THE Standard Life Foundation (SLF) has published the results of its UK financial impact tracker.

It’s a representative survey of 6500 people across the UK looking at how the pandemic has affected personal income and its likely impact on household finances over the new few months.

It makes for grim reading.

Almost one third of all households are experiencing financial difficulties. That translates into 4.8m households struggling to make ends meet and a further 3.1m in serious financial difficulty.

Four in 10 people who had lost some or all of their income because of Covid-19 said they wouldn’t benefit from the government’s furlough or ­self-employed schemes.

Looking down the timeline this year, it’s equally troubling that another 10.4m households in the UK have little financial resilience and are vulnerable to future financial shocks.

A comparable survey has been carried out in Norway – with other countries planning similar ones – New Zealand is currently ingathering its data.

Almost two thirds of Norwegian households are financially secure during the crisis.

That is double the position in the UK and is due to a more equal and progressive welfare system. Norwegian unemployed benefit is paid at two-thirds of your final salary.

It comes as no surprise that the SLF survey reveals the three most likely groups of people in society to be in serious financial trouble are those who rent; those with disabilities; and those in the gig economy with little employment rights.

I believe we need a campaign to ensure that any exit plan from the pandemic has social justice at its heart.

We have an economic downturn. The question is how long will it last? The best-case scenario would be if the pandemic ended soon but even then, the recovery would be V-shaped over months.

Other recovery projections realistically envisage the possibility of one to two years, and let’s not forget the unquantified trade impact of when the Brexit transition period ends.

Accordingly, we need to begin a detailed conversation about what Scotland could and should do to put social justice at the heart of our plan out of the Covid-19 crisis. Govan Law Centre (GLC) has 10 immediate calls for action.

The UK Government recently invested an extra £1.6 billion to support council services in England with £155m in Barnett consequentials going to the Scottish Government. These funds should go to Scottish councils to deliver front line services.

We’ve managed to accommodate rough sleepers and those with no recourse to public funds during the pandemic. This funding must continue. People mustn’t be thrown back out on our streets.

All key and public service workers should be provided with proper supplies of PPE in order to carry out and return to their duties safely.

UK health and safety law should be updated so it’s clear the provision of PPE is a matter of legal right until a vaccine is disseminated.

Non-residential care services (community care) should be restored for disabled and elderly people as soon as possible with the appropriate PPE safeguards.

GLC supports the STUC’s call for an extra £2 per hour for key workers and an uplift to £10 per hour for the National Minimum Wage. This should be implemented using devolved powers, with a campaign to encourage all employers to do so.

Employment law should be devolved to Scotland as soon as possible so workers with no rights can be protected.

The Scottish Government should use the Carer’s Allowance Supplement to recognise the unpaid work of carer’s who have had no support or respite. The frequency and amount of payments should be increased.

The Scottish Government should introduce a new form of Covid-19 debt relief to enable appropriate debt write-downs for vulnerable consumers caused by the pandemic with no impact on personal credit ratings.

Scotland needs a new expedited version of the Debt Arrangement Scheme to enable increased indebtedness caused by Covid-19 to be repaid on an interest free basis, over a reasonable period, with no impact on personal credit ratings.

The Scottish Parliament should support Pauline McNeill’s Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill. As we transition out of lockdown, we need to ensure private rents do not exceed inflation. Tenants should also have a right to seek a rent increase moratorium on cause shown.

Relevant housing legislation in Scotland should be amended so that arrears directly due to Covid-19 cannot be founded upon as a ground of eviction or repossession.

No homeowner, housing association, council or private tenant should be evicted because of the consequences of the pandemic.

Lastly, the Scottish Government should ensure that there is appropriate capacity for the increased demand for free legal advice and representation when the UK furlough scheme ends.

This should include community law centres and other solicitors, with more capacity for legal remedies for women and children subject to domestic abuse.