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Essex Renewal Project Launches Independent Commission

A new, independent commission has now officially started work to identify the long-term effects of Covid-19 across Essex. The commission, which recently held its first meeting, is part of the Essex Renewal Project (ERP) and is supported by Essex County Council and the University of Essex.

Chaired by Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex and made up of a group of independent experts, the commission will make recommendations about how to improve outcomes for communities and where Essex can take advantage of future opportunities. This work will cover the areas of life in Essex where the pandemic could have long-lasting effects, including the economy, education, the experiences of young people, the health of our communities and levels of inequality. It will also consider the impacts and experiences of different groups and places.

Cllr Kevin Bentley said: “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 our 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, 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 work of the commission is aligned with our four-year plan, ‘Everyone’s Essex’, that we recently published and which sets out our ambitions and commitments to the people of Essex.  It will also build on and complement existing work happening across various agencies in Essex to manage the impacts of the pandemic. An initial report from the commission will be produced in early 2022, outlining the likely long-term impacts of the pandemic and identifying any specific challenges.  A final report will be published in summer 2022 with recommendations on how local agencies and communities could manage risks and take advantage of new opportunities.