New approaches to testing

It seems like lots of people have come down with COVID this week, probably more than I have noticed before. Maybe this was, just my psychological bias, mind you, as I also came up double red on the Lateral Flow Test too (the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon I believe, if you like this stuff).

It has all been a bit of a bother. I was planning on being at Credit Week, had a full day session booked on Thursday, client work and video recording on Friday… everything now cancelled.

And, since the start of the week, I have now been shuffled off to the spare room, isolating to try to avoid infecting anyone else, and seemingly only able to slink out of the shadows when everyone is out of the house.

The good news to report though is that the LFT tests really do seem to work. An extra line appeared, was really clear, so at least we know. And, so now I am stuck in the room, waiting to feel better and the line to disappear. A new sense of jeopardy every morning as to whether I go outside to play

So far I seem to have been lucky healthwise, some fever, sore throat, slight cough, but manageable, albeit tired. The big problem I have noticed though is psychological, boredom.

Remote working and student living – again

Is it we are so used to rushing around these days or maybe just the consequence of working remotely that it seemed all a little too easy to slip into pecking away at a few emails here, having the odd conversation there, a quick meeting and before you know it 3/4 of a day had passed, and the opportunity to get the rest you now realized you needed.

Not that I have seemed to have learnt… gradually over the week, the spare room has acquired a table, the laptop, phone chargers… all I need now is a kettle, fridge and pot noodles and I will be back to full student living… and I am really not sure that is a good thing.

Affordability data

Still, the little extra time I was given back did allow me to follow the UK chancellor’s (finance minister) spring statement, primarily focused on softening the blow from the expected affordability crisis.

5p off fuel duty and changes to tax limits were the headlines. With tax cuts being money in the pocket for earners, the fuel cost reduction was to help with transport, but with the thinking, this will also flow through to other items using energy, such as food.

All of this got me thinking about the data again (not a surprise I know). What do people spend money on, how much exactly and does this change by how much you earn?

Unsurprisingly the data is available on the ONS website, and with time on my hands, I was able to look at it via the interactive graphic below.

What is clear (to my interpretation, at least from this data) is if you are in the lower 30-40% of income earners, you are having to top up your income with benefits or debt to balance the books.

And, as prices go up, assuming income or benefits does not, this gap becomes wider.

So the question from the changes we have now is… are the measures sufficient to moderate this impact and if not (and I fear not) what will happen next and what do we need to do to help?

Playing our part to help?

Outside of regular cost efficiency (to help more customers), forbearance plans and options (for support), being proactive and having some honest conversations with customers about products, affordability, and outcomes is going to be key… this could be a big shock for many any we may need to think outside of other existing toolsets to help… including addressing some of these bigger questions.

… so maybe the consumer duty is arriving in the nick of time… and getting ready now will help!

Hopefully, I will be back to full strength next week… for everyone else stay safe and if you are also off ill, get well soon.

Have a good weekend (in the sun) everyone.

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