March 16 2020

Autonomy calls on the UK government to take immediate and decisive action in response to the developing COVID-19 crisis. We’ve divided the set of actions into three categories:

+ Financial support

+ Industrial strategy

+ Delivery logistics

Longer-term, the current crisis has exposed serious frailties in our labour market and social security net. We shall be publishing more on future-oriented strategies in due course.

 

Signed,

 

The Autonomy core team

 

Will Stronge

Kyle Lewis

Maria Dada

Julian Siravo

Hina Pandya

Financial support

1. Ensure that full sick pay is paid for all who are eligible and a basic income for all with residency in this country, paid for up until December 31st (when it should be reviewed).

 

a) This basic income would be paid at a decent rate to adults and perhaps a different rate for children.[1]

b) This will be funded by progressive taxation that draws from those that can afford it most: the top deciles of the population.

c) This support will help facilitate self-isolation and ensure a basic amount of cash is in everyone’s pockets for emergencies – no matter if you’re securely employed, unemployed, on a zero-hour contract or one of 5 million self-employed people.

d) This payment could be effected by suspending all means-testing on current UC schemes and by forcing employers to pay their workforce these sums of money, pending state reimbursement.[2]

 

 

2. Effect an immediate freeze on mortgage payments, rent, utility bills and other debt payments.

 

a) Without these measures, millions of the population will feel a monumental squeeze as their working hours (and wages) fall or are cancelled whilst their bills remain.

 

 

3. Allocate government funds to foodbanks and develop working relationships with local mutual aid groups so that resources and advice can be transmitted to every region and borough: https://covidmutualaid.org/

 

 

Notes:

 

[1] Along the lines of the Compass report: https://www.compassonline.org.uk/publications/basic-income-for-all-from-desirability-to-feasibility/

 

[2] Along the lines of the scheme proposed by the Irish government, see: https://www.gov.ie/en/news/965011-covid-19-introduction-of-simplified-unemployment-payments-for-employ/

Industrial strategy

4. Coordinate (and if necessary mandate) factories to make essential medical equipment.

 

 

5. Requisition private hospital beds, hotel space, and empty buildings for emergency treatment and isolation centres.

 

 

a) This process should be for minimal or even no payment: no one should profit from this national crisis.

b) Some of these spaces should also be used to house the homeless, who will be particularly susceptible to catching and spreading COVID-19 due to depleted immune systems.

 

 

 

6. Provide all necessary resources to NHS, social care, and public health, including funding of scientific research and testing for staff.

 

 

a) An immediate pay rise should be put in place for staff in essential roles that simply cannot be done remotely or on reduced hours.

 

 

 

7. Meet immediately with all trade unions to exchange information on the specific impacts of the crisis and build strategies pertaining to each sector together.

 

a) Until this crisis is over, the labour market must be managed hand in hand with workers so as to blunt the worst effects of a possible recession.

 

 

 

8. Should the immediate, peak crisis period subside momentarily – potentially in summer – and the labour force returns to the workplace, then shorter working weeks (with no loss in pay) should be in force across industries. 

 

a) This could be administered in a coordinated manner so as to distribute commuting times – spreading out congestion periods to avoid mass contact.

b) As many studies have shown, including the experience of the Three-Day Week in 1973, we can expect productivity to be impacted negligibly.

Delivery logistics

9. Establish delivery services for vulnerable people and for scaling treatment and testing.

 

 

a) In this time of isolation, panic and anxiety, a dynamic and scaled system of delivery for essentials, tests and check-ins for the most vulnerable will be necessary.

b) In London, TFL’s vast data and mapping technologies should be used to coordinate delivery.

 

 

10. Provide childcare for frontline workers.

 

 

a) We can’t expect those who will be working beyond their usual capacity to have to fulfil child caring – or indeed any caring – responsibilities at the same time. We simply cannot afford mass-burn out in key sectors.

On-the-ground initiatives

COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK are a volunteer network sharing information on the community care groups across the UK supporting vulnerable people through covid-19 outbreak. #MutualAidCV

As of 15/03/2020 there are 250 community care groups set up across the country.

 

Up to date local group listings are here:

 

docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d

 

To add a group to to the sheet, register here: docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAI

 

For advice on how to set up a group go here:

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-antIvWxdkEX3kIC_BRlRQ7CaOTps246rJbK5Iyg28o/edit?fbclid=IwAR01-uF6BDEX_JI8L_xzjkLnUrOw34PzRxb4dX7hEdjm7qfDx9NwZReJkPk#heading=h.3kh6b5b1ldke 

 

Also check out Open Source COVID Medical Supplies for innovative solutions for the fabrication of medical supplies, given local supply conditions:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/670932227050506/