Post Covid? Well for goodness’ sake, let’s get moving!
Leaving the EU, Covid, Lockdown, Recession, Demise of the High Street, this shop closed, that bar closed, back to school, or not back to school etc., etc., all topics that have suffocated normal thinking over the last two to three years. Personally, I am sick of it, as I believe may are!
The time has come for us all to adopt a much more positive approach, look forward, and simply get on with life! Apart from the unfortunate effect of the recent virus and consequential social factors, which I do not deny, at the end of the day, as it has always been said: “It is all about the economy stupid….!
So, what do we do to get UK plc going? The government has to undertake some serious thinking on this topic, and here are just a few suggestions:
- Don’t raise taxes
In all my years I have seen successive governments always raise taxes when faced with a recession. I say don’t! One of the main internal economic causes of any recession is the lack of spending. Leave the consumer’s pocket alone. Let the average Brit spend. Cut VAT, cut air travel duty, cut insurance tax, allow parking in the local High Street without having to pay, cut retail outlets’ local business taxes etc., etc. Make a real change from the usual failed dogma! If people have money in their pockets, particularly after spending 12 months under lockdown, they will want to venture out, and spend. Let them do it! Higher income tax, VAT, Capital Gains, Stamp Duty and so on, are not going to inspire confidence to both the internal consumer, and the external investor.
So how do we pay back all the Government Debt that has arisen due to Covid, I hear you ask?
Increased spending with increased demand will generate the tax revenue required at current tax levels to repay this debt. Admittedly it will take a few years; but let’s start now and create a positive mind-set for business and the consumer, in order to go out and spend and “consume!” Is it really “fairy-tale” economics to say; increased demand brought about by increased consumer expenditure, will encourage an increase in production to meet this rise in market demand? I don’t think so. Providing of course that there is the man-power and economic capacity to meet the required increase level of output. More consumer expenditure met by the equivalent increase in production (ideally homemade) will result in greater revenue to the Treasury.
- Deregulate and Incentivise
The commercial offerings in particular within the banking, payments, and financial services arena are now sophisticated and complicated due to the growth and use of new technologies and innovative products; so much so that one cannot move without the regulator overseeing what one is doing!
It is understandable that such oversight is clearly required in certain circumstances, given the recent financial crisis. But rather than simply regulate, the regulator should seek to assist, advise and help many of the existing industries and participating entities, rather than say: “Do this by such and such a date;” given they never appear to explain to individual entities or the industry concerned, how to meet these requirements. It all appears as a sort of: “Do as I say, and not as I do!” I am not sure that such an approach is very effective!
Business and industry are full to the brim with due diligence, compliance, and regulatory needs, to the point that the time and cost of adhering to these demands, is a real burden and cost to all across the supply chain.
I advocate that we deregulate now. If we do not, consider how will new businesses develop and be encouraged to grow, in particular those that will replace the pre-Covid era businesses whom have fallen by the way-side, if their initial costs are to the regulator, and not to addressing the actual business start-up costs per se.
In addition; no doubt the “new normal” will allow for continued “virtual” working. Nevertheless, many businesses and employees will want to revert to working in their former offices and pre-Covid environments. In my view, the office is not dead yet! Employees have missed being part of the work and professional team (in the office), together with accompanying physical human interaction. However, due to Covid, much office space is now lying empty. What can the government do for example to encourage landlords to reduce rentals, and any current property taxes on office leaseholds? A lot I imagine. As regards those offices that cannot be filled in the short term, what about landlords providing accommodation for those that have lost their jobs and homes due to Covid, and have encountered all manner of hardship, by offering preferential terms to such families through the utilisation of this same vacant office space? What can the government do here to encourage landlords to undertake a more altruistic approach, over say a mutually agreeable time period/
- Make the road ahead clear
The economy and the country need clarity and certainty. The commercial and financial road ahead must be free from confusion and ambiguity. For example; can an employer request an employee to come back to work if they have not yet had the vaccination to combat the current virus? Perhaps the employee is about to have the vaccination, but at the time of the employer’s request, has not. What does this mean exactly? Does the employer have to now wait until the employee has had the vaccination; and if so, do we need a “vaccination passport” as proof in such circumstances? Can we now mix and inter-mingle as before? Will the population still have to wear masks in public, and so on.
There are clearly many unanswered questions that the government needs to address urgently for the country to move on. These are just a few ideas to get us all thinking and moving now. There of course many more considerations. However, here is a good beginning. So, stop taking about it, and for goodness’ sake, let just get going and do it!
Let me ask you all. What do you think? How do you think we should move forward? What in your opinion are the key initiatives that need to be implemented to aid recovery? Share your views with me at the email address below; and join The Payments Business (www.thepaymentsbusiness.com) and contribute to the debate, to our membership, and the wider industry through your valuable input.
Eliot Charles Heilpern, Membership Director
The Payments Business (www.thepaymentsbusiness.com)