This is a time of unprecedented crisis; but it is vital that the we continue to hold the government to account and ensure that our collective response is as strong and well-resourced as it can be. The Labour party and trade unions have been arguing for weeks now for proper PPE and testing for frontline workers, and for years for proper funding for council services – especially social care. Whilst the government makes the right noises, the response in practice is too often slow and inadequate.
Lambeth are already a Living Wage council and throughout this crisis we have continued to fight for an increase in pay for those whom, as this crisis has shown, put their lives at risk to protect ours and those of our loved ones. We have joined trade unions in fighting for the correct protection equipment for social care, NHS workers and bus drivers alike – to make sure that all of our front line workers can carry out their essential duties safely.
We do not know what future after this crisis holds, but our message could not be clearer – things cannot go back to how they were before. After ten years of crippling austerity at the hands of the Tories, it is absolutely clear that communities and local government cannot pay the price of this crisis as well – in Lambeth alone we estimate the bill could come to £45 million. We have written to the Prime Minister to call on him to honour his pledge to foot the bill for the cost of responding to the coronavirus crisis.
During this crisis, the importance of public services, our sense of community, the strength of our civic institutions and our ability to work together has never been more obvious or more necessary and together, we must fight to ensure that continues long after this crisis is over.