Let’s all go for a new bank holiday – the UK can afford it
Do you need cheering up after months of reading about the world financial crisis? Would the prospect of another holiday help lift your spirits?
August bank holiday is now just a dim memory and Christmas is still too far away to start counting the days on the wall of my office. This long haul is just one of the reasons why the TUC is campaigning to make the last Monday of October the new Community Day bank holiday.
Find out more about the Community Day campaign – www.communityday.org.uk
What we have in mind is a celebration of voluntary and community activity that will involve both national events and local community fairs that will allow community groups, charities, sports clubs, youth groups, unions and everybody else working for local people can set out their stalls.
To get the tone of Community Day, imagine a cross between the millennium celebrations and red nose day. In short, we will be giving a boost to community organisation whilst having a good time.
All the voluntary and community umbrella groups are behind the proposal and we are lobbying the main political parties to get the idea adopted.
Now you may be thinking at this point “well that’s quite a nice idea, but isn’t it just pie in the sky to think about a new bank holiday at a time when the economy is under threat?”.
The beauty of Community day is that it would not be drain on the economy. There are three main reasons:
- businesses that trade on bank holidays, such as the leisure, tourism and retail sectors have their best days of the year. This group adds up to nearly a million businesses – just under 1 in 4 UK enterprises.
- Community Day would also bring further economic benefits to the UK through increased volunteering. The TUC estimates that this could be worth up to £500 million per year.
- Employee involvement in volunteering also creates personnel benefits for employers in terms of enhanced skills, networking and fitness
The net result is that if Community Day were to be introduced during the current slowdown, providing that all the planning had been done to in good time, it would actually be cost-neutral in economic terms.
However, if the Government does adopt Community Day – and why would they not adopt a proposal that has the support of more than 90% of voters – then we will need at least a year to prepare for a national event of this scale. It follows that the earliest realistic date for launching Community Day will be October 2010, by which time the UK economy should be growing strongly again.
We’ve all worked hard during the last few years so its time to get something back. Let’s get the decision to have Community Day made now. We will still have to wait a couple of years before we can enjoy the new holiday, but at least we will have something to look forward to.