It's Going to be Very Difficult for the UK to Get Back to Business After COVID-19 Crisis - Academic

CC BY 2.0 / Basher Eyre / Small businesses opposite Peronne Road
Small businesses opposite Peronne Road - Sputnik International
New research from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex has warned that more than 6.5 million jobs could be lost due to the economic fallout from the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. The research comes after speculation about what the economic and political lies ahead for the UK post-quarantine.

With more on this story, Sputnik spoke to Christopher Kirkland, a lecturer in politics at York St Johns University, in this report.

Sputnik: If we look at this warning as well as similar warnings from Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK is set to struggle post-quarantine after the coronavirus has been controlled. What do these warnings represent, politically and economically, and will see a change of economic model in the future because of this?

Christopher Kirkland: I think it's important to contextualise these figures both in the UK but also globally. There's a series of economic predictions and models which are assuming that the Coronavirus is going to have a larger economic impact than say the 2008 great recession or global financial crisis - however, you want to define that.

Bearing in mind it took many countries a long time to recover from that crisis and the debate about the extent to which country recovered from that crisis; we're talking about a largely an unprecedented challenge to the global economy and the UK is obviously no exception to that. It's going to be very difficult to return to business as normal model post-crisis.

Sputnik: Before a decade of austerity in 2010 crisis planning particularly around the threat of a global pandemic was a top priority for past governments before being cut by Cameron and Osbourne after they were elected. In terms of crisis planning but also public spending more generally, how will a new system likely operate? For example, will we see high public spending from Atlee years or a more fiscally responsible approach that we’ve been used to more recently?

Christopher Kirkland: In their manifesto, the Conservatives were quite clear. They wanted to pursue policies of low taxation, relatively low spending, certainly not returning to the spending levels we saw in the late 1990s, early 2000s and I think they'll be able to return to that if they so wish.

There is a question as to what extent the spending that's been announced the investment in the welfare system for example for people who have been made redundant or are out of work during this crisis, there's real questions over the legacy of that whether that's a short term measure purely perceived through the lens of this crisis, or whether this is a long term shift.

I think if we if we look at traditional conservative thought and the actions of Conservative ministers, including ministers in this current government, I think it would be very hard for them to distance themselves from a return to austerity politics essentially.

The door of 10 Downing Street in London as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 6, 2020.  - Sputnik International
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Sputnik: Over the past month we’ve witnessed a lot of change particularly around our day to day lives. Many of us are working from home, children in many cases are being educated from home and we’ve seen things exercise and public spaces appreciated a lot more than perhaps would have been beforehand. Is it likely that these or other actions could remain commonplace after the coronavirus and include in any new system?

Christopher Kirkland: I think one thing that is showing is that more and more jobs can be done remotely and there is a possibility for that to take place - through this will obviously have wider implications in other sectors.

In terms of public spaces, much of the governance of public spaces is done at a local council/a local authority level and the question here will be to what extent is the government willing to fund local councils or local governments to maintain such spaces. We've seen over the last decade or so that local councils have been hit particularly hard through austerity measures and there's not a great scope of money to extend the provision of public spaces through that and through that model if you like.

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