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HomeLockdown delays biggest Government failure during pandemic – think tank report

Lockdown delays biggest Government failure during pandemic – think tank report

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The UK Government’s biggest failure during the pandemic has been its delay in imposing lockdowns, according to a think tank report.

The Resolution Foundation think tank highlights what it refers to as two key successes in the response to the pandemic – the vaccine rollout and support to protect businesses and employees.

But the report, published ahead of the first anniversary of the UK’s lockdown, said the biggest failure has been imposing restrictions too late, costing thousands of lives and deepening the economic crisis.

It estimates that delaying January’s lockdown led to around an extra 25,000 Covid-related deaths in England compared to if restrictions were put in place earlier to prevent the death rate rising from early December.

Restrictions that were belatedly introduced then needed to be tighter and longer lasting, meaning the UK has experienced amongst the strictest overall social distancing measures of the G7 countries over the past year.

This suggests why the UK suffered the sharpest economic hit from the crisis among these nations, according to the research.

It said the Government had delivered in its economic support for workers and their families, through the furlough scheme, benefits uplift and grants for companies and the self-employed.

Of the £340 billion of crisis-related spending, the report found some £186 billion related specifically to support for households, amounting to around £6,700 per household in the UK.

This support meant that typical household incomes have remained flat and firm insolvencies have fallen, despite the economy experiencing its biggest contraction in over 300 years.

But the report notes that while aggregate savings have surged during the crisis, the poorest households have seen their savings deteriorate and debts rise rather than fall.

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