The lockdowns that followed the arrival of Covid-19 in the UK in March 2020, has seen the whole country suffer. From mid 2020 I joined calls for more thought of the impact lockdowns had on people's well being, jobs and business. I supported the Time for Recovery plans, which asked the Government to pledge that it will support Five Reasonable Demands to help the UK’s recovery from Covid-19 and ensure balance in its approach to the crisis:
- Behave with humanity
Curbing the liberty and essential freedoms of large swaths of the population, many of whom will suffer long term consequences, is inhumane. Fear and isolation are killers in themselves. No-one should be barred from a dying parent’s bedside. We ask the Government to pledge that it will always act with humanity.
- Give equal regard to all lives
Scaremongering and the prioritisation of NHS treatment for Covid-19 are costing lives. Thousands will die because screening and treatment for terminal diseases is being postponed or cancelled. We face an addiction timebomb and a mental health crisis. We ask the Government to pledge that its policy on Covid-19 will give equal regard to all lives, allowing for the normal NHS consideration of life-years in its assessments, and remove any restriction immediately if it cannot be proved that it is saving more lives than it costs.
- Hold a comprehensive public inquiry and a balanced public debate
We need to examine every aspect of the response to Covid-19. That includes the huge impact on other aspects of health care, such as cancer; the economic impact and consequent mortality; mental health; and the role of Government and media in stoking fear. We need to hold those responsible for mistakes to account and ensure that they do not happen again, as this will not be the last time we face a threat from an infectious disease. Right now, experts need the freedom to challenge bad policies. We ask the Government to pledge to hold a comprehensive public inquiry and to remove rules which prevent balanced reporting.
- Safeguard all that makes life worth living
We are all used to balancing decisions about quality of life against quantity of life in what we do every day – we do it even when we decide to cross the road. The emergency policies take that out of our hands, saying that quantity of life is the absolute goal and quality of life must be destroyed to achieve it. The reaction to Covid-19 has seen livelihoods ruined, performing arts banned, grandparents told they can’t hug their grandchildren, young people forced to live for months in isolation. We ask the Government to pledge that it will balance the risk from Covid-19 with safeguarding all that makes life worth living.
- Get the economy moving for the sake of our children
There is much talk of choosing between saving lives and a healthy economy, but the truth is that lives depend on a healthy economy. Our children will have to live for decades with the consequences of current policies: how many will be condemned to live in poverty as a result? We’ve mortgaged their future. We can’t afford to do more damage. We ask the Government to pledge that it will not recklessly put the mental health, jobs and futures of the young people of this country at risk.
I also supported the creation of a Covid recovery fund for small business, putting my name to the motion and helping frame it. This has resulted in the creation of at fund for City SME Businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The scheme is designed to support businesses which contribute to the City’s vibrancy at street level and directly provide services to returning City workers, visitors, and residents. The necessary infrastructure for a successful City has been affected by enforced closure or low footfall and this scheme will seek to support those businesses that can evidence, through the grant application process, a likelihood that with support they have a reasonable chance to survive beyond the short term. You can read more about it here - City of London Recovery Grant Fund - City of London
As Chairman of the wholesale food markets for most of the crisis period I supported the work of our traders in donating food, and supporting concessions for those suffering economic hardship so their businesses as our tenants could survive.
The work of recovery from Covid will take some time, but I hope to see the City come back stronger.