Great Britain

Rishi Sunak orders officials to publish economic cost alongside daily Covid bulletins

THE Chancellor has ordered Treasury officials to publish the economic cost of coronavirus alongside daily data on the deadly bug.

Rishi Sunak has called for civil servants to find ways to show Brits the 'other trade-offs' as half of people living in England face strict new lockdowns until tiers two and three.

And financial figures could be published alongside tolls reporting deaths and new cases.

Those figures are currently only available to ministers.

Officials have been examining the best way to use economic data to ‘contextualise’ the information presented to the public since the start of lockdown, Mail on Sunday reports.

This could mean that the Treasury's internal calculations, or economic data from independent forecaster the Office for Budget Responsibility, could be shown.

And now Tory sources say they fear younger people's lives are being "trashed" - as the average age of a coronavirus victim is revealed to be higher than the average life expectancy.

Covid has so far cost the country more than £200billion.

In addition, 673,000 Brits have lost their jobs, and since February, GDP has dropped 9.2 per cent.

It's understood Mr Sunak plans to show the public the 'hit on GDP' of taking a region between tiers, or introducing a national 'circuit breaker' lockdown.

This month, the Treasury’s chief economic adviser Clare Lombardelli presented models showing the huge impact a second national lockdown would have to ministers.

This data reportedly led to the Government deciding not to impose a circuit-breaker - despite strong calls from senior politicians including Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Boris Johnson and his top scientists have repeatedly resisted pressure to impose new national restrictions.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, the MP who chairs the Commons Liaison Committee, told the paper: "The Government must be looking at both Covid and economic statistics.

"Publishing both to explain the basis of decisions would instil public confidence.

"It would lead to better public understanding and so better compliance with the restrictions and bring much-needed balance to the debate about how we should respond."

But not all politicians back the plans.

Baroness Altmann, the Conservative peer and former Pensions Minister, said: "It’s not about Covid deaths versus the economy.

"It is about deaths versus deaths."

A source close to Mr Sunak said: "We have spent more than £200billion already over the past months. We have to be sensible.

"The view, not just in the Treasury but across Government, is that it is our responsibility to make clear to people, for them to grasp what the balancing act and the trade-offs that the Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are having to make every day."

Another said: "The average age for Covid deaths is higher than average life expectancy."

And a Tory MP said: "We are trashing the lives of young people to save 80-year-olds."

The average age of those who have died from coronavirus in England and Wales since the start of the pandemic is 82.4, analysis by University of Oxford researchers using Office for National Statistics (ONS) data has shown.

Life expectancy in the UK is 79.4 years for men and 83.1 for women, according to the latest ONS report.

Earlier this week, Mr Sunak revealed a fresh bumper furlough package which will pay even more wages to save the nation's boozers and restaurants - splashing out an extra £8billion.

New ‘tier 4’ Covid restrictions ‘could close restaurants and non-essential shops’ if current rules fail to stop virus

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