Today the UK declared the closure of cafes, pubs, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres. And to help the employees of the affected industries the Chancellor of the Exchequer – Rishi Sunak – announced that the government will pay 80% of their salary for the foreseeable future so that they neither lose their jobs or struggle too much financially. It’s a bold and expensive move that will cost the taxpayer hundreds of billions of pounds and take decades to pay off. But I think it’s the right move.
And after watching the press conference for these announcements I turned to my Mum and said that Rishi Sunak is the only high-level UK politician currently responding appropriately and sensibly during the coronavirus crisis. James Kirkup of the Spectator agrees:
In some ways, it’s easy and even important to keep Rishi Sunak’s performance in announcing his coronavirus job retention scheme in perspective. It should, after all, be pretty easy to be popular in politics when you are offering to spend literally limitless amounts of money protecting people from economic hardship. […]
But even taking those things into account, I still consider Sunak’s performance one of the most impressive I’ve seen from a British politician in more than 20 years in and around Westminster.
With so many governments helping out their citizens finanically at the moment universal basic income (UBI) has appeared in the news several times. I’m still unconvinced by some of the maths and theory behind UBI but I do wonder if the coronavirus crisis will be the catalyst for more UBI adoption worldwide in the same way that the catalyst for the UK’s universal health care – the NHS – was World War II.