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Post-Covid age will demand strategy based on resilience, claims UK2070 Commission

UK2070 Papers Series

Our current age of uncertainty demands the development of strategy based on resilience if it is to deal with inevitable future shocks, according to the UK2020 Commission.

In Six Propositions: The New Norms, Values and Politics after COVID-19, the UK2070 Commission’s authors call for the principle of ‘evidence-based policy’ to be rewritten around revisited core values, the choice being between “fiscal goals or social well-being”.

“When the final outcomes are so uncertain it is even more important that the decision-making processes are transparent, inclusive and maximise diversity of approaches – encouraging initiative and experimentation and tolerating failure.”

‘Six Propositions’ is one of nine newly released papers in a series published by the commission. The pandemic’s lasting effects are also covered in a paper entitled COVID-19 and Economic Resilience, one of nine such papers published.

Accepting that Covid-19 has “turned the world upside down”, the authors talk of the pandemic shaping “a new set of parameters”, in particular new business behaviours with more localised or diversified supply chains, new trajectories and vulnerabilities for different sectors of the economy and sections of communities, and changed perspectives on home working and travel, with the social implications of this (e.g. gender and ethnicity). Covid-19 has also greatly expanded the “politically acceptable”, the authors continue. “Radical policy-making need no longer be inhibited by inertia”.

There is a new wide window of politically acceptable options, the Overton Window, which should be opened up to allow new policy agendas, says the commission.

“Unless we seize this opportunity for the ‘recovery’ of the UK, its pre-existing underlying problems will be exacerbated, including the deep-rooted and unacceptable inequalities in society which the UK2070 Commission seeks to address.”

A more “prudential economy”, doing​ “more with less” will be required “to combine the recreation of business confidence and develop social value while minimising the use of diminishing resources such as energy, capital and time”.

“Past arguments against such change have rested upon disruption to the economy… These are no longer valid – the economy has been disrupted. The next global shock will enforce frugality. ​We will be more resilient to it if we start now to ‘do more with less’, especially in view of the debt burdens. There is a unique opportunity to innovate, empower and create better value.”

The papers, a collection of think pieces and essays, have been produced in response to the commission's call for further evidence in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. They suggest that the commission’s 10-Point Action Plan, set out in its report in February, “is now required even more urgently”.

The UK2070 Commission, chaired by Lord Kerslake, was set up as “an independent inquiry into the deep-rooted spatial inequalities that exist across the UK”. It published its final report in February. This report, and the body of evidence in support of it, can be found here.

Image credit | UK2070 Commission