Jeff Prestridge  

How life must change after coronavirus

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

We now all have a new passage in our lives to get through.

To survive — and hopefully, at some stage, to come out the other end of — and go on to thrive.

A pot of gold at the end of the coronavirus rainbow.

It is what I cling to every day as I work remotely from home for the first time in my career as a financial journalist — and forego the things I normally love in my life and which usually provide a counterpoint to the stresses and strains of work.

So, no live music, theatre, professional football or eating out on a Saturday night. 

It is a change in my working and social life that has not gone by without incident — copy disappearing in the ether, internet wobbles, Zoom issues, falling off a bike I have not ridden for six years — but so far, so good.

Two personal finance sections of The Mail on Sunday compiled remotely, two wealth sections put together.

Tickety-boo and all that – plus the opportunity to catch up on some past TV favourites such as David Nobb’s brilliant A Bit Of A Do, starring the likes of David Jason, Nicola Pagett, Gwen Taylor and Stephanie Cole.

How I have howled with laughter at their shenanigans and bed-hopping.

Of course, any personal issues I am experiencing are insignificant, trivial, when set against those faced by hundreds of thousands of families up and down the country.

People entered the year with a smile on their face and a belief that Boris Johnson would take the country to a new promised land where railways rattled along at a great pace, our infrastructure improved and potholes would be assigned to history.

But millions of people now face massive challenges they have never faced before:

  • Families where loved ones work for the NHS and face coronavirus danger day in, night out. People whose worth needs to be far better recognised in whatever economy emerges post-coronavirus. Surely, more pay for nurses and less boardroom greed? 
  • Households where the breadwinner has either lost their job or has been furloughed, destabilising delicate family finances.
  • Business owners who have no idea how the companies they have painstakingly grown from scratch are going to survive the weeks and months ahead.
  • The self-employed, clinging onto financial survival while the government’s assistance scheme creaks and cranks into action.

It is these people whom we (society) must help and assist all we can as we grapple with overcoming Covid-19.

And help we must. According to a report from communications and research group Cicero/AMO, financial resilience is fragile across swathes of the country.

Its findings indicate that only 15 per cent of adults could financially withstand a period of sustained economic disruption resulting from coronavirus.

More frighteningly, some 16m adults do not have the personal finance firepower to withstand more than four weeks of lockdown. All rather worrying. All rather grim.

What this highlights to me is the need for better and greater financial education – especially among adults.

Not everyone has the financial wherewithal to procure the services of a chartered financial planner, armed with their professionalism and cash flow modelling tools.

Nor does everyone read the money pages of national newspapers where bags of useful financial information can be obtained.

Going forward, it is key that more is done to arm people with sufficient financial knowledge to ensure their household finances are as resilient as possible.