Government Business 27.05

Government Business 27.05

Are local powers key to fighting coronavirus?

A few days ago, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester urged the government to hand more powers to local authorities to help retain public support and tackle rising numbers of coronavirus cases across the country.

Burnham is not shy about calling out ministers for their shortcomings. In recent months he has campaigned for payments for people self-isolating, a simplification of lockdown rules, better access to testing and for the government to reconvene Cobra as a matter of urgency with places for all of the English regions.

All of his suggestions seem both logical and entirely feasible. But what is attainable is not always what is deemed possible by a government who seem to have lost all sense of logic. Manchester may be an obvious example and Burnham a vocal critic, but you can look at cities from across the UK and see the same problems and local leaders seeking the same assistance and clarification.

With the furlough scheme set to close and Test and Trace seeming to be deteriorate in success by the week, surely the need to look local is well and truly upon us. Local areas in tiers 2 and 3 must be able to request local control of the Test and Trace system, with resources transferring from the national system. If not, winter will be unmanageable.

Michael Lyons, editor