If only the Government had delegated the management of coronavirus controls to Local Councils there would have been a much better outcome to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local Councils should have been required to set up Community Support Groups (comprising social workers, GPs and volunteers) to provide medical and palliative care at home to relieve the NHS, to track and trace virus contacts and to support the vulnerable in need of help. Community Support Groups would have been invaluable: home visits by GPs, properly supplied with PPE, could have determined the needs of prospective patients by testing, deciding on who should be allocated to hospital beds, supplying oxygen to those being treated at home, using trained volunteers to track contacts with victims and providing home palliative care to the dying. The Government must now face up to finding tens of billions in tax rises and spending cuts but should recognise the huge benefit of using this opportunity to enable Local Councils to become self-financing and responsible for spending decisions at the ‘coal face’ i.e. locally. The Daily Telegraph’s New Year’s Day editorial quite rightly demands that 2021 must be the year of radical reconstruction. This will require radical tax reform not only to deal with the Treasury’s massive indebtedness but also to act as a catalyst for the persuasion of all sections of the population that economic recovery for themselves and the union is achievable post-pandemic and post-Brexit despite all the doom-mongers. Nothing would be more encouraging than to find that self-financing Local Councils are in a position to support local needs and initiatives.
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