be allowed to make their own decision about the risk, about remaining in isolation, or returning to ‘normal life’. They should not be pressured to go either way.
  • Benefits Claimants without medical conditions and unemployed should be tasked with providing the support currently provided by volunteers.

For Business

  • Businesses of all sizes should be protected from the impact of the Lockdown for the period of time it will take things to return to or find the new normal, once the Lockdown has been lifted.
  • Where necessary support should be applied retrospectively to the 23rdof March 2020, if not the point in time before that when levels of business within marketplaces are recognised as having began to decline in response to the early stages of the Coronavirus Crisis.
  • All businesses should have a 3-6 months ‘payment holiday’ from rents, leases, mortgages, repayments, interest, debt
  • Heavy fines and/or jail terms should be immediately awarded by a District Judge without trial or appeal, to any Creditor, Company, Director or Partner thereof refusing to facilitate the ‘payment holiday’ and/or attempting to recover any related sums using other or additional debt devices or levying additional payments or raising prices relating to that relationship

Funerals

For the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Government should intervene to ensure that the disposal of bodies is facilitated without delay, without price gouging or profiteering and is provided on the basis of a same-level, community service for all.

  • The Government should set a fixed, realistic cost for a ‘standard’ funeral with a transparent minimal fixed margin and no additional payments being made for anything not specified
  • The Government should pay the cost of ALL Funerals at the standard rate for the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Local Authorities should administer the allocation of care of the deceased and funerals to local undertakers on a take-it-in-turns basis
  • Local Authorities should administer payments to undertakers and make them immediately
  • All funerals should be provided on the same basis and not open to change or being ‘upgraded’ by additional payments from families etc
  • Funeral Insurance payouts to either be split with the cost of the standard funeral being returned to the Government and any outstanding balance returned to the family or estate, or simply paid out to the family or estate

The Media

Whilst free society needs a free press, the current approach, lack of ethical standards and reliance on dressing up subjective opinion as news requires that Government take a different approach and one that doesn’t play into the system as it is.

  • The forward briefing, advance copies of Government speeches and embargoed press releases need to stop.
  • Regulation needs to be introduced that requires news to be news, and for the mainstream media to promote the wider concept of the principle of charity in all things, rather than constantly looking for every opportunity to create negative spin.

#endthelockdownnow

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