Covid-19 has had remarkably divergent effects on people, depending on their status in our society.
At the bottom, more than 600,000 people have lost their jobs:
The number of paid employees in the UK fell by 449,000 between March and April 2020 and early estimates suggest that a further 163,000 people lost their jobs in April.
It is believed that this number would have been much higher if not for the Government’s furlough scheme, and other support measures introduced to help businesses.
But with this scheme due to be wound down from August, it is feared that the UK could yet see a second spike in job losses and a subsequent rise in unemployment.
The data also shows a significant drop in median pay and recent wage growth has been reversed. Early estimates for May suggest that median monthly pay fell by 1.8% to £1,778 and the rate of growth in median pay became negative in April, falling to minus 0.75%.
So more people are unemployed and those who have kept their jobs have endured a drop in pay.
Britain’s billionaires have seen their fortunes soar by £25bn during the coronavirus lockdown – while some are criticised for using millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash to pay wages of the staff in their companies.
New analysis shows 45 of the richest in the UK have seen their Covid-19 pandemic wealth snowballing by 20%.
Analysis shows the collective wealth of Britain’s richest since five days before the coronavirus lockdown at the end of March has risen from £121.57bn to £146.61bn.
It comes as Britain’s economy shrank by a record 20.4% in April as the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown triggered an economic crash three times greater than the 2008 financial crisis.
It seems the secret of their success is to have multiple business interests – and to take advantage of the government’s furlough scheme to get taxpayers to subsidise their payrolls.
The biggest winner, according to a study of Forbes data tracking billionaire wealth, is James Ratcliffe. He’s founder, chairman and majority owner of chemical giant Ineos, with wide North Sea energy interests.
Mr Ratcliffe’s net worth has risen from £8.75bn to £13.83bn. He has taken advantage of the government scheme to furlough almost 800 members of staff from his luxury hotel groups Home Grown and Lime Wood.
Under the scheme the State covers up to 80 per cent of the salaries of staff if companies keep them on the payroll. The payments are capped at £2,500 a month for each employee.
So he continues coining it from his energy firm, with lower outgoings because public money is funding his hotel staff.
Was this the intention?
It’s a valid question.
We were told the furlough scheme was to protect businesses and jobs, and that they would go to the wall without it.
But we see that the people behind the biggest businesses – who are therefore taking the most advantage of the furlough scheme – are raking in astronomical amounts of money.
Meanwhile the rest of us go without, and the national Treasury is emptied, meaning the poorest of us (again) will be told to pay more for the services the richest of us have received.
Nobody should be profiting from a pandemic that has killed nearly 70,000 people.
Perhaps Marcus Rashford should start campaigning for a windfall tax on the UK’s super-rich?
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