There is a growing difference between those who want to reconsider their post-Covid lives and those who want to return to some kind of normalcy before the virus. Think tanks and researchers have started to wonder how many individuals are going to change their work and social lives, and what that would mean for employers, the streets, the community, and even the willingness of people to find a partner, fall in love, and have kids.
A survey will tell us how a sample would like to work – some will see the best result as a return to the workplace or factory, while others claim they prefer to work more frequently from home. What is apparent, however, is that some will change the way they live, travel, shop and go to the movies, and quite a few would make radical changes. That’s why ministers should pause in the months before the Covid-19 crisis before they start throwing money at any issue they thought they wanted to fix. Some government programs would have to be put through the planning grinder all over again. It will be a costly misadventure to continue the same ill-conceived “raising standards” or education schemes (“rethink, reskill, reboot”). Housing should be at the top of the list of issues to be checked.
There is an assumption within the Ministry of Finance that only volume matters.
It dominates all other concerns and leads Secretary Robert Jenrick of Housing, Neighborhoods and Local Government to side with developers at any level. Jenrick doesn’t care much about the scale of the apartments or whether the many small one- and two-bedroom apartments with open kitchens, dining rooms and living areas are appropriate for the 21st century. It only takes a graph showing a decrease in the annual rise in commuting from the surrounding countryside to a city – any city – for all the gains to evaporate from a major housing development. There is concern that ministers are authorizing facilities that few can use, or that will lead us in the direction of more car trips. There are still initiatives championed by Jenrick around the Southeast that need additional public transit links to be viable. When many people say that they would refuse to move by public transport until the vaccination has done its job, and maybe not even then, how will these things work? Hopefully, a Labor government would begin to see cities as places where citizens want to reside and function and seek to eliminate commuting, which impedes new urban ideas. The party should challenge the obsolete perception that the only routes to development are big cities, and say that a reassessment of what an economy needs to thrive – GDP growth is not always the measure – is a priority. The long-term patterns of decline in our cities have been illustrated in studies, most recently by the Centre for Towns think tank.
The latter research provided Labour with the evidence it requires to ease fears that northern city residents, many of whom voted for Brexit, are closed to the notion that their climate should be changed. Review of responses to the UK Election Study between February 2014 and December 2019 suggests that the proportion of people who claim action to protect the envy over the past five years indicates that over the past five years, Over this time, the distance between cities has nearly halved, which the think tank says suggests that “the environment is a growing concern everywhere, but particularly in cities and more rural areas.”
Nearly six out of 10 respondents agree that individuals will “shop closer to home,” and many expect the widespread adoption of hybrid work patterns, where offices are “recalibrated for collaboration and contact with colleagues.” This should cause all government agencies to pause and reflect on all their initiatives – their one-off ventures and their plans to invest big money to bridge the growing divide between them.
Before all of this,