AFTER a couple of months of lockdown, we now have the very tentative measures of how we start the long and complicated journey back to a normal life.

It will not be simple. It is possible that unlocking the country is more complicated than locking it.

Open up too quickly and deaths start rise again, potentially putting everyone at risk. Too slowly and we cause more damage to our economy. Lives versus livelihoods.

A leaked report from the Treasury shed quite a light on the problems facing the Chancellor. Whilst the base cost to the government is in the order of £340 billion, there are even more costs depending on how we recover.

Our economy will shrink by around a third because of the lockdown. That is an unprecedented amount.

But the measures brought in by the government are designed to put the economy in hibernation.

When we re-awaken it all, we should go straight back to where we were before. That’s the theory.

The practice is more complicated. There will have been lasting damage to jobs and businesses and the speed of our recovery is crucial to limiting damage.

Economists refer to three types of recovery: the V-shaped recovery, quick and the least damaging; the U-shape, a bit slower, but a full recovery eventually; and the L-shape, long lasting and very slow to recover.

The V-shape is an extra £220 billion, whilst the L-shape would result in an extra £1.2 trillion of debt over 5 years.

The Treasury suggests a few ways of recovering that money, though cuts and tax rises. They are suggestions, not recommendations, but include a lot of unpalatable suggestions that are non-starters.

However, what the document does not suggest is how to stimulate demand in the economy.

Hiking VAT or income tax will only serve to limit people’s spending power. That is why I have written to the PM to suggest a limited tax cut, designed to stimulate the demand side of our economy, to get things started quickly.

Get it right, and the V-shaped recovery is achieved and we start to get back to normal quicker. But if taxes are hiked, limiting demand side expenditure, we risk having an L-shaped recovery, damaging all that people have worked for over the last decade since the last crisis.

It is not easy, but brave action is needed.