28 July 2021
Dear Richard and Montserrat,
The summer of 1348 brought the Black Death to Britain. It killed half of the population! The Plague kept remerging, especially in London, roughly every 10 years until 1665 the last major outbreak. It took until 1870 to recover the 20 million that originally died in the 1300’s. Between 1350 & 1500 some 1,300 villages were abandoned for the dynamic of towns and cities. The plagues short agonisingly death also killed the indenturing feudal system to irrevocably transform Britain.
Collapsing populations made land valueless. Feudal overlords lost rents and power. The price of food and goods deflated. Only labour, in short supply, was valued being crucially no longer tied to landowners. Masses became financially empowered yeomen free to seek opportunities.
Today’s pandemic with mercifully few deaths is equally transformative being co-joined with a Brexit disjointed Europe and the growing reality of global warming. Change will be quick and profound.
Today’s plague escapees have left the cities and found space for home offices. No more indentured to mandatory office life and mass commuting, significant funds remain in domestic pockets and importantly time for other uses. In this the UK is rebalancing with many re-establishing themselves in the previously beleaguered coastal municipalities and market towns. Whilst locals now find quality properties expensive, the spending power of the escapes will transform local economies. Previously a place to escape from, their young are now applying for city work whose offices they will never attend.
Unlike the 1970’s collapse of heavy industry when manufacturing went to low-paid un-unionised territories, today’s fluid web-based world is governed by internet speed. Crucially, skill and efficiencies now override geography.
As local spending power rises so too are hospitality and service wages. UK hauliers report a need for 100,000 additional drivers on top of an average age of 55. Being vital to the economy conditions and wages are rising here too. Additionally, with de-carbonisation no longer optional, the UK’s rapid embrace of green energy forecasts some 60,000 direct jobs by 2050 latest; all local. Entrepreneurs and start-ups are focusing on post C-19 bio-medicine innovation with diagnostics and AI affordable for trail blazers using local decentralised labs.
15th Century earnings rose as the merchant and free yeomanry burgeoned with innovation. Likewise our increasing numbers of liberated yeomanry now have homes anywhere as the Digital Nomads demonstrate. However, as skilled remote workers (unlike the local based above) can be seamlessly sourced beyond national borders, competition will drive huge increases in skills and efficiency.
HM Treasury Outcome Delivery Plan 2021 to 2022 is, by the same token, looking at deepening its skill base and its efficiencies. A 1% rise in National Insurance is likely inevitable and so too will be demands on greater tax transparency.
Thus todays yeomen must reach for seamless accounting procedures, offsets, tax breaks and R&D allowances. In this they will also need to be as efficient as their skills and self-management. Tax too will be increasingly efficient!
All the Best,