The news that the UK’s national debt is now larger than our economy is not something that sits particularly comfortably.
The last ten years of austerity have within three months been washed away by the tidal wave of borrowing that we have performed to get through this crisis.
Yet, those decisions were essential and right, and they have shown the UK Government to be one of the most generous in the world.
They have also proven that ‘Corbyn Economics’ would never have worked, but that is perhaps an article for another day!
Just consider the fact that across the South West 654,800 people have been furloughed. A further 224,000 have claimed the self-employment income support scheme.
Here, in the constituencies of Torbay and Totnes, a total of 22,600 individuals have been furloughed and 9,300 people have claimed the self-employed income support scheme.
The level of support has certainly proved the Chancellor to be a man of his word when he said he would do, ‘whatever it takes’.
These figures are a stark reminder of the impact of Covid and the mountain of recovery that we will need to climb to restore our economy.
That said it is possible and I welcome the reports that this week the Chancellor will be incentivising the economy with exemptions, deferments and lowering of tax.
This carrot, rather than stick approach, is the best way to set in motion a rapid recovery.
Among those measures expected to be announced are the potential cutting of VAT for a fixed period, extending VAT deferment, cutting employer’s national insurance contribution and extending business rates relief. A comprehensive package that will provide a greater degree of freedom for our businesses and our economy.
However, policies alone cannot rejuvenate our economy.
First, the two-metre rule needs to be reduced. Countries across the world have taken that step already and have not been impacted by a ‘second wave’ of the virus.
It has until now been necessary to have stringent restrictions in place but as we get to grips with the treatment of the virus and can roll out new methods of testing, it is time to review the social distance measures.
Not least because the functioning of any hospitality and tourism business is likely to be hamstrung by the two-metre imposition.
Removing the social distancing rules and providing economic incentives to reopen businesses are a sure start to firing up the economy and helping to ensure that our recovery is as close to ‘V-shaped’ as possible. But it only the start.
Reassurance is required from every part of our community. From local businesses to councillors, MPs and the local health trusts.
A lock-step approach must be formed to encourage people to take notice of the advice and guidance but also to be unafraid of venturing back out to our high streets, shop, pubs and hotels.
Pleasingly, this approach has already been recognised by communities across Devon such as the Devon Economic Recovery Group and Torbay Together.
The wealth of creativity and innovation over this period has been exceptional.
Harnessing and maintaining that momentum will see new businesses and ideas being driven from all corners of the UK.
Encouraging it must be at the forefront of our revival.
The Bay has is already looking at how to restore our allure to start ups and established businesses.
Our location alone is a draw, but we must publicise our offers and help provide the opportunity to create a strong and resilient economy.
Fiscal policy, social distancing, reassurance and harnessing our natural creativity ability are but the first steps on the road to recovery.
We should not be daunted by the news of our debt to GDP ratio but rather look on it as challenge for every region of the UK to play its part in our great recovery.