Comment: Small government has been a big failure in this pandemic

The performance of Britain and the US - where privatisation and outsourcing has become the norm - is in stark contrast to the success of nations like New Zealand and South Korea

25th May, 2020
Comment: Small government has been a big failure in this pandemic
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting Boris Johnson, her British counterpart, at a UN meeting last year. Ardern‘s handling of the Covid-19 crisis is partly due to her government’s “spirit of service” approach to maintaining public services. Picture: PA

Decades of privatisation, outsourcing and budget cuts in the name of “efficiency” have significantly hampered many governments’ responses to the Covid-19 crisis.

At the same time, successful responses by other governments have shown that investments in core public sector capabilities make all the difference in times of emergency.

The countries that have handled the crisis well are those where the state maintains a productive relationship with value creators in society, by investing...

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