Political

Safety mustn’t become a luxury for the better off

The lockdown caused by the coronavirus crisis has illustrated starkly how dependent we all are on people doing low-paid jobs.

It’s brought a wider recognition of the importance of the manual tasks involved in delivering things to our front door, from warehouse logistics through to making deliveries.

Jobs that were called non-essential by the government when previously proposing immigration changes have been highlighted as being very much essential.

One other feature of those jobs is how much harder, if not impossible, they are to do from home. The risk as the economy slowly starts returning to normal is that we see another social division growing to add to the many which already exist: those who can afford to (continue to) work from home get to live more safely than those who have to work in regular proximity to strangers.

Staying safe from coronavirus must not become the privilege of the better off. 

Rather, we need to ensure not only a decent financial safety net for all, but also much improved safety of workplaces and workers. That will helps us avoid repeating the pattern from previous pandemics of inequality widening.

We are rightly proud of how the NHS provides health services for all. Let us not undermine it by providing safety from coronavirus for only some.

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