For a politician who’s risen to prominence in a time of tribulation, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has still managed to be something of a ray of light.
He managed to soothe the fears of millions of workers and employers with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and later - thought not quite to the same extent - assuaged the fears of the self-employed with the self-employed income support scheme (SEISS).
That ability to shine continued today in the Summer Statement and its crowd-pleasing initiatives - though there was a dollop of medicine between the spoonfuls of sugar as he ruled out any extension of the Job Retention Scheme.
There is a temporary cut in VAT on food, accommodation and visitor attractions from 20% to 5% - a much bigger reduction than anticipated though alcohol isn’t included in the concession.
Many had called for a VAT cut as a temporary measure to help the economy - former Chancellor Alistair Darling cut the rate from 17.5% to 15% in all sectors during the last recession.
Going as low as 5% for this recession is a bold approach but the fact that it’s not been imposed across the board and is limited to hospitality has already been lamented.
The Eat Out to Help Out voucher scheme will give £10 off per head if you eat out between Monday and Wednesdays during August and is another headline grabber.
The ‘Kick-Start’ Scheme which will reward employers for taking on young people is another crowd-pleaser and gift to headline-writers but doesn’t automatically apply here in Northern Ireland.
There is plenty to celebrate in the statement but there was a harsh reality check as well. Justifying why he wasn’t extending the Coronavirus Job Retention Schemem, Mr Sunak said to do so was giving people on the scheme “false hope” that they would still have a job to go back to at the end of the scheme.
Better to have your hope dashed sooner than later, eh.
But even that medicine was sweetened by the announcement of the Coronavirus Job Bonus Scheme, with employers getting a £1,000 bonus for bringing workers back off furlough provided they remain in employment for three months at least, and are paid at least £520 a month.
The government’s carefully-calibrated life support machine is still going, but for furloughed workers, it may be an uneasy summer ahead.