There is significant evidence to show that the Coronavirus pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated disparity between social groups in the UK. Gaps in educational attainment, differential access to skilled and well-paid employment and consequent prosperity between social groups have widened further in 2020. Government has a clear aim of ‚’levelling up‚’ the life chances for people across the regions, but faces considerable cynicism about whether or how that will be achieved.
Public suspicion about the viability of this broad aim has been borne out of its experiences within the pandemic. The Government has been accused ‚’ with some justification – of dithering, poor communication, refusal to listen to ‚’experts‚’, double standards and over-promising while under-delivering. Differential infection and death rates among social groups, ethnic minority communities and regions has reduced confidence that the perceived ‚’London-esque‚’ Government works for all its people or understands localised needs of regions, particularly in the North. As the Scottish Government appears to be more decisive ‚’ and resents leaving the EU – momentum is also building for a vote on Scottish Independence.
Regional divisions have grown and there has been a clamour for delegation of decision-making at a regional level, where leaders understand their local context and can respond in a timely manner. My experience in local government has led to the view that the pandemic has merely shone a light on existing momentum towards radical political change. City Mayors are the current totems for this direction of travel. There is a tangible threat to Government that the genii will not be put back into the bottle after Covid but this could provide a springboard for radical political change, providing regions with real power along with weighty local responsibility. A system of federal government is not an original idea but could be a possible
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