Britain was ‘grossly unprepared for Covid due to years of austerity’ | British News

A report by the union confederation has highlighted the problems (Image: Getty/PA)

A report by the union confederation has highlighted the problems (Image: Getty/PA)

Years of austerity measures have left the UK grossly unprepared for the pandemic, according to a new report.

The TUC said funding cuts reduced the ability to respond to the crisis, leaving health and social services “dangerously understaffed”.

The report said that a secure workforce in health and social services has been undermined by multi-year salary caps and pay freezes, making it difficult to hire staff and leading to increased staff turnover.

The capacity of the public service has been damaged by “severe cuts” in almost all parts of the public sector, it said.

In 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began, per capita spending on social welfare, transport, housing, childcare, schools, higher education, police, fire services and environmental protection was lower than in 2010, according to the TUC.

She claimed this limited the ability of public services to effectively contribute to civil emergencies and effectively continue essential activities such as child rearing.

The report added that during the pandemic, as workplace risks multiplied, workplace inspections and enforcement notices fell to an all-time low.

CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 5: Clinic staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while attending to a patient in the intensive care unit at Royal Papworth Hospital on May 5, 2020 in Cambridge, England. NHS workers in higher risk areas such as B. critical care, increased levels of PPE to minimize the spread of infection between staff and patients. Countries around the world are taking increased measures to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19. (Photo by Neil Hall - Pool/Getty Images)

Funding cuts left health and social services “dangerously understaffed” (Image: Getty)

A sign outside a shop asks customers to social distance on Oxford Street, central London, on June 7, 2021. - The delta variant of the coronavirus, first detected in India, is an estimated 40 per cent more transmissible than the alpha variant that caused the latest wave of infections in the UK, Britain's health secretary said on Sunday. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

“Austerity measures have cost the nation dearly during the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said (Image: AFP)

Funding for the health and safety agency in 2021/22 was 43% lower in real terms than in 2009/10 due to staff cuts, it said.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “To learn lessons and save future lives, we must take an unwavering look at the decisions our leaders made in the years leading up to the pandemic.”

“In the NHS and social services, funding cuts are putting staffing levels at risk.”

“Cuts to Social Security have pushed many more people below the poverty line and made them more vulnerable to infection, and cuts to health and safety have left workers exposed to fraudulent employers who cut corners and put their lives on the line.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 10: NHS workers in PPE retrieve a patient with an unknown medical condition from an ambulance at St Thomas' Hospital on April 10, 2020 in London, England. Across the country, public Easter events have been canceled and the government is urging the public to respect lockdown measures and celebrate the holiday in their homes. Over 1.5 million people around the world have been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus, with over 7,000 deaths recorded in the UK. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Millions died during the pandemic as Covid-19 spread around the world (Image: Getty)

“Austerity has cost the nation dearly.” We were totally unprepared for the pandemic and far too many workers were left unprotected. The consequences were painful and tragic.

“The investigation is our chance to learn lessons from this — and to understand why we need to rebuild our public services to be strong enough to protect us in a future crisis.”

The report comes ahead of a joint press conference with the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice on Monday about the lessons they say need to be learned from the UK’s Covid-19 inquiry

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Justin Scaccy

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