Evening Standard Comment: Recovery, not extending emergency Covid powers, must be the priority

·1-min read
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has warned that higher wages could cause inflationary pressure (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has warned that higher wages could cause inflationary pressure (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

When Gordon Brown granted the Bank of England operational independence in 1997, it is unlikely he had this in mind.

Governor Andrew Bailey has, without any data to back his decision, dropped the Bank’s requirement that staff should return to the office for even one day a week — a decision this newspaper finds shocking, and in direct contravention of Rishi Sunak’s philosophy regarding the importance of in-person interaction. Most of the City firms are ordering or encouraging staff back at least two or three days a week.

We understand that working from home can confer advantages, especially for parents and those who must commute hours. But a balance has to be struck.

Permanent remote working will harm our city centres and younger workers. Never mind the basic fact that we are social beings and it is time to come out of hibernation.

Mixed messages — the hallmark of this Government — remain a hindrance to getting back to normal. The latest of which is ministers’ desire to extend emergency Covid powers into the new year when there are plenty of laws already in place to take contingency measures.

Emergency measures could also be passed in hours if needed. It sends the wrong signal to business and the public about where we are in the recovery from Covid-19 and masks the massive strides already taken if they say we still need them.

Clarity must be the lodestar of this new phase of the pandemic. Whether on immunising children or getting back to the office, the public are crying out for a coherent message.

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