The impact of Covid on the economy at a time where 5% of the working population is now unemployed cannot be underestimated. Some 202,000 people are now reported to have lost their jobs in the run up to Christmas.
Record numbers are now claiming benefit to offset smaller pay packets that furlough has brought them. Small businesses shutdowns because they are deemed unessential, are also not immune to the negative effects of the pandemic and rising costs of keeping going.
One factor that is coming to the fore during this winter period is the rising numbers of ‘fuel poverty’.
A study showing home workers may pay £28 – 45 a month in extra energy costs makes “grim reading”, campaigners have said. A midlands University team said those in England’s 600,000 un-insulated properties faced the biggest rise.
A worrying aspect of fuel poverty aside from the financial implications is health of those affected. An additional concern of fuel poverty is that Covid may be exacerbated by cold, damp homes where people are trying to economise. Fuel poverty can make respiratory illnesses worse, of which Covid is one.
At the time of writing, government, utilities and Citizens Advice are trying to ensure people are protected during lockdown. That’s all well and good until at such time when the pandemic hopefully clears. Can people expect payment plans made easy? Or maybe loans made easier to cover existing debt exasperated by Covid? Energy providers are going to have to do their bit and cut their costs.
But all of this is not enough if you consider that the government eventually went into overdrive and increased quantative easing. Where is all this money coming from that the government is borrowing to fund the effects of Covid? Globally, trillions are been made available.
The best thing that could happen is that all Covid related debt should be cancelled. What a great boost to people’s mental health such a move would achieve. What price would you put on that?