The austerity years may soon look like a golden era of opulence – The Sun

Rishi’s relief

THE new bailout for 3.8million self-employed people is vital, and staggering in scale — but not without problems.

Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the state will pay 80 per cent of average earnings declared to HMRC, up to a monthly limit of £2,500, is a huge relief for those who were facing bankruptcy.

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It was always clear that cabbies, hairdressers, plumbers and the like needed rescuing like our salaried workers. It was also obvious this one would be trickier, to cover many types of self-employment and guard against fraud.

That said, the delay till June will be borderline impossible for many, even if their handout is backdated to the beginning of this month. We must hope the Chancellor’s other measures — interest-free loans, tax deferrals and Universal Credit access — can tide them over.

We feel for those losing out entirely too. Mr Sunak says workers on over £50,000 are only five per cent of the total. Even so, those earning a fraction above that but now unable to work get nothing. Nor do those new to self-employment.

That is harsh. But many, sadly, will not emerge unscathed from this nightmare.

This package, designed with unions, is generous overall. How long can Britain afford for it to go on? Necessary as these bailouts are, to avoid monstrous job losses like those already seen in the US, they come at an unimaginable cost and may take us decades to recover from.

The austerity years may soon look like a golden era of opulence.

China crisis

IT is neither racist nor unfair to blame China’s communist regime for the spread of this pandemic.

Its people are not at fault. They have suffered terribly too.

But their government downplayed Covid-19 for several fatal weeks. It seized the doctor who blew the whistle.

It tolerated the revolting “wet markets” where viruses flourish. It expelled journalists. It sickeningly tried to shift blame.

Yet we still rely on China for so many of our goods and medicines. That has to change when this catastrophe is over.

And we must rethink letting Huawei, essentially a branch of the Chinese state, build our 5G network.

That dubious decision cannot now stand.

Farmy army

THE flood of NHS volunteers has been admirable and astonishing — but to keep the nation fed our farms need you too.

Without thousands more fruit and veg pickers, crucial crops may be left to rot.

If you’ve been laid off, why not help the national effort and earn some cash in the new “land army”?

The Government, meanwhile, needs to ensure that no one loses out on bailout money if they earn a few extra quid temporarily picking fruit.


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