OVER many weeks we have heard countless stories of people coming together to support vulnerable neighbours, showing solidarity and appreciation for those meeting our needs, from ‘Captain Tom’ indefatigably walking around his garden to raise millions for the NHS, to the neighbours who do extra bits of shopping for the 70+ generation to which I belong.

The way we see society has changed.

All this is great. But when we start to get our economy going again we need to find ways to make those changes permanent.

For a start, we need to understand that Covid-19 is not a “Great Leveller” attacking rich and poor alike.

Okay, anyone can be infected, from the Prime Minister to the homeless. But it’s much, much harder if you’re poor.

Those living in tower blocks and small flats will find the lockdown tougher. Those in manual jobs will be unable to work from home. The people taking most risks doing essential jobs tend to be among the lower paid; hospital staff, care home workers, social workers, shelf stackers and check-out staff in supermarkets, recycling workers who take away our food waste and many others (apologies to those I have missed).

They aren’t all among the lower paid but all deserve more than they get.

Not only are they taking more risks while working flat out while I stay at home collecting my pension, but the lower paid are likely to suffer more when we have to pay the economic price of the worst recession of our lifetimes, just as they have suffered most under the ‘austerity’, which followed the bankers’ crash of 2008.

Most of us agree with the principles behind Government decisions to spend hitherto unimaginable sums on state intervention to support workers in order to prioritise saving lives at the expense of the economy, even those who in normal times want a ‘small state’ which leaves everything to ‘the market’.

So, as well as clapping and cheering all our health workers, carers and others who keep our humane civil society going by their work and sacrifice, let’s also work for a social settlement which rewards their work by paying them well and funding the services they provide.