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Alison Steed

Alison Steed

By the time you read this, England will be nearly one-quarter of the way through lockdown 2.0, with Wales heading out of its two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown, and it remains to be seen where Scotland will be. 

If ever there were a signifier of how un-united the United Kingdom is, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is it.

Yet the devolution of power to our various nations has brought many benefits to those in Wales and Scotland who are living under different rules to England, and highlighted many of the inequalities that Westminster has either created or implemented.

For example, free prescriptions are available in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland; not so in England, unless you have a specific condition that qualifies you for them.

Brexit was a split decision based on inter-nation voting – Northern Ireland and Scotland voting to stay in the EU; England and Wales voting to leave.

Covid-19 itself is so polarising that some families are squabbling among themselves about the approach to the pandemic.

Many will argue that the lockdown is necessary, that it is vital to protect the most vulnerable and reducing the spread of the virus by forcing people on pain of fines to stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary.

Others will argue that if the first lockdown, the use of masks and social distancing was not enough to stop the spread of the virus, what good is another lockdown?

Rather like Brexit, the way that people feel is becoming so entrenched that sensible and respectful debate is almost impossible. Just take a two-minute look at Twitter or Facebook to see what I mean.

Life as we knew it does not look like returning any time soon – if ever – which is hugely damaging mentally for an awful lot of people, especially those who do not believe the data and statistics we are being fed by the government.

However, no matter what your feelings about the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic across the UK, there are definitely some good things that have come out of it.

One of the most beneficial has been the switch for business from working out of offices and other premises to working online as they have been forced to use technology to keep their businesses going.

The use of meeting technology such as Zoom has helped IFA businesses to continue helping clients when they are not able to meet in person.

It has, in effect, created something of a shift in methods, allowing more time to help clients because other things – like travel for example – have become more limited.

It also seems that clients, some of whom may have been reluctant to adopt technology to deal with their finances in the first lockdown, are now more used to this as a concept. As Tim Harvey of HR Independent told Financial Adviser: “No one is panicking...”