Have you got what it takes this winter to survive and thrive?
Yes, it’s not quite April, and I’m talking about winter, but not in the traditional sense! It may be the first days of spring, and with news of lockdown restrictions slowly being lifted, and the continued roll-out of the COVID-19 Vaccine, much anticipation of a more positive summer than 2020? And whilst I do not wish to be the bearer of bad news; we are on the very cusp of an exceptionally bleak economic winter, that if you are not preparing for, could prove to be exceptionally difficult to survive!
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – which keeps tabs on government spending – said that UK borrowing would be £355bn for the current financial year (April 2020 to April 2021), before falling back to £234bn over the next year.
That’s the highest figure ever seen outside wartime.
Now before we go any further, what does this even look like?
To demonstrate, I want you to consider it in seconds.
What long are a million seconds?
About 11 days.
How about a billion seconds?
about 31.5 YEARS!
So when we talk about BORROWING £355Bn. In seconds, that’s the equivalent of 11,182 THOUSAND YEARS! And although we borrowed it at a very reasonable interest rate, that’s still FAR more than we could ever consider in our lifetime to payback!
The tide is turning
So although the news is becoming less doom and gloom right now, with stories of ‘opening back up’ and ‘vaccine completion percentage the fact is, there is a colossal debt we (as a country) have incurred to get through 2020, and the economy (the world over) is being propped up with borrowing and quantitive easing! In the USA, COVID is expected to have cost $16Trillion (that’s the seconds equivalent of over Half a Million years ago).
The fact is, this virus has cost the earth more than we can ever expect to repay, both in terms of lives and financially. The amount of money that has been poured into ‘propping up’ economies around the world, is the highest since the second world war (A debt, we only finished paying back in 2018!)
For the first time ever, it has been government policy to close entire sectors of the economy down in order to save lives. Industries, the employers that form them, and the employees that work in them have all had to put actions once regarded as routine on hold for the best part of a year. A collapse in confidence and demand has led to capital expenditure falling off a cliff, with people preferring to sit on their cash rather than invest in an economy that has suffered the biggest decline in its fortunes in over 300 years – a contraction of 9.9%.
Added to this, the extent of the health emergency has fluctuated constantly, with a lull in cases over the summer of 2020 before the 2nd wave of infections hit society over the winter months – leading to an even longer period of closure.
However, from the moment a vaccine was announced in November, the seeds were planted for a route out of the pandemic. Since then we’ve seen this clarity translate into confidence. Capital is returning, and recruiters are seeing an upsurge in vacant positions with their clients. Activity that would usually occur over 12 months is being squeezed into companies’ post lockdown plans in the second quarter of 2021.
At all levels, consumers and employers are looking to make up for lost time. The UK economy is projected to grow at its fastest rate since 1948 as government stimulus combines with the release of investments and a consumer spending boom. Society has become frustrated by lockdown after lockdown, and this is likely to a far more care-free attitude to activity in 2021. Almost a return to Bryan Adams ‘Summer of ’69’.
The anxiety of 2020 that people have become accustomed to will translate into determination in the second half of this year in particular. When the health situation finally returns to some form of normality, activity will rise exponentially. After a lockdown-enforced lull in Spring 2020, the market grew rapidly at the end of the year as people used the pandemic to reflect on their housing priorities. We might expect to see similar growth in the leisure and hospitality sectors, as once again people appreciate the opportunity to socialise with their family and friends once again.
One of the most important and quite unique elements of 2020, is also one of the least spoken about. After year after year of doing the same thing and having very little time to assess. 2020 gave us all time to reflect. Pre-pandemic, working life was like a treadmill, trying to keep things going on a day to day basis not knowing whether our potential was truly being maximised.
The pandemic has brought about new, innovative ways of working that put many businesses in a healthy position to recover quickly from the crisis. I have seen countless business owners that have been forced to think outside the box in order to survive.
And whilst all of this paints a positive and encouraging picture for the next 2-3 quarters, it is set against a backdrop of such huge debts and the need to recoup losses.
I can’t help feel the news will turn quickly now to many positive stories of success and recovery, to lift peoples spirits ahead of what is yet to be realised!
Let me offer one final example if I may, that might make all of this far clearer:
When you first learn how to drive, your particularly nervous, there is a lot to take in, and you listen intently to your instructor who guides you as to where, when, how, why. When we are taught to observe, use our mirrors, anticipate, we are often looking 1, 2 on occasion three cars ahead. And, eventually, we are deemed competent enough to pass our test.
Years later, and with many thousands of miles of experience, I was fortunate enough to partake and pass my Advanced Driver Licence, and subsequently my C1 Emergency driving test as a frontline Ambulance personnel. and although you shall be driving a large and cumbersome vehicle, all your training is conducted by the Police Traffic Rapid Response Driver Training Team. The speed of reaction, consideration, observation and anticipation is on another level and enables you to anticipate and respond far quicker than ever before.
At speeds well in excess of 100mph, determine you are looking far further ahead and responding instinctively almost subconsciously to anything that on your first driving test would be in your line of sight!
And it’s the same now. I’m encouraging you to view the news and the positive stories ON the backdrop I’ve shared. I’m inviting you to do well this summer, but be aware of the fact the economy is being bolstered to the sum of Billions of pounds right now. When the tide turns (which it has to and shall) you ALSO need to be prepared and ready to survive the economic winter and come through the other side.
There are already those who are ‘taking stock’ building reserves, investing in opportunities now to diversify their risk, and preparing for the storm. If you’d like to learn more as to how YOU can move from survive to thrive? and make them ost of ALL the seasons, click on the link to grab a call with one of our SCALE Sherpa’s.