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She’s living in temporary accommodation found for her in the city by St. Mungo’s, a homelessness charity, while a plan to get her into permanent housing is on hold.

“I was hoping to move on and sort my life properly but … here we are,” the 50-year old told CNN Business. “I wouldn’t have believed if you had said a year ago that your job’s going to stop in March and that’s it, you might never work doing that again.”

“I’ve really had to lower all of my expectations of life,” she said. “If I knew that in a month I’d be working again, or even in spring … but there doesn’t seem to be anything to look forward to.”

Coronavirus has revealed gaping holes in European social safety nets that are often seen as the gold standard. While many countries introduced support programs for workers affected by the pandemic, people are falling through the cracks. Most often, those who were already suffering the effects of inequality are hit the hardest — lower-income workers, those in insecure jobs, young people, women and minority ethnic groups.

“Some of the social security systems in Europe are more extensive, better developed [than in the United States],” Michael Spence, a Nobel Laureate and former dean of Stanford Business School, told CNN Business.

He said that during the 2008 financial crisis, pre-existing programs involving governments and businesses helped many European countries avoid too many layoffs.

“But I think in the pandemic economy, the shock’s so big that they kind of overwhelm the systems,” he said. “The systems weren’t built to withstand nearly overnight contractions of 25% in economies.”

Unemployment was up by 2.18 million year on year in the European Union in October 2020, rising from a rate of 6.6% to 7.6%. The UK unemployment rate was an estimated 4.8% in the three months to September, up 0.9 percentage points year on year, and 782,000 jobs were lost between March and October, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Insecure work

Lockdowns have seen economies come to an abrupt halt, and benefits systems in many countries have not been able to cope, according to Mike Brewer, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, a British think tank aimed at reducing inequality.

He said the UK welfare state was “inadequate” for this type of crisis, a downturn far beyond the “natural ebbing and flowing of economic activity” of typical recessions.

Women in the UK already earn less than men. The coronavirus is making that worse

The British welfare system was “not very generous” and relied on a fast-moving labor market, he said. “So it wasn’t so much the scale of the pandemic, it was the fact that the pandemic just shut down the labor market … that’s destroyed the premise on which the UK welfare system has been designed.”

Since self-employed and casual workers had few protections under pre-crisis systems, many governments have had to come up with emergency measures — but even these programs are inadequate.

The United Kingdom introduced an employee furlough scheme and a self-employment grant. But many workers who are partly or recently self-employed, freelance or on zero-hours or flexible contracts are ineligible for either.

The programs were “designed in a hurry,” Brewer said; as the pandemic drags on, the gaps are becoming more evident, and more of a problem.

Hospitality, retail and leisure have been worst affected by lockdowns, sectors in which many informal jobs are held by young, low-income or migrant workers.

The disproportionate impact on these workers, coupled with a lack of government support, means the gap between rich and poor is only widening. Members of low-income households are more likely to be out of work and running down their savings, while those in higher-income households, who are more likely to be in secure jobs that can be done from home, grow wealthier as they spend less, said Brewer.

The people worst affected

Countries that are reliant on tourism, such as Portugal, Greece, Spain and Cyprus, have also faced a battering. The sector is often an entry point into work for women, young people, migrant workers and rural populations — and low-skilled, casual and temporary workers are likely to be the first to lose their jobs, according to a United Nations report.
Youth unemployment increased by 404,000 year on year in the European Union in October, according to Eurostat. The most complete recent data for all countries, from August, shows youth unemployment was highest in Spain, at 41.6%, up almost 9 percentage points. Greece hit 39.3%, Italy 31.4% and Portugal saw an 8.7 percentage point rise to 26.8%.

Brewer says it is “harmful to be out of work for long periods” and can have a long-term impact on future employment prospects so “young people now are going to be carrying that scar as they grow older.”

Informal workers are falling through social safety nets, particularly in sectors such as tourism. Pictured, the Acropolis in Athens on November 12 during Greece's second lockdown.
Migrant workers across Europe disproportionately face precarious work and employment conditions, according to the European Federation of Public Service Unions. Joblessness can mean they lose their income, their right to stay in a country and even their homes without access to social benefits — so they are particularly likely to have to risk their health by continuing work. Undocumented migrants do not qualify for any protections.

Abigail Adams-Prassl, an associate professor in economics at the University of Oxford, told CNN Business that women and Black, Asian and other minority ethnic workers were also more likely to slip through the cracks.

Insecure work and work in vulnerable sectors such as social care is disproportionately done by non-White groups in Britain,” she said, adding that there was good evidence that “people who identify as non-White face a bigger economic shock than those identified as White.”
This is coupled with the fact that they are more likely to become seriously ill or die from Covid-19.

Adams-Prassl said the ability to work from home also depends on domestic duties.

These families cherished multi-generational living. But Covid-19 has wrecked it

Childcare falls disproportionately on women, and the virus has often meant that children cannot attend school or childcare, says Adams-Prassl. She said the pandemic has exacerbated the financial shortfall for many UK childcare providers and there had been “nothing in terms of a targeted package of support for that sector or thinking about how to really support the employment of caregivers.”

Women’s groups have repeatedly raised the issue that social security systems can be problematic for those in abusive relationships, she added. “If you’ve got a partner who didn’t lose their job, or who might have savings of their own, that can mean that you’re ineligible for these forms of government support,” said Adams-Prassl, adding that these patterns were also seen in France and Italy.

“All of these things existed beforehand,” she said. “It’s the fact that I guess it has affected many more people over the pandemic and it’s just been so stark has made many, many more people aware of these issues. I think there’s still a very long way to go in terms of thinking about what the policy response is.”

Increasing existing inequalities

In Italy, this inequality can be seen in stark relief along geographical lines. While the richer north of the country was initially hit the hardest by the pandemic, the financial damage has been worst for the poorest households, which are more widespread in the south, according to the Bank of Italy.
Employment has dropped more in the south, where people are more likely to be in temporary jobs or roles that are more exposed to the effects of the pandemic, the November report found.
The government launched loans, subsidies and wage supplementation programs in March, but Valentina Meliciani, director of the Luiss School of European Political Economy in Rome, says high levels of public debt gave the country “a limited capability to respond to the crisis” and reach everyone.
Borrowing is dirt cheap. These countries are cashing in

“Government interventions worked in the formal sector but less so with informal sector workers,” she said, citing the examples of the tourism sector and migrant workers. “The problem is that it is very difficult to catch these people because they do not show up at all in the statistics.”

She said Italy was already a “quite divided country” with the North and the center on one side, and the Mezzogiorno (south) on the other.

The southern region is fast becoming poorer. Public policies are less effective, students are lagging behind in education and fewer homes have fast broadband.

Meliciani said the southern regions “will suffer the most” in the long term. She said that to stop poverty increasing after the pandemic, government policies must address structural problems in the south, including the digital divide.

She said companies in the south needed incentives or tax relief to allow them to invest in digital technologies or other areas that could help them survive the crisis.

Modeling led by Oxford University in July found that two months of lockdown plus six months of restrictions would result in a mean wage loss rate for the poor of up to 16.2%. Cyprus was the European country where inequality increased most under several different pandemic scenarios, with a loss rate of up to 22.4% for the poor.

“There is considerable inequality in Cyprus in terms of income, wealth, employment, opportunities, and what I would call intergenerational gaps,” Leslie Manison, a former senior economist at the International Monetary Fund and ex-advisor in the Cyprus Ministry of Finance, told CNN Business.

He said the government had introduced measures such as subsidizing salaries of employees in companies that had suspended their operations, and people in the informal sector often weren’t eligible despite being worse affected by Covid.

“The subsidies haven’t been connected, you could say, with active labor policies on retraining and so on, compared with a country like Germany,” he added.

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Pelosi to move forward with impeachment if Pence doesn’t act to remove Trump

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“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi said in the letter to Democrats on Sunday night laying out next steps.

The House will try to pass a measure on Monday imploring Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, through which he and the Cabinet declare Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the Vice President would immediately exercise powers as acting president.” If Republicans object, as is virtually certain, Democrats will pass the bill via a roll call vote on Tuesday.

“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”

But it’s not clear when exactly the Senate will take up the House’s measure. The Senate isn’t scheduled to return until Jan. 19, but will hold pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday. In theory, a senator could try to pass the House resolution by unanimous consent, but as of now it appears unlikely that it would pass.

On Monday, multiple House Democrats plan to introduce impeachment resolutions that would become the basis of any impeachment article considered by the House later this week.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will introduce an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, said on Sunday that roughly 200 Democrats have co-sponsored the measure.

Currently, 211 voting members (plus three nonvoting members) support Cicilline’s legislation, and they are hoping to reach 217 voting members by Monday morning, enough for the House to impeach Trump, one Democratic source familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

A small number of Democrats have opted not to co-sign the bill, but privately say they will vote to support the resolution on the floor, the source added.

The impeachment effort in the House is likely to be bipartisan, with Democrats expecting at least one GOP lawmaker — Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to sign on. A handful of other House Republicans are seriously weighing it, according to several sources, though those lawmakers are waiting to see how Democrats proceed, and some are concerned about dividing the country even further.

Among the GOP members whom Democrats are keeping an eye on are Reps. John Katko of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.

Across the Capitol, at least two Republicans — Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have called on Trump to resign. On Saturday, Toomey told Fox News, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” but told CNN the next day that he does not believe there is enough time to impeach.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has also said he would consider articles of impeachment.

Another option has emerged among some Republican and moderate Democratic circles — censuring Trump — though it remains highly unlikely to advance.

A censure resolution would gain far more support in the GOP than impeachment. Some Republicans have privately been pushing for that route and are trying to get Biden on board, according to GOP sources. That group of Republicans is also warning that impeachment could destroy Biden’s reputation with Republicans.

But censure is considered a nonstarter in an incensed House Democratic Caucus, where members see it as a slap on the wrist that gives Republicans an easy out.

The Democrats’ enormous step toward impeachment on Sunday comes after Pelosi and other top Democrats held a private call on Saturday night in which they discussed the potential ramifications that a lengthy impeachment trial could have on Biden’s presidency.

Democratic leaders discussed several options to limit the political effects on Biden’s first 100 days, with one option — floated by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — for the House to delay the start of an impeachment trial in the Senate by holding on to the article of impeachment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sent out a memo to senators explaining that the Senate could not take up impeachment until Jan. 19 at the earliest, absent unanimous consent.

A final decision has not been made, and House Democrats will discuss the matter on a 2 p.m. caucus call on Monday.

Lawmakers are already privately expressing concerns about returning to the Capitol for multiple days this week, worried about both a potential coronavirus outbreak and whether the building is secure, given how easily an armed pro-Trump mob invaded on Wednesday.

The Capitol physician urged House lawmakers and staff to get tested in a memo Sunday, saying they might have been exposed to someone who had the virus while huddling for safety in a large committee room for hours on Wednesday. During the hourslong lockdown, several Republican members refused to wear masks despite being offered them by Democrats worried about the spread of the deadly virus.

Melanie Zanona, Olivia Beavers and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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Matt Hancock Scraps “Unnecessary Training Modules” Blamed For Slowing Vaccine Rollout

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Matt Hancock has agreed to remove some of the training modules required for volunteers to sign up to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine (PA)

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Matt Hancock said people will no longer need to undertake training including an anti-terrorism course to give the coronavirus jab after MPs said “bureaucratic rubbish” was delaying mass vaccination.

It comes as MPs called for the government to produce targets for the number of people given immunity before lockdown can be lifted.

The health secretary said a series of “unnecessary training modules” are being scrapped to speed up the process of getting people qualified to deliver the jab.

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said he was shown by his fellow the Tory MP, a qualified GP, the “ridiculous form” he had filled out to start delivering the vaccine.

“When he’s inoculating an old lady, he’s not going to ask her if she’s come into contact with Jihadis or whatever, so the Secretary has got to cut through all this bureaucratic rubbish,” he said.

In response Mr Hancock said: “I am a man after Sir Edward’s heart and I can tell the House that we have removed a series of the unnecessary training modules that had been put in place, including fire safety, terrorism and others.

“I’ll write to him with the full panoply of the training that is not required and we have been able to remove, and we made this change as of this morning and I am glad to say it is enforced.

“I am a fan of busting bureaucracy and in this case I agree with him that it is not necessary to undertake anti-terrorism training in order to inject vaccines.”

Dr Fox had earlier challenged Boris Johnson to drop the “bureaucracy” and “political correctness” of the forms vaccine volunteers must fill out.

He told MPs: “As a qualified but non-practising doctor, I volunteered to help with the scheme and would urge others to do the same. 

“But, can I ask the Prime Minister why I’ve been required to complete courses on conflict resolution, equality, diversity and human rights, moving and handling loads and preventing radicalisation in order to give a simple Covid jab?”

Mr Johnson said he had been “assured by the Health Secretary that all such obstacles, all such pointless pettifoggery has been removed”.

The government has been attempting to recruit thousands of volunteers to help with a mass vaccination programme, and with the recent approval of the more easily deliverable Oxford/AstraZeneca version has today revealed the location of seven mass vaccination centres set to open next week.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists at a briefing they would be at Robertson House in Stevenage, the ExCel Centre in London, the Centre for Life in Newcastle, the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester, Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol and Millennium Point in Birmingham, and it is expected they will be run with a combination of NHS staff and volunteers.

But so far the government has not said how many people need to be inoculated before it has an impact on the coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Hancock was asked by a number of MPs if the measures could be eased once the top few tiers in the vaccine priority list had been clear.

Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper said once the top four groups, which includes care home residents and staff, frontline NHS workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and everyone over 70 “we’ve taken care therefore of 80% of the risk of death”.

Adding: “What possible reason is there at that point for not rapidly relaxing the restrictions that are in place on the rest of our country?”

The health secretary replied: “We have to see the impact of that vaccination on the reduction in the number of deaths, which I very much hope that we will see at that point, and so that is why we will take this – an evidence-led move down through the tiers, when we’ve broken the link, I hope, between cases and hospitalisations and deaths.”

The ex-Tory minister and another doctor, Andrew Murrison, said: “The logic of anticipating what is going to happen in two or three or four weeks’ time from the number of cases we are getting at the moment is that we can do the same in reverse.

“That is to say, when we have a sufficient number of people vaccinated up we can anticipate in two or three or four weeks’ time how many deaths have been avoided. 

“That means, since it cuts both ways he will be able to make a decision on when we should end these restrictions.”

Mr Hancock replied: “The logic of the case that Dr Murrison makes is the right logic and we want to see that happen in empirical evidence on the ground.

“This hope for the weeks ahead doesn’t take away, though, from the serious and immediate threat posed now.”

The Cabinet minister said the challenge for the government is to increase the amount of doses available, claiming “the current rate-limiting factor on the vaccine rollout is the supply of approved, tested, safe vaccine”.

He added: ”We are working with both AstraZeneca and Pfizer to increase that supply as fast as possible and they’re doing a brilliant job.”

But Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to ramp up its vaccination programme to six million doses a week.

He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has promised almost 14 million will be offered the vaccine by mid-Feb. That depends on around two million doses a week on average.

“Both [Mr Hancock] and the Prime Minister have reassured us in recent days that it’s doable based on orders.

“But in the past ministers have told us that they had agreements for 30 million AstraZeneca doses by September 2020 and 10 million of Pfizer doses by the end of 2020.

“So, I think people just want to understand the figures and want clarity. Can ministers tell us how many of the ordered doses have been manufactured?”

Mr Ashworth added: “Two million a week would be fantastic but it should be the limit of our ambitions, we should be aiming to scale up to three, then five, then six million jabs a week over the coming months.”

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How South African police are tackling pangolin smugglers


Quiet, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has few natural enemies, but researchers believe it is the most trafficked mammal in the world. The tough scales covering its body are sought after for use in Chinese medicine, in the erroneous belief that they have healing properties.

The animal has also been of interest to researchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Related viruses have been found in trafficked pangolins, though there is continued uncertainty around early theories that pangolins were involved in the transmission of the virus from animals to humans.

After South African police seized a pangolin from suspected smugglers, BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding witnessed how vets tried to save the animal’s life.

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