TALK of the coronavirus is inescapable.

It is transcending nearly every area of our lives including family, work, transport, politics, sport, and elsewhere. As expected both the Scottish and UK Governments have stepped in to say they have a plan to limit the spread.

“We will get through this together” Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, claimed on Wednesday as he outlined the UK government’s budget response to the coronavirus. The last time a Tory chancellor said something similar was when imposing austerity in response to the global banking crisis. The similarity may be unfortunate, but it is also quite apt Because without mitigation, an individual’s economic situation will have a huge bearing on how they experience contracting coronavirus or being asked to self-isolate.

I’m sure everyone will have a view on the hoarding of hand sanitiser. But on a serious level, the wider issue of stockpiling food and other essentials in the event of a perceived crisis is a luxury which many in society cannot enjoy. And it goes far beyond food.

As a general rule those who have the most packed cupboards at home will not just be in positions of greater financial security, but also better job security.

All this week my Scottish Green Party colleague Patrick Harvie MSP has been highlighting the pressures being put on those with little or no sick pay, on exploitative wages, and many in the gig economy for whom not working means not earning. The measures outlined in the UK Budget simply do not go far enough to support them. 

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Some banks have announced support for mortgage holders affected. Good news. But what about tenants? Better landlords may respond in kind, but Governments could act to prohibit evictions due to rent arrears for the length of this crisis.

It seems those who have the least, are often being given the least support when a crisis hits them. But it doesn’t have to be that way and we can create a different economic system, one that puts the health and wellbeing of everyone first.

Throughout this outbreak we will as always be heavily reliant on the NHS to perform the invaluable role it does so well. Other public services, including those in the Third Sector like credit unions and Citizens Advice Bureaux will also provide lifeline support for many.

The value of properly-funded universal services, which put people before profit, is clearly evident in helping to cope with sudden shocks like this. But we can go further still, with a universal basic income, as well as extending hard-won workers rights for everyone.

In time, the current coronavirus concerns will recede, but there are other massive challenges ahead for how we live, whether from the climate and ecological emergency or from rapid changes to the job market and the nature of work.

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Recent progress on securing free bus travel for under 19s and the extension of free period products are big steps forward in the campaign for universal basic services.

We need to build on these before we can really say we are all in this together.