I am sure many of us will be glad to see the back of yet another year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. From the awful loss of loved ones, friends and colleagues to widening health inequalities, economic turmoil and worsening mental health, COVID-19 has impacted every part of our lives.
But 2021 was also a year when, yet again, we saw the very best of local government demonstrated day in and day out, as we kept key public services running and protected and supported local residents and businesses.
This time last year, we were back in a full national lockdown, but the approval and rollout of the first vaccines provided a reason for hope.
Councils have since played a crucial role in promoting vaccine (and now booster) uptake, using their knowledge of their communities to address low take-up rates and vaccine resistance.
Local knowledge has also been key to supporting businesses through lockdowns and economic downturns. The local distribution of government-funded grants during the pandemic has forged stronger links and better understanding between businesses and councils that will help rebuild and renew our high streets and town centres in the future.
Councils acted rapidly to help rough sleepers off the streets, as part of ‘Everyone in’, and are using the lessons learned from this initiative to make sure it is not just a one-off emergency response to homelessness.
Despite the pressures of the pandemic, local government continues to look to a better future, with the sector proving influential at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and continuing to tackle the climate emergency locally.
Local leaders have shown throughout the pandemic that they are well placed to deliver the best outcomes for local communities. Imagine how much more they could do with adequate long-term resources, new powers and freedoms – we have at the LGA, and will continue to work tirelessly to help you change our communities for the better.