Others are still hoping for a big wedding this summer or a long-delayed family reunion. While there are concerns about the Indian variant, the overall data continues to look positive, which should allow the Gates to Freedom to open on June 21. With hospitalizations and Covid deaths both down 97% from their peak, we might consider a celebration of vaccines against the virus. But we must not kid ourselves, this will be good news. As we unlock more, we will be sure to uncover not only our old freedoms, but also the new issues that have formed during the pandemic.
It is estimated that nearly five million people are now on an NHS waiting list, a record number eagerly awaiting treatment.
The National Foundation for Educational Research estimated last winter that the switch from classrooms to Zoom calls resulted in wasted months of learning for disadvantaged students, which could undo a decade of advancing social mobility. . Thousands of students have completely disappeared from the school list.
Meanwhile, a mental health crisis unfolds as stress, loneliness and isolation have taken its toll on a wide range of groups, including teens, hospital workers and residents of nursing homes.
UK institutions were not well placed to deal with many of these issues even before Covid. Obsolete healthcare structures have been deformed for decades. The wait to speak to an NHS therapist takes months, sometimes years to speak to a specialist – even for people with serious illnesses or at risk of self-harm.
The situation is much worse now. From healthcare to housing, the inequalities that existed before the lockdown are only increasingly glaring, with increasing pressure on the government to address it head-on.
But as we have learned over the past year, there are often no easy solutions, only compromises. Recovering from the pandemic is no exception. The state will not be able to provide equal resources or time for all the crises we face today.
Talking about priorities is not very popular, especially in Whitehall. Boris Johnson remains determined to have it all.
The government is adamant that the promises in the party’s 2019 manifesto will be implemented, and is attempting to do so by consolidating the “leveling”, the “green agenda” and the takeover of Covid into one.
It was a difficult start. The Green Home Grant, designed to better insulate homes and install more efficient heating options while simultaneously boosting economic activity, was dropped after just six months.
Still, he’s full steam ahead for big government staples, such as the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November (COP26) and the cash-hungry HS2.
The unlimited spending frenzy undertaken last year has led many politicians, even conservatives, to believe that the cycle of borrowing and spending can go on forever. But news last week that the annual inflation rate doubled to 1.5% in April caught the minds’ attention, a vivid reminder that the favorable terms that allow so much borrowing could change – and quickly. .
Rishi Sunak is preparing for it. The Chancellor downgraded his pre-pandemic public spending plans in the March budget to about £ 4 billion less per year after 2022, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Even Britain’s 70-year high tax burden is not enough to pay for all the projects the government would like to see funded. These decisions come even as he is on the verge of borrowing more than £ 100 billion a year for the foreseeable future and tries to increase his income by increasing corporate taxes and freezing the threshold for personal allowance.
While these compromises are not discussed, they do occur anyway: The Queen’s Speech saw another delay in social care reform. The longer these major policy changes are delayed, the greater the pain – something we can hardly afford after a disastrous year protecting nursing homes.
The sooner we recognize that money and resources are tied to a political hierarchy, we can determine whether government priorities are right and where the private and charitable sectors could step in and provide instead of the state – probably. more efficiently and effectively. way. But if we assume that the state has everything in hand, we expect a rude awakening.
Acknowledging our financial reality is far more difficult than pretending we can do anything – but the country’s most serious needs are far more likely to be met.
• Kate Andrews is The Spectator’s business correspondent