Blog: Impact of Covid-19 on the local economy

Tackling Covid-19 continues to have serious implications for business and individuals in Suffolk. The damage to our economy is potentially very worrying and engineering the recovery must be a top priority for everyone.

As Police and Crime Commissioner I know there is a strong link between economic and social deprivation and raised levels of crime, violence and abuse; that’s why I am determined to do whatever I can to help the recovery and reduce demand on policing in the long term.

Since the lockdown started the Constabulary has done an excellent job in reinforcing the government’s “Stay at home message”, and to work remotely if at all possible. The vast majority of Suffolk people have used their common sense and that combined with officers policing by consent, has staved off what might have been a total disaster. I am very grateful for what the Constabulary has achieved and for the response of the public, but we all know there is absolutely no room for complacency. Covid-19 is a particularly nasty virus, which has sadly had tragic consequences for many.

We appear to be turning the corner with the spread of the virus so thoughts naturally turn to the future. Business and individuals alike are longing for some sense of normality. The recent re-opening of our high street shops provides justifiable optimism. However, I believe it will be a long-haul and an enduring challenge for all as we need to remain cautious.

The government is doing what it can to help business and whilst the system is not perfect, I believe they are listening to the business community and adjusting the support systems whenever possible. The sums spent already are eye-watering but I don’t believe there was any alternative.

It has been a strange time for many organisations including our PCC team. The use of technology enables work to continue (almost as normal) especially in the vital area of finance and I am pleased to say the force is in a good place financially. It has been a revelation to see what can be achieved without the need for travel – our audit committee meetings and other significant elements of public engagement have all been possible. The Constabulary has done a great deal of community contact through a wide range of social media channels.

Social distancing will probably be required for sometime in the workplace and elsewhere. This will need investment in extra hygiene and cleaning measures to keep the workplace safe. At police headquarters many changes have had to be considered; implications for using lifts and other facilities we have always taken for granted – how will the canteen, meeting rooms and changing rooms be altered to keep everyone safe? It is certainly a major task. Our estates team has already completed the surveys on accommodation and work has started on screening and rearrangement of desk space and there has been a large investment in remote-working capability.

The long-term solutions, in my opinion, are the development of an effective vaccine and an increase in population immunity – this will happen, but in the meantime, we must follow the latest advice here in Suffolk and that is to ‘Stick with it’ and don’t get complacent.”

This super-human effort by business and everyone else will make a better Suffolk for all of us and it would be a travesty if all the sacrifices made by so many during lockdown are squandered so please do” Stick with it Suffolk!”

Published in the EADT’s Business Magazine June 2020