This year will be remembered for the destruction Coronavirus has caused to our lives, especially the 79,000 who died from the virus. We have had to change the way we work and communicate. One of the greatest costs has been the restrictions on civil liberties in peacetime. We now wear face masks and socially distance. Schools have been closed and pupils now learn part of the time remotely and in some areas of the country, attendance has been below 80%. There are nearly 1.5 million patients waiting more than six months from appointment to referral for hospital treatment. The criminal court backlog has grown significantly and mental health amongst all elements in our population has worsened.
Economically, the country has been devastated and sectors such as hospitality, travel, the Arts and high street retail hit hardest. The number of people claiming Universal Credit has doubled to 5.7 million people. For many business owners, 2020 has been the worst of the worst years, and the UK economy is expected to shrink by 11.3% this year and not return to its pre-Covid size until the end of 2022. Government borrowing will rise to its highest outside of wartime to deal with the economic impact.
A “No Deal” Brexit will have a further negative impact on the economy in early 2021 and any recovery will take longer as a result. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) predict the UK won’t get back to its pre-pandemic level until the end of 2022 and if there is “No Deal” this could take up to 2024.
We are “Where we are”
The pandemic happened and now is not the time to reflect how it happened or judge how it was managed. We need to take precautions individually to prevent the virus entering a third wave and we must continue to take responsibility in the community to socially distance and help prevent the spread.
2020 – A year of resilience
This year, we have been amazed at the resilience of clients and how they have energetically repurposed or pivoted their businesses into new areas, products and services. Businesses have redesigned delivery and payment systems, moved their entire processes digital, accepted remote working or new safe working environments and adopted to new technologies to survive and indeed prosper in this Covid-19 era.
Clients have demonstrated to us how we can all readily adapt to a change in circumstances and have given us inspiration and optimism for the future. We believe that by this time next year we will be back to where we want to be and more of our daily lives will resemble some kind of normality again. Do not give in to the virus, stay strong, be resilient and together we will move forward!
We can also reflect on the good news of the first vaccines arriving, being distributed and administered to people in the UK. The Government plans state the aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to protect those who are at most risk from serious illness or death. More vaccines have and are continuing to be developed and we can expect more of us to be vaccinated in 2021. Let’s hope that sometime next year we have broken the back of this virus!