Health | Ageing // Critical services

Information paper - Never let a crisis go to waste: social policy opportunities from COVID-19

This CEDA paper by social policy experts from the Life Course Centre, led by Janeen Baxter, looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought opportunities to address problems in health, labour markets, the tax and transfer system, gender, education, housing and criminal justice.


Janeen Baxter, Deborah Cobb-Clark, Alexander Cornish, Tiffany Ho, Guyonne Kalb, Lorraine Mazerolle, Cameron Parsell, Hal Pawson, Lihini De Silva, Karen Thorpe and Steve Zubrick

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our worlds upside down. The measures put in place by government and health authorities to arrest the spread of COVID-19 have abruptly changed nearly all aspects of our lives, including how we work, socialise, interact with family and spend our spare time. Even previously straightforward and unproblematic activities such as shopping for groceries or a visit to a doctor have been disrupted.

Much has already been written about the current and likely future consequences of the pandemic. We see daily news reports on the numbers of deaths, infections, shutdowns, job losses, industry closures and wellbeing impacts. It will still be some time before we can fully assess these impacts, but what we can do at this early stage is reflect on the opportunities the pandemic presents.

COVID-19 provides unique opportunities for rethinking and redesigning long-standing rules and regulations covering how we live and work. In this paper we share a range of ideas relating to Health, Labour Markets, Tax and Transfer System, Gender Equality, Education, Housing, and Criminal Justice. Some of these may arise coincidentally and others will require purposeful policy and institutional redesign. Our aim is to provide an optimistic, forward-looking counterpoint to what has undoubtedly been a catastrophic global event.