DO you remember furlough? That kind of magical time when the Government paid people to stay at home and do nothing?
Well, it seems an awful lot of people want it to continue indefinitely.
One of the biggest problems facing our economy right now is a shortage of labour.
And a large proportion of the population are, sadly, what is called “economically inactive”.
These are people who don’t show up in the unemployment figures (which are still very low).
And here’s the issue. We have 500,000 fewer people in work than we did before that wretched pandemic in 2020.
And 900,000 fewer than the Bank of England thought we would have. (Mind you, the Bank is almost always wrong about everything.)
That spell of enforced idleness three years ago is costing our country very dearly.
Because it has convinced a fairly large number of people that they shouldn’t have to work any more.
But that’s not all. We have 3.6million people of working age who have never done a day’s paid work.
You may know some of them. They’re probably at home right now, with their feet up.
Another survey, out this week, suggests that more than a third of people currently in work would think about quitting if they were made to come into the office.
The figure is even higher among women.
This is a huge problem — and clearly Covid has something to do with it.
That was a time when an awful lot of people became accustomed to doing absolutely bugger all for ages. And being paid for it.
But it is not just our memories of Covid, of course.
Right now, more than 51 per cent of our population is on benefits of one kind or another.
And our welfare payments are pretty generous. Don’t believe what the Lefties tell you.
A single parent in London, for example, can get not far short of £2,000 per month.
This is a huge problem — especially at a time when wages are so low.
It is why more than half of us are on some kind of benefit.
Big strain on economy
And it suggests that doing the right thing — working hard every day to bring in a wage, maybe taking on another job — feels futile when you look at the people next door who are getting pretty much the same income for doing nowt.
It is enraging for those who work, and it is putting a big strain on our economy.
What we need is to ensure that there is a very clear benefit to being in work. We need a much higher minimum wage.
At the same time we need to be a little bit more, uh, questioning of those who have never done a day’s work in their lives. Including those who have been on the sick for years.
Until we show that people who do the right thing for themselves and for our country actually get to be better off, the proportion of people swinging the lead will grow and grow.
THE Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is probably right to promise free childcare for kids under the age of two.
Our nurseries are gobsmackingly expensive.
And the costs almost certainly deter some women from going back to work.
But how many women?
My suspicion is that an awful lot of young mums would prefer to spend time with their children. And no amount of free childcare will tempt them back.
We shall see.
THEY’RE NUT SO AWFUL
INSURANCE companies have been warning people about having squirrels in their attics.
That’s not a euphemism for being a nut job. They mean that grey squirrels can cause an awful lot of damage in our homes.
There are about 20 of the creatures in my roof space.
They hold meetings and stuff, I think.
But I would rather have squirrels in the roof space than insurance salesmen.
And when I add up the amount of money I have spent on insurance policies, you would need several million squirrels in the attic to cause as much damage to my bank account.
RUSSIA FOR THE TAKING
A RUSSKI jet destroys an American drone.
It’s the sort of incident that in films leads to World War Three.
And the media is warning us all about the perils of “escalation”.
I have to say I don’t particularly wish to be evaporated by a nuclear missile – although it’s as good a way to go as any.
But we have spent too long worrying about the Russian threat.
The country led by Vladimir Putin is not a tenth as strong as the old Soviet Union, with its empire of satellite states.
Russia is skint, isolated and its army floundering.
There has never been a better time to get tough.
There are some faces I wouldn’t mind about forgetting
THE latest research suggests that people with long Covid can forget the faces of very famous people.
The disease affects the brain, you see.
I don’t want to underestimate the misery caused by long Covid to hundreds of thousands of people.
But isn’t there a bit of a consolation in forgetting what, say, Joe Lycett looks like?
TRY MY ’GUIN & TONICS
IT was kind of Jeremy Hunt to extend the help for us all in paying our energy bills.
But the costs of these bills is still appalling.
Experts have been telling people how to cut down on consumption.
But it’s all stuff like turning off your phone charger and so on – it’ll only save you a pittance.
So here are my three top tips for REALLY reducing your energy costs:
- Rig up a cable to your neighbour’s electricity supply (best to do it at night).
- Convert your boiler to run off an endlessly free supply of stuff found near your house. In my area that would be discarded fish and chip wrappers, Greggs steak bake packets, cats, old sofas etc.
- Inject yourself with the DNA of a rockhopper penguin and thus feel perfectly happy when the temperature dips below minus ten.
I SUPPOSE we should all get behind Humza Yousaf.
He’s the supposed “front runner” in the Scottish National Party leadership elections.
He is easily the worst of the three available candidates.
He was one of the people responsible for the dreadful hate crime legislation which made it a crime to say naughty things even in your own house.
So let’s hope he wins. And shepherds his party into absolute oblivion.
THE water companies may have overcharged us all by a staggering £1.1billion for sewage treatment that didn’t actually take place.
And the companies are still pouring the nation’s turds into our rivers and beaches.
The dumping of sewage is a scandal – but it has been a scandal for as long as I can remember.
It is time to nationalise the companies. Let the Government take a bit of responsibility for the cleanliness of our waterways.
Big businesses shouldn’t be making such enormous profits from a natural resource.
HERE’S a problem for you to solve.
When you get the right answer please send it to the director-general of the BBC.
The maths problem is this: Paying a jug-eared former footballer £1.3million to present a show results in an audience of two million people.
The same show without the £1.3million presenter results in an audience of 2.5million.
Now, bearing these figures in mind, do you think that £1.3million is money well spent?
And if so, are you in a secure institution where they keep zapping your frontal lobes with electricity?