The final cost of this Treasury plan for virus will be colossal, but it is needed to help stop economic collapse

News Letter editorialNews Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
The vast financial package that was unveiled by the chancellor of the exchequer yesterday was both welcome and needed.

This is a massive global crisis over the coronavirus.

It is first a medical crisis, and secondly an economic one.

To see the scale of the medical crisis, you only need to consider a few basic facts.

If the coronavirus spread is halted to a dramatic extent, and only a tiny percentage of the population in a particular society is infected, and then massive restrictions on movements are lifted, then the great bulk of the population will have no immunity and will be vulnerable if so much as one case of the virus begins to start infections again.

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Then the coronavirus could flare up again and the said society will be plunged back into crisis.

No healthcare system in the world will be able to cope with a surge of its population becoming infected in a short period of time.

Disgracefully, the UK’s decision to keep schools open as long as possible, which has significant scientific support, has been depicted as act of callousness or incompetence by bitter political opponents of the UK government, or, as Owen Polley explains opposite, by nationalists who want the UK to split.

Whatever approach is adopted, massive financial consequences will follow.

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Whole swathes of the economy could collapse, with one sector in turn impacting on another.

It is a nightmarish scenario because limitless government support will not be possible.

A range of expensive public projects from HS2 rail to the Northern Ireland legacy structures might simply become unaffordable.

Esmond Birine is right, opposite, to point out that the so-called austerity was not in fact as stringent as it should have been.

The chancellor’s package will cost 14% of GDP, a staggering amount that will add to the UK’s our already high debt levels. The support is crucial. The final cost far from clear.

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