Council leader: Covid 'ruthlessly exploited' society's existing problems

David Ellesmere said it would be wrong for councillors to take a pay rise during the current cash cr

David Ellesmere says: 'Allowing the problems of pre-pandemic Britain to continue into the future will leave us a weaker and much diminished country' - Credit: Charlotte Bond

The Beveridge Report, laying out the groundwork for the Welfare State and the National Health Service, was published in 1942 when the Second World War had nearly three years left to run.

The report was started in 1941 by Labour MP Arthur Greenwood when it was not even certain that Britain would be on the winning side.

A post-war plan to deliver a better Britain was essential to give hope for the future and a promise that the suffering and sacrifice of those in the armed forces and at home would be worth it.

Winston Churchill was widely regarded as our greatest war leader, but he was not trusted to implement this new vision so was voted out of office at the end of the war.

This week, prime minister Boris Johnson will set out how England will emerge from the latest, and hopefully the last, lockdown.

But, welcome as the gradual lifting of restrictions will be, we should aim for better than to “get back to normal”.

More than 120,000 people have died so far. Many people have lost their jobs or suffered large drops in income. Children have lost out on months of education.

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Covid has ruthlessly exploited the problems that already existed in our country.

A care system desperately in need of reform has not been able to protect the elderly it is supposed to keep safe. A chronically underfunded NHS has been taken to the brink of collapse. Our private sector has profiteered on PPE and been unable to deliver a properly functioning track and trace system.

Families on low incomes, unable to work from home, without broadband or PCs for their kids have been hit hardest, while others have never been so well off - keeping a steady income without anything to spend it on.

Labour leader Keir Starmer started to set out his vision of a better post-pandemic Britain last week with ideas for a British Recovery Bond, support for new businesses and apprenticeships with significant investment into greening the economy.

This “what next?” thinking is vitally important.

Covid has shown that allowing the problems of pre-pandemic Britain to continue into the future will leave us a weaker and much diminished country.

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