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THE AGE OF EXCESS IS OVER

1. Something had to give sooner or later. It took a pandemic to force the issue in a most painful manner. The age of excess & the crazy upside down world of make belief.
2. By example, I live near a wedding venue. 20k weddings which you'd imagine are for the wealthy, but many are just low wage earners: shop assistants, cleaners & warehouse workers having their 1 magical day. On the credit card.
3. Rented home, car on lease, a life on the tick. I've heard a few tales of couples getting divorced before the wedding day debt has been paid off. Couples starting out life together saddled with debt & little prospect of buying a place of their own.
4. For 1 day they can pretend it's all okay & then the slog sets in. £20k of debt takes some paying off when the average wage is £17 or £18k a yr & rents are a minimum of £600 a month for a modest home.
5. I can see why it's gone this way. Young couples need something to look forward to. It used to be buying a home, but prices are out of reach in many areas, mine included. And longer commutes to work exclude any realistic notion of finding time to buy a doer-upper.
6. And a lot of those skills are lost anyway. Fragmented family structures lose the inheritance of basic skills in home maintenance and DIY, which were so often passed down from parents to children.
7. But I think we see an opportunity amongst the debris of economic gloom. It's inevitable that commercial premises will become vacant. If we accept that the yrs of high street decline is now permanent, it can be revived with permitted development to turn premises into homes.
8. A mix of retail, residential & hospitality could work well & for the first time in years provide home ownership for young people. And if universities are going to suffer, there's a heap of student lets that could be spruced up to make first time homes too.
9. Home ownership makes a huge difference to people. It provides stability & a sense of achievement. Just as Thatcher allowed the purchase of council houses in the 80's, this Govt. could grasp the opportunity to relax planning regs & release real estate for first time buyers.
10. We can start to rebuild the Country properly & bring pride & belonging to those who feel excluded.

It seems to me that there's nothing short of a revolution taking place. Work patterns will change due to temporary home working becoming permanent.
11. Slowly people will turn away from consumerism on the cheap. Getting into bed with China has cost us dearly in the long run. We've turned a blind eye to modern slavery, intellectual property infringement & national security threats just to keep the shaky show on the road.
12. And now the State will have to step in to save the larger firms & jobs during the coming months. Forget State Aid rules, it's survival time & we need to salvage what can be saved.
13. Western democracies have paid a hefty price in their reliance on emerging economies with scant regard for transparency in what the true cost is.

If politicians think more of the same can be sold to the electorate, they need their heads testing.
14. But we can make it work in our favour. Home working will provide an opportunity for some to take care of relatives at home instead of relying on care facilities. The State could make savings in this area of social care.
15. With care home fees of £800+ a week, it makes economic sense to encourage those who can care for relatives to do so & with the support they need. It's not appropriate for all families of course, but with the right framework it could work out well.
16. So the pandemic has exposed major flaws in our society that can no longer be ignored. The very fabric of society & family has been eroded for too long. We need this revolution to get back on track.
17. 'Stop the World I want to get off' just happened & it's how we get back on again that needs to be negotiated with bravery, vision & belief in the new form of Nation State.
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