The banks have been bailed out to the tune of billions in the last decade. This has been paid for by workers through vicious austerity. The banks have also been gifted generous tax breaks serving to boost their profits by billions.
There should be no cuts whatsoever to the incomes of working-class people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Mortgage payments should be suspended for the length of this crisis for any person who is suffering from a loss in pay. A similar measure has been introduced in Italy. However, unlike Italy, the payments should not just be delayed – they should be covered by the banks.
Likewise with rent, any household suffering financially in this crisis should have their rent covered by landlords, or in cases of proven need, by a levy on profitable landlords. It is outrageous that many are facing, or worrying about, eviction notices in the context of COVID-19 – with representatives of landlord associations refusing to rule this out, as happened on Morning Ireland on Friday 13 March. There should be an immediate ban on all evictions.
People are rightly being asked to ensure that they take measures to improve hygiene and to spend more time in their homes. This will require many households having to heat their homes more and to use more hot water. No household should have to worry about paying their increased utility bills. Increased costs should be covered by utility companies. It is also the case that many forced to self-isolate, or are stranded in their homes, will need to communicate with friends, family or with those services they require such as online shopping. Again there should be no financial barrier to anyone accessing WIFI or other forms of modern communication.
We should not pay
The bottom line for socialists is that working-class people should not be penalised in any way by the economic fallout of COVID-19. There should be no direct or indirect cut to incomes. Landlords, particularly large and corporate ones, big business, tax-dodging multinationals, banks and the super-rich have amassed enormous sums of wealth and profits in the last decade at our expense. This wealth should now be utilised to ensure that all the needs of working-class people are provided for.