Laura Sharman 13 November 2020

Peers call for public service reform to improve resilience

Peers have warned that ‘fundamental weaknesses’ in public services must be addressed in order to withstand future crises.

A new report looking at how public services responded to the pandemic - published by the House of Lords Public Services Committee - found lockdown hit children, disabled and BAME people the hardest.

The report found only one in ten vulnerable children attended school during lockdown, with hundreds of thousands falling through gaps between social and education services.

Death rates were highest in the most deprived communities where avoidable health conditions made people more vulnerable, it found.

Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top, chair of the Public Services Committee, said: ‘Government, local authorities and other public service providers are not working together effectively to protect vulnerable children.

’Before COVID-19 many vulnerable children couldn’t get the public services they needed. With most unable to attend school because of the lockdown they had little support and many more have become invisible after losing contact with public services during the pandemic.’

It calls for the Troubled Families Programme and community services to be extended, a race equality strategy to be introduced and ensure innovations in public service delivery are not lost.

Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: 'This wide-ranging, comprehensive report provides some good recommendations for how we can build upon the relationships between central and local government, to ensure our local public services are better prepared and our areas more resilient to any future health crisis.

'As the committee makes clear, the coronavirus response has proved that certain key public service functions are best delivered locally, alongside the funding and flexibilities to do so.'

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