As we approach the end of 2020, it is time to reflect on what we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of this crisis, everybody in local government heard the same message from the Chancellor – that councils should do “whatever it takes” to tackle coronavirus.
We are working more from home and, sorry to say, for longer periods of time.
Our Independent Group members have been very clear on what is needed from the Spending Review, starting with certainty. Thus, the Chancellor’s statement covering only one year falls short.
Without doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has made us re-evaluate our relationship with the environment and has led us to identify the associated threat of biodiversity loss and climate change.
Many in local government welcomed the announcement of the new tier system a few weeks ago, hoping that it would bring simplicity and clarity to councils, residents and businesses subject to restrictions.
We saw the Prime Minister announce in October the new three-tier system, under which every area of the country will be classified as ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk during the continuing COVID-19 crisis.
As local lockdowns continue to be put in place, including the whole of Wales, we have again asked the Government to ensure local leaders are at the forefront of decision-making – something ministers have agreed and need to uphold.
Following recent ministerial changes at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, I would like to congratulate Luke Hall MP on his appointment as Regional Growth and Local Government Minister and welcome Kelly Tolhurst MP to the team as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing.
As I predicted, test and trace has become a joke in many parts of the country.