RESPONDING effectively to Covid-19 for many organisations has been akin to carrying a Ming vase across sheets of ice with a pile of government guidance documents on your head.

It’s been a time for pragmatism, partnership and persistence to ensure the town is protected and ready to bounce back. It’s now a period for reflection and learning as Covid will be with us for some time yet as we’ve seen this week regarding quarantine and foreign travel.

I just about understand that Boris as the Prime Minister doesn’t have to say “sorry” about the government approach to handling the pandemic. It was pleasing that he conceded that the government didn’t understand the virus at the start and could have done things differently.

The delays to decision making and quick mobilisation are just two areas that could have been improved. There was a disconnect between national guidance/decisions and its communication to local levels. Another is the inability to recognise the equality of the NHS all with the adult social care and in particular, care homes in terms of status and resources. How we fund and who pays for social care for an increasing number of elderly people is one of the key policy questions for the future.

This is now time for looking forwards, not back. The lockdown is being eased, rates of infection and thankfully deaths in our town are falling. We are monitoring this daily. The “masking up” of the nation shows that we are a long way from normality.

In the autumn, there will be the government’s Public Spending Review for the next three years. Rishi Sunak has been like Santa every day by providing support to the economy, doling out money hand over fist.

In our town, £37 million of business support has been provided. The government now finds itself in a budget deficit position of up to £340 billion.

The government balance sheet is in a mess. To be fair, no Chancellor in 20 years has managed to run a surplus budget. Although there is a commitment to a continued growth of nearly three per cent each year on public spending the big question is can the taps of public funding continue to run?

One thing is certain that a return to austerity will not work if economic and social recovery are to be achieved.

Perhaps the Chancellor will look at some of the inefficiencies of resources going to the NHS which now accounts for 40 per cent of all public spending up from 28 per cent five years ago? Free at the point of need is the foundation stone of the NHS but many studies have shown wasteful and some excessive costs.

Perhaps some of the resource could be re-directed to support Care Homes and enhanced Social Care? Should the NHS take over providing Adult Social Care or should councils be better funded to continue the provision?

Overall our town has done well managing the response to the pandemic. What is needed now is certainty in public funding for the recovery phase to be equally successful for our citizens and businesses.