When chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed to "balance the books" in his virtual Conservative Conference speech on Monday, the tone was one of reassurance.
The reality, however, is more menacing. Balancing the books in a post-pandemic world will mean a lot more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. From tax rises to austerity, the path back to financial strength is likely to be a brutal one.
Meanwhile, as Britain's small businesses grappled with the realities of a new, less generous furlough scheme, and millions of self-employed tried to work out how to get by on a further support payment of just 20 per cent of income, the Resolution Foundation thinktank warned a staggering six million families will find themselves worse off if the government pushes ahead with its plan to reverse a rise in Universal Credit and tax credits come April.
It's a grim picture. But is there another way?
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