We're delighted to have contributed to The British Academy's timely evidence review to understand the long-term societal impacts of COVID-19. It makes sobering reading for any who thought the end of the pandemic would see things return to some sort of ‘normal’. As the authors make clear, Covid-19 did as much to accelerate existing inequalities as it did to create new societal challenges.
In its analysis of long-term societal impacts, the Academy rightly recognises the primary importance of community-led responses to the pandemic that drew on local knowledge and resources. It is particularly heartening to see references to the importance of ‘hyper-local communities’ and the need for national capacity building to sustain a strong web of community engagement. These were both points identified by the Institute for Community Studies in its submission to the Inquiry.
The report identifies seven policy goals to shape the COVID decade. While these recommendations need to be taken as a whole, it is reassuring to see the priority placed on effective community engagement in general, and on the role of community-led social infrastructure in particular. Whether it is reimagining urban spaces or reforming multi-level governance, it is essential that policymakers embrace genuine community participation. The government’s first test will be how it brings local voices into the work of its new Office for Place, giving local communities the power to approve planning design codes.
You can download the reports in full here. The Institute for Community Studies contributed to the evidence bank for the report, examining the social implications of Covid-19 on communities, which you can download here.