With the coronavirus crisis continuing to expand, local government is once again proving its importance to the nation.
Councils up and down the country are designing new services and local initiatives to support the efforts to help those at greater risk, all the while maintaining the delivery of key services on which every citizen relies.
“Local government continues to innovate, approaching the crisis with adaptiveness and resilience”
As the nationwide lockdown becomes the ‘new normal’, local government continues to innovate, approaching the crisis with adaptiveness and resilience.
It is only right that I offer my own thanks to the brilliant councillors and council officers who have gone above and beyond in recent weeks.
The way councils have stepped up has been remarkable, though no-one who has worked alongside local government will have been surprised. Offering immediate, strong leadership, councils have rapidly responded to the pandemic, reducing strain on the NHS and working to reduce the likelihood of vulnerable groups coming into contact with the virus.
The incredible coordination between local authorities, volunteer groups, and the community now offers vital protection to more than a million people who have been identified as high risk by the NHS and are confined to their homes for 12 weeks.
What a shame that it takes such a crisis for so many in government to understand the crucial role of local councils and the incredible ability of the people who work for them.
While this is not a time for politics or recrimination, it is evident to everyone that the capacity of local government has been clearly reduced by a decade of unnecessary austerity measures.
Council officers have done incredibly well to respond but are being stretched impossibly thin. When we get through this crisis – and we will get through it – and the inevitable public inquiry is held, people will not understand why the warnings about continual cuts to local government were ignored for so long and with no thought to the consequences.