WHO Pays?

Let us pretend for a brief moment that debts have to be repaid. And that schemes have to be funded… Who picks up the SARS-CoV-2 tab?

The Cost

First let us review the SARS-CoV-2 bill accrued by the UK government. I haven’t been able to identify an exact number for the amount that both closing large sectors of the UK economy and subsequent health initiatives (track and trace anyone?) have cost the public purse. I did, however, find a number of estimates that put the cost at £394bn whilst also calculating that the increase in national debt between 1st March 2020 – 1st March 2021 to be £313.1bn. Being a charitable fellow I will use the more conservative figure of £313.1bn to represent the “Covid hole” in the public purse. The numbers are as follows…

The Institute for Government estimated that the Cost of Covid to the UK Government would be £317.4bn up to mid-September 2020.

The Institute for Government then updated this to a figure of £394bn for November 2020. They also provided this handy graphic:

Figure 1: Change in Forecast for 2020/21 public sector borrowing between March and November 2020 (Source: Institute for Government)

To check this estimate I reviewed the Office of National Statistics UK Public Debt data between the 1st March 2020 to 1st March 2021 (using end of Feb cut-off dates on the charts in Figures 2 and 3) to arrive at the figure of £313.1bn.

Figure 2: Net Public Sector Debt (excluding Public Sector Banks) for end of Feb 2020 (Source: Office for National Statistics)
Figure 3: Net Public Sector Debt (excluding Public Sector Banks) for end of Feb 2021 (Source: Office for National Statistics)

A crude calculation of £2,131.2 bn (Feb 21) – £1,784 bn (Feb 20) = £347.2 bn in UK Government borrowing over from start of the first UK lockdown to the latest date in the data series.

It should be noted that the UK government borrowed £34.1 bn in the year before the pandemic – £1,784 bn (Feb 20) – £1,749.9 bn (Feb 19). Therefore, if we attribute a “natural” annual borrowing value of £34.1bn we arrive at a figure of £313.1 bn in additional annual borrowing due to the measures to “control the virus”. Essentially, during the pandemic, the UK government has borrowed in a month what it normally borrows in a year.

Note: I haven’t been able to determine if this also includes local council borrowing. I am assuming it doesn’t, which of course will make it another problem for another day…

The Payback

Now that we have a figure of £313.1bn for our “Covid hole” let us review the official payback story. Taking the key points from the UK’s 2021 Budget Statement we see:

  • Maintaining the income tax Personal Allowance and higher rate threshold from April 2022 until April 2026.
  • To balance the need to raise revenue with the objective of having an internationally competitive tax system, the rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25%, which will remain the lowest rate in the G7. In order to support the recovery, the increase will not take effect until 2023. Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less, around 70% of actively trading companies, will continue to be taxed at 19% and a taper above £50,000 will be introduced so that only businesses with profits greater than £250,000 will be taxed at the full 25% rate.

With the UK Income Tax Rates shown in Figure 4:

Figure 4: UK Income Tax Rates (Source: UK Government)

What does this mean? Luckily, City A.M. is here to help us with the translation:

Rishi Sunak will make the UK’s big businesses pay off the country’s Covid spending, with £45bn of corporation tax rises to hit companies with profits over £250,000 the hardest.

Corporation tax will rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent by 2023 for UK companies with annual profits of £250,000 or higher, however a new “super deduction” will also see companies wipe out their tax bills by investing in property, plant and equipment for the next two years.

The chancellor also introduced a stealth income tax rise that will raise almost £20bn to help the government pay off a £355bn Budget deficit in 2020-21.”

OK, so in two years time UK businesses are going to start paying all of this debt back? Oh, but hang on. As we saw above, the UK runs a “natural” borrowing rate (deficit) of £34.1bn per annum. Even during the “good times” we weren’t paying off the national debt, so this grand initiative won’t even touch the sides of the “Covid hole”. Also, we are likely to accrue another £68bn in debt in the two years prior to the “big payback”…

And will this tax increase incentivise businesses to employ young people? And, if so, on what wage?

So, honestly, who pays?

My understanding is that, historically speaking, there are two ways out of debt in a low growth (stagnated) economy. One is default, the other is inflation.

A default essentially means an economic bust, and you have to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund for “financial assistance”. Naturally, that comes with certain conditions, essentially tying the government’s hands (see Argentina). And who in power wants that? Which means we are likely to get inflation. Which is great for those who have assets, but not so much for those who don’t (i.e. the under 25s). Are we spotting a pattern yet?

And so the War on Youth continues, and is about to enter its second year. Not only have our youth:

They are also being forced to foot the bill for the whole sordid experience. Has there ever been a time when a nation treated its young so malevolently? Surely we’d have to go as far back as the brutal rituals practised in South American civilisations around the 15th century.

A Better Way?

Now, personally, I do not think the UK Government can atone for the irreparable damage they have inflicted upon our young. However, they can stop making it worse. It starts by reviewing who profited during the pandemic. For example:

  • which online retailers benefited at the expense of the high street?
  • Which online food distributors grew at the cost of brick and mortar establishments?
  • Which drug companies signed lucrative contracts with national governments?

Then start extracting the funds as necessary. I don’t expect this to plug the “Covid hole” but surely the search begins there…

The War on Youth

This post shines a light on the impact that the UK Government’s handling of SARS CoV 2 has had on those aged 24 and below.

By way of introduction, I am a Systems Engineer by profession. If we take public health as our ‘System of Interest’ (as per the methodology in ISO 15288), we find it is comprised of a number of elements.

Public Health – System of Interest

At the time of drafting this (04/01/2020) there have been 51,813 people who have died in hospitals in England and either tested positive for COVID-19 or, where no positive test result was received for COVID-19, COVID-19 was mentioned on their death certificate (2,517 of the 51,813) (https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/covid-19-daily-deaths/).

Whilst this post does not contest the WHO’s Infection Fatality Rates (IFR) for SARS CoV 2 – 0.00% to 1.63% (https://www.who.int/bulletin/online_first/BLT.20.265892.pdf), it does contest the effectiveness of the draconian lockdown measures imposed by governments in response to it.

Note: Across 51 locations, the median COVID-19 infection fatality rate was 0.27% (corrected 0.23%). For people < 70 years old, the infection fatality rate of COVID-19 across 40 locations with available data ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% (median 0.05%); the corrected values were similar.

What appears to have driven the UK governments response to SARS CoV 2 are the Imperial College’s models (team led by Neil Ferguson) predicting what would happen in “unmitigated” circumstances (see below):

Source: https://www.iedm.org/the-flawed-covid-19-model-that-locked-down-canada/

As can be seen, in the case of Sweden, which did not implement lockdown measures, the model is off by a factor a 25. Even if we include the latest figures (04/01/2021) we see a total of 8,727 COV-19 deaths in Sweden, indicating that the model is off by a factor of 10. Furthermore, and perhaps even more incredible, I have found it impossible to get an official estimate on how many lives lockdown has saved (UK), the best I could find was a non peer-reviewed paper which suggested, “However, from early May the decline in England and Wales has been much sharper. We estimate that to 7 August, lockdown saved 17,700 lives in England and Wales, or just under 20,000 extrapolating to a UK level.” (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.24.20139196v2 ). Given that Macmillan estimate that “across the UK there are currently around 50,000 ‘missing diagnoses’ – meaning that compared to a similar timeframe last year, 50,000 fewer people have been diagnosed with cancer. ” to the point that they are calling for cancer to not be the forgotten C. (https://www.macmillan.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/we-make-change-happen/we-shape-policy/covid-19-impact-cancer-report.html ). A simple deduction of 20,000 additional SARS CoV 2 deaths from 50,000 potential cancer deaths shows how devastating the lockdowns have been from a public health perspective. And that is without mentioning cancelled surgeries, domestic violence and child abuse.

It is with respect to that last point which focused my mind on the topic of this post – what effect is our government’s response to SARS CoV 2 having on our youth (i.e. those aged 24 and below)? I have mapped out the elements which comprise Youth Well-being below:

Youth Wellbeing – System of Interest

Addressing some of those Elements individually:


The House of Commons Briefing Paper (15/12/2020) makes the following statements regarding the impact of coronavirus on youth employment:

  • The number of young people in employment has fallen by 278,000, a 7% fall. The fall for men has been larger, with employment levels falling by 9% for men and by 6% for women.
  • 181,000 more young people have become economically inactive.

Source: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05871/SN05871.pdf

Employment Opportunity

Focusing on the career advancement sub-element of Employment Opportunity, we would expect to see our youth in work learning key skills that Employers seek. Instead we see a large proportion of our young workers furloughed:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) opened to applications on the 20 April 2020. As at 30 September, 376,000 jobs held by those aged 24 or under were on furlough, which was 9% of eligible jobs.

Source: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN05871/SN05871.pdf


Reviewing government statistics on child attendance figures in educational institutions over the past year paints an equally bleak picture. Prior to the pandemic (2001 – 2019) attendance in English schools was as follows:

School Attendance 2001 – 2019 (England)

Source: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812539/Schools_Pupils_and_their_Characteristics_2019_Main_Text.pdf

Now contrast those attendance levels above with those during the pandemic (below):

School Attendance Mar 20 – May 20 (England)
School Attendance Jun 20 – Jul 20 (England)

Note: All figures are estimates because they have been adjusted by the DfE for non-responses

Source: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8915/CBP-8915.pdf

The only thing I can deduce from this data is that the majority of our children are not receiving a comprehensive education. Attempts have been made at remote learning but it has not be established how effective this method has been. Has anyone in favour of lockdown measures bothered to calculate how many lost educational hours this amounts to? If so, I’m yet to see it.


Whilst there is not enough evidence to suggest that our youth are resorting to self harm (and suicide) due to lockdown measures (https://www.ncmd.info/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/REF253-2020-NCMD-Summary-Report-on-Child-Suicide-July-2020.pdf ), there have been an increase in self harm and suicidal thoughts in the 10 – 17 age group leading up to the November lockdown (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report/7-children-and-young-people).

Safety and Security

Perhaps the most damning of all is the rise in child abuse due to lockdowns in response to SARS CoV 2. From the Independent (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-child-abuse-welfare-lockdown-nspcc-a9610631.html):

“More than 22,000 adults contacted the children’s charity between April to June, with the biggest concerns pertaining to parental behaviour, neglect and physical and emotional abuse.

It represents an increase of almost one-third (32 per cent) on the monthly average for the three months prior to lockdown. In May alone, there were 8,287 calls to the helpline, the highest number ever made in a single month on record.

About 40 per cent of the calls received were referred on to local authorities or the police for further action, which the charity said is also a slight increase on pre-lockdown levels.”

And this pattern is confirmed by Keoghs (https://keoghs.co.uk/keoghs-insight/client-alerts/child-abuse-during-lockdown):

“The National Crime Agency reported a 10% increase in cases of online grooming during the 13 weeks of lockdown. In addition, there has been a 50% increase in child abuse images online.”


In terms of the effect on our youth, the lockdown measures implemented by the UK government in response to SARS CoV 2 have:

  • increased unemployment
  • reduced career development
  • decreased education
  • increased self harm and suicidal thoughts
  • facilitated child abuse

As a thought experiment, imagine if Isis devised and executed a plot that reduced youth employment by 7%, furloughed another 376,000 of them, closed down schools, decreased the mental health of our under 17s, and facilitated child abuse. How many bombs do you think would be falling on the Middle East right now? I think, given the evidence presented here, that a rational mind can only conclude that the youth of the UK are not living through a pandemic, they are living through a terrorist event. Welcome to the War on Youth…

On Youth

Where is your zest, young man? Youth has been maligned, corrupted, conspired against. And now you come of age – for what? To inherit your own boredom! How obedient we have made Man, how worthless. When those instruments of efficiency swallow your education how will you bargain for your happiness? How shall we, in our acquiescence, ever arise to the most lofty of ideals – the creation of our values? Dignity has acquired a sense of equality – the taming of all aspiration – for it does not do to undermine the esteem of men. But what has Man’s timidity brought? Has he ever viewed himself through his own eyes? Could he survive his own verdict? Only if society had raised him to its baseness. Only if he had not compromised some part of himself in the acceptance of these values. But where is our overcoming, our youth? Why does it learn to be afraid? Why does it learn to submit? Why does it grow – old?