Covid-19: the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain face “whatever the cost”

In the correspondents’ club, franceinfo crosses borders to see what is happening elsewhere in the world. As in France, the question of extending aid to the sectors most in difficulty in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic arises in the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain.

In France, the state will now target sectors of activity that still need help and promises to do it on a case-by-case basis. For more than a year and a half, to avoid a collapse of the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries have had to help. Overview.

In the  United States, the end of aid for unemployed people at the end of their rights

The American version of ” whatever the cost ” is coming to an end, in a country not very accustomed to aid distributed by the state. Two emergency federal programs  adopted to deal with the consequences of the pandemic are ending today in the United States. Acted in March 2020 in the CARES law signed by Donald Trump at the time, this aid was extended several times, the last time at the end of December.

Two devices are therefore coming to an end. First, assistance for the unemployed at the end of their entitlement, who have exhausted all their benefits, to receive them for an additional 13 weeks. In total, seven and a half million people are affected. Second, support for the self-employed and part-time workers, which allowed the self-employed and the long-term unemployed to receive $ 300 per week more than their benefit.

The end of partial unemployment in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson’s government will end its partial unemployment scheme at the end of September. More than a million and a half workers still benefited from it at the beginning of August, so some sectors are preparing to plunge …

First, aeronautics: short-time working is still essential there, airport traffic is far from its level before the Covid-19. The unions fear an explosion in layoffs with the end of aid.

Concerns are also felt in the event sectors or among small businesses. According to a think tank, partial unemployment helped to preserve more than 11 million jobs during the health crisis in the United Kingdom, while the device did not exist before. It has been renewed several times in recent months, but this time the government is determined to end it on September 30. Another measure will disappear, the temporary increase in “universal credit”, an allowance affected by 6 million Britons. This is a necessary halt, according to finance minister Rishi Sunak.

“These measures obviously cannot go on forever, whether it is short-time working or others. Our priority now is that as many people as possible have a job, and a job that is well paid.”

Rishi Sunak, UK Finance Minister

For the British government, it is even time to replenish the coffers, it should announce this week an increase in social contributions, to relieve the public health care system and finance a future health plan.

In Spain, no “whatever the cost”

We cannot really speak of an “whatever the cost” policy in Spain. The Spanish government has put in place a whole series of measures to protect the productive structure, employment, family income and ensure the survival of businesses, but they have also been the subject of much criticism. Indeed, Spain has provided significant indirect aid via, for example, loans to companies guaranteed by the State or the partial unemployment scheme which has already cost more than 40 billion euros.

But, in return, Spain has injected very little direct aid into the productive fabric. Last March, the Sanchez government finally agreed to release seven billion euros in direct aid, but for companies this aid is insufficient, since it is intended only for certain sectors and which arrives too late. About 100,000 companies have gone out of business since the start of the pandemic.

Spain remains one of the major beneficiaries of the post-COVID 19 European recovery plan. Last May, the Spanish government extended public funding for short-time working, a device which has a very heavy cost for public finances but which is essential to reduce social impact. In addition, the executive extended until the end of October aid for the most vulnerable, what is called “the social shield” to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

As for the European recovery plan, Spain received a first payment of 9 billion euros last month. In total, it should receive 140 billion euros, divided between grants and loans, unprecedented support to revive the economy. The Spanish government hopes to create 800,000 jobs in three years and gain two percentage points of GDP growth per year.

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