This week sees the end of the second lockdown, and the move to the new tier system. It also follows on from the autumn budget statement, the like of which we have never seen before.

Last week’s statement was dire. The annual budget deficit at the height of the financial crisis was £156 billion, back in 2010. This year it will be a little under £400 billion, suffering under government measures to help the economy through a catastrophic downturn in the economy. The last time we saw an economic collapse of this order was back in the Great Frost of 1709. Like that period over 300 years ago, this has been brought about by a natural disaster – a global pandemic.

There has been a lot of hyperbole, not least the BBC talking about the UK “maxing out on its credit card”. A number of economic academics have fired back, pointing out that the UK government still has a lot of credit left. The UK government can still borrow at stunningly low interest rates and still has plenty of headroom to borrow more, but the challenge to the Chancellor is to, one this crisis is passed, keep the broth of debt at a level lower than the growth of our economy.

So we will have to see rises in taxes at some point, but key is to get the economy going as soon as possible. Indeed, many of us argue that the last thing we need is to stifle growth by hiking taxes. Far better to get the economy booming first.

The problem is that we are still deep in the pandemic. As we come out of Lockdown II, we find ourselves in complicated tier systems. Whilst there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon in the form of vaccinations, we still have to keep this virus under control until the vaccination programme – yet to be rolled out – has generated herd immunity.

The tiering programme will, inevitably, put yet more pressure on businesses. The retail sector occasionally refers to December as the 13th month, when Christmas sales double the average monthly revenue. The same applies to the hospitality sector. This year, this incredibly important period will be a shadow of what is needed.

Without dealing with the virus once and for all, we will not be able to move on. I completely understand all the arguments about mental health challenges, business stresses and the lack of human interaction. But the political decision is always difficult: a lot of pain now, but very quick; or less pain but for a far longer period?