As far as statements that are out of step with government messaging go, this one possibly ranks the highest in the recent weeks and months, as the Bank of England have come out to seemingly directly contradict the glum government messaging around the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
Starting with the recent press conference with Professor Patrick Vallance and Chris Witty, in which they detailed the possible dire consequences of rising cases, the government appear to be going all out to remind the public of the public health crisis currently underway.
The problem the government seem to be having is that there’s been some quite significant push back from not only the public, who appear to be experiencing a lot of fatigue for lockdown measures, but also business and local government leaders.
The main accusations against the government are that their instructions are unclear, messy and confusing, which in turn is leading to widespread frustration as people across the nation try and get back to some level of manageable normality.
Further to that, local government figures are saying that they’re struggling with mixed messages as local restrictions vary in severity and outbreaks pop up sporadically across the UK. In fact, the Mayor of Middlesbrough has gone as far as to say that he intends to refuse to adhere to the government’s new restrictions as they make no sense.
Add to the mix the fact that the 10pm curfew that was recently applied to pubs and hospitality businesses seems to be having little or no impact to COVID-19 outbreaks, and the pressure is building. It’s not just that, however, there are now warnings that these missteps are causing potential economic damage.
Bank of England
Bank of England economist Andy Haldane has now come out to give an interview lamenting the government’s doom and gloom attitude towards our route out of the current pandemic crisis.
Speaking last week and reported by The BBC, Haldane said “Encouraging news about the present needs not to be drowned out by fears for the future, now is not the time for the economics of Chicken Licken,”
“My concern at present is that good news on the economy is being crowded out by fears about the future,” he added.
It marks a fairly stinging contrast to that of the government who have returned to holding press conferences to address the recent rise in cases across the country.
There is already growing concern about the damage that the recent 10pm curfew is having on the hospitality industry, with many now reporting that their trade has almost halved since the new restrictions. The reason, they say, is a mix of people not bothering to come as they won’t have enough time and a rising level of anxiety and fear brought about by the government’s messaging.
To highlight this, Haldane added ““The economy has already recovered just under 90% of its earlier losses. Having fallen precipitously by 20% in the second quarter, we expect UK GDP to have risen by a vertiginous 20% in the third quarter – by some margin its largest-ever rise,”
This much is evident in the fact that property prices across the UK continue to set new records for growth with house prices rising at their fastest rate since 2016.
In addition to that there has been a wave of new investment into UK property since the downturn took a hammer to world stock markets and government bonds thanks to historically low interest rates.
UK and international investors are continuing to show their confidence in the property market, and it seems that the Bank of England are now encouraging the government to recognise this vote of confidence and encourage it to continue.
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