Thu 15 Jul 21
A new independent commission, chaired by Professor Jules Pretty, will identify the long-term effects of COVID-19, alongside the opportunities available to Essex residents and businesses to build a better future.
The Commission was announced by Leader of Essex County Council Cllr Kevin Bentley and its believed the county council is the first in the country to set-up a commission to focus on this area.
The commission is part of the Essex Renewal Project (ERP) and is the result of collaborative efforts of the County Council and the University of Essex. It will bring together independent experts who will consider the impact of the pandemic in the longer-term and make recommendations on how to improve outcomes for communities and where to take advantage of future opportunities.
The work of the commission will cover the areas of life in Essex affected by the pandemic, including the economy, education and skills, relationships with friends, family and community, our environment and surroundings, and housing and transport. It will also consider the impacts and experiences of different groups, cohorts and places.
Cllr Kevin Bentley said: “As we and partners across the county work towards the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, we approach a unique moment in history and a period not only of renewal, but also opportunity for Essex.
“It is vital that we understand the long-term impact of Covid-19, not just the here and now. The new commission will make recommendations that will guide our work – and the work of wider partners – in tackling the most challenging aspects of the pandemic’s legacy in Essex, and in building a better future for the county.
“Not only do we have a responsibility to support communities to recover, we have a duty to enable them to benefit from new opportunities that have and will continue to emerge in the post-pandemic world.
“I look forward to continuing our work with colleagues from the University of Essex and other partners as the work of the commission progresses and we deliver on our ambitions for the county.”Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex Professor Anthony Forster said: “This is a moment when we need to ask difficult questions and think hard about the choices we need to make for the future of Essex.
“Our academics contributed to the local and national Covid-19 response through their research and I’m pleased the University is now supporting the post-pandemic recovery by encouraging evidence-led solutions.”
Professor Pretty will be Chair of the Commission. Further members will be announced shortly.
Professor Pretty, said: “Through the Commission we can provide community leaders in Essex with the powerful and impartial insights they need to help them take decisions on how we respond to the many challenges we are facing in the aftermath of Covid-19.
“My aim is for the Commission to deliver robust, high-quality analysis of the long-term impacts of Covid-19 and to identify the actions we need to take as a county. We can learn many lessons from our response to the pandemic to help us rebuild our society and our economy while also supporting people to improve their health and wellbeing.”
The commission will build on and complement existing work happening across various agencies in Essex to manage the impacts of the pandemic.
An initial report will be produced by the end of 2021, outlining the likely long-term impacts of the pandemic and identifying any specific challenges. A final report in will be published in summer 2022 with recommendations on how local agencies and communities could manage risks and exploit new opportunities.