WBG response to the Prime Minister’s statement on easing the lockdown

Date Posted: Sunday 10th May 2020

Speaking in response to the Prime Minister’s statement on easing the lockdown, WBG Director Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson said:

The Prime Minister’s statement raised as many questions as it answered and will have left people confused and worried.

  • How are working parents supposed to return to work tomorrow, at little more than 12 hours’ notice when schools and nurseries are still closed and grandparents unable to provide care?
  • Schools may be able to open gradually from June, but with classes of 30+ how will they maintain social distancing? What will happen from mid-July when school holidays start?
  • How are people who have to rely on public transport expected to get to work and remain safe?
  • How can workers be sure that they will be safe at work tomorrow morning when the Government still hasn’t published guidance for employers?
  • We are now advised to remain 2 metres apart ‘where possible’. What about where this is not possible? Will companies be competing with the NHS and social care for PPE which we know is already in short supply?
  • What support will be available for those who cannot return to work when many are facing a struggle to pay rent or mortgages and essential bills?
  • What does ‘encouraged to return to work’ mean? Does this suggest an ending of the furlough scheme or reduction in the level of support offered?

Our research with Fawcett and academics from LSE and Queen Mary showed that women are already twice as likely as men to feel pressure from their employers to work outside the home and half of parents  of young children say they will struggle to make ends meet in the next three months. 46% of mothers of younger children report anxiety levels above 7 on a scale of 0 to 10. This statement will have done little to alleviate this.