A new report by the Legatum Institute provides a proof of concept for a holistic assessment of the impact of COVID-19 and the Government’s policy responses.
The Legatum Institute is a London-based think-tank which aims to create a global movement of people committed to creating the pathways from poverty to prosperity and the transformation of society.
About the framework
The framework is based on the methodology of the Legatum Prosperity IndexTM, which analyses the drivers of prosperity around the world. It assesses the impacts of COVID-19 across a range of factors including:
- Direct health effects associated with mortality and illness from the virus itself
- Indirect physical and mental health effects associated with changes in health service and care system provision, and behaviour and health impacts that are related to the pandemic but are not caused by the virus itself.
- Economic effects associated with lost economic output, incomes, and productivity.
- Education effects associated with school closures and disruption to the provision of education in other settings.
- Wider impacts that can cover a multitude of areas where the pandemic and people’s responses to it (in terms of chosen or enforced changes in behaviour) lead to impacts on wellbeing.
The framework looks at both short- and long-term impacts. It also presents it’s findings in a way that allows the impacts across these different areas to be considered together.
Impacts of COVID-19 and Government responses to date
Using the Lagatum Institute’s framework to assess the period between 21st March and 4th November 2020, the report identifies a wide range of short- and long-term impacts on people and families across England. These include:
- More than 50,000 people in England had lost their lives to the virus.
- More than 100,000 people could be impacted by ‘long-Covid’.
- The estimated combined loss of economic output over the short- and long-term was valued at £550bn.
- There had been more than 150 days of significant disruptions to schooling, leading to short- and long-term impact on learning and opportunities.
- There had been a 17% increase in average anxiety scores.
- There had been a 5% reduction in average life satisfaction scores.
Overall, the report finds that the short and long-term impacts on health, the economy, and society between 21st March and 4th November resulted in a hit to wellbeing in England worth close to £800bn, based on the Treasury’s standard conversion factor of £60,000 for one Quality Adjusted Life Year.
Between 5th November and 2nd December, during the English national lockdown, there was an additional hit to wellbeing worth nearly £90bn.
The way forward
CEO of the Legatum Institute, Conservative member of the House of Lords, Baroness Philippa Stroud, said: “COVID-19 has fundamentally impacted all of us; through our health, our relationships, and our livelihoods. As we approach Christmas, we must not forget that many families will be remembering loved ones who have passed during the pandemic”.
“We must also remember that the costs of the pandemic and the Government’s responses to it will have long-term consequences for the health, livelihoods, and wellbeing of individuals and families right across the UK. This means it is essential that policymakers are making decisions with the right tools and information at their disposal to understand the impact of the different options available”.
Dr Stephen Brien, Director of Policy at the Legatum Institute added: “Without the action of Government, there is no doubt that more people would have died as a result of the pandemic this year. However, our report shows that this action to limit the short-term deaths from the virus has come at a cost. Alongside the economic impacts of restrictions on mobility, work, and social mixing, the cost includes the cancellation of other medical procedures, the mental health impacts of social isolation and reduced incomes, and the long-term mortality impacts associated with economic crises and recessions”.
“Although it is hugely challenging, Government policy should look to consider all of these impacts and follow a path that is most likely to lead to the best overall wellbeing outcomes across the UK.
“This report shows that a holistic impact assessment tool can be developed to help policymakers make these incredibly difficult decisions”.
“A tool such as this does not on its own provide the answer to difficult policy questions, but it does provide invaluable input by allowing the range of issues to be considered in a consistent way. It also ensures that assumptions are surfaced and made more transparent – and in doing so it can help broaden the range of options considered”.
A call to action for Government
Dr Brien concluded: “Following the publication of this report we are calling for Government to do three things:
1) to adopt and develop the proof of concept and use it to inform future policymaking with regards to Covid-19;
2) to establish and publish a mobility index, showing the overall level of the public’s movements and social interactions and how these vary in different localities, which can help the public understand how much to reduce their mobility;
3) to use the framework and mobility index, alongside existing information on localised infection rates and hospital capacity, to determine appropriate responses at a local level.”
More detail on the methodology and results from this proof of concept can be found in the main body of the report, which is available on the website: www.li.com/reports/developing-