As the Department for Health lowers the coronavirus alert level from a “four” to a “three”, there are cautious signs of optimism that the health crisis, brought about by the COVID-19, is coming under control. Lock down and social distancing measures appear to have worked; today, NHS intensive care units (ICUs) across the UK now have less than 500 patients on ventilators – at the peak of the crisis, this figure was well over 3,000.
But while the spread of the virus has slowed, the health crisis has begun to morph into a social and economic crisis.
This week, we saw the latest set of unemployment figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), revealing that over 600,000 people lost their jobs between March to May. Meanwhile, jobless claims under Universal Credit jumped to 2.8 million in May alone, marking a 125.9% increase since the beginning of lock down.
We have been helping to lead a national cross-industry campaign on the issue, calling on UK Government to create a new ‘Opportunity Guarantee‘ for the unemployed, and to help support the UK’s longer-term economic recovery. You can read the cross-industry letter in The Sunday Times here.
The next two months will prove critical if the UK’s economy is able to bounce back quickly. The Bank of England’s new £100bn stimulus package, announced yesterday, aims to help the UK weather the economic storm, and navigate out of what is widely expected to be one of its deepest-ever recessions.
The next few weeks will prove critical for all UK organisations – regardless of sector, size and focus. With the shockwaves of the initial health crisis subsiding, businesses need to now be ready for the next stage of the COVID-19 challenge and help define their future survival. Private, public and third sector bodies should all now be acting on:
- Working with Government and key stakeholders: provide evidence and insight to the challenges facing your industry. Although it may feel an overused term, this crisis is truly ‘unprecedented’. Government and policy makers have never faced a challenge of this nature or scale and proactive Government engagement now will enable your organisation to help shape the policy and support both your industry and the future of your business. We are currently supporting six industry taskforces, working with Government departments, sector bodies and leading businesses to shape the UK’s economic and social response to coronavirus.
- Understanding what matters to your customers, your employees and stakeholders: the needs of your audience have changed, and they will continue to evolve over the months ahead. Ensure that your business priorities are re-aligned to meet these new needs – failure to do so will limit business survival in the longer-term.
- Investing in the right channels to market: just as your audience needs have changed, your routes to market and reach across communication channels need to adapt. Over the past few months’, we have helped businesses communicate through different channels to support business continuity. Make sure your organisation’s communications and engagement is ‘proactively’ adapting now, enabling you to be competitively placed for the challenges that lie ahead.
- Understanding, auditing and critically reviewing your organisation’s reputation and crisis preparedness: as the world continues to undergo considerable change, understanding how your business is able to respond, and where any future risks lie will be critical for future business continuity. We have just launched a Crisis Diagnostics service, which provides businesses with the opportunity to evaluate strategic and operational strengths and weaknesses, enabling a strategic re-alignment to respond effectively to future and anticipated issues.
If you’d like help with any of the challenges that your organisation is facing as a result of COVID-19 then please get in touch.