To what extent has your experience of Covid-19 been impacted by your own starting points or those of your local community?
Clouds of austerity
How have the cuts in public funding impacted you, your family and your local community over the last decade?
A decade of severe cuts to public services has seen central Government funding of Local Authorities halved. This has made it harder to access vital services and either driven up demand or disengaged communities from attempting to use services to get the help they need.
More people than ever are living in poverty or under volatile circumstances. This is a tough starting point from which to cope with the shock of a pandemic.
We responded to COVID-19 in the way we did because the NHS doesn’t have the capacity to deal with more than 50,000 in crisis at one time for a population of 60 million.
What we heard...
“Prior to the pandemic people have been neglected and have become impersonal numbers within a society hell-bent on reducing costs by cutting back on the many special places and opportunities available to individual people. Austerity and neoliberal policies have reduced council budgets, turning what were once assets into millstones. Wonderful old libraries, art galleries, historical buildings and beautiful environmental spaces have been neglected and left to decay. The needs of individual people, connected to these places for generations, have been ignored. The arts and humanities have been ignored in favour of commerce and a race to generate wealth for a few people at the expense of most people.”
Pauline Wood, artist educator, Greater Manchester
“The interaction between public services and community has been a slow incremental scratch away over the past 10 years. There are two things about the public services that have changed. The first is the withdrawal from physical buildings such as the children’s centre.... The second thing is in the cuts in public services, people who are operational have decreasing amounts of flexibility and influence over what they do in their role.”
Stephen Sloss, CEO of Salvere
Food for thought
“Local authorities, especially in England, which perform vital roles in providing a real social safety net have been gutted by a series of government policies. Libraries have closed in record numbers, community and youth centers have been shrunk and underfunded, public spaces and buildings including parks and recreation centers have been sold off.”