A Beveridge-sized challenge for local government

By Michael Burton | 24 March 2021
  • Michael Burton

Few of us ever predicted, as the first lockdown was imposed one year ago and scientists maintained that 20,000 deaths from COVID-19 would be a ‘good outcome,’ that 12 months later we would still be in the third lockdown with 4.3m cases and 126,000 deaths across the UK. Many more of us now are cautious about predicting an end to this pandemic; more realistically we expect the virus will be with us for many more months, if not years, and that we will simply have to adapt to this, as we have done for the past year.

But that is not to say we cannot plan for a post-pandemic world. The groundbreaking report by William Beveridge on the creation of a post-war welfare state was published in 1942, three long years before the end of the Second World War. The pandemic has often been compared to a war. Planning for its aftermath need not wait until the number of cases is in single figures just as Beveridge did not wait for the guns to fall silent before planning the welfare state.

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