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How the UK can respond to the COVID-19 crisis

Responding to COVID-19

The Coronavirus pandemic has and still is impacting society in the UK in countless ways beyond the obvious healthcare crisis.

The economic, social and psychological impact of the virus is yet to be fully counted, but even the government’s extensive measures to cocoon the economy can not be enough to completely shield it from the ravages of the virus.

Though the UK is one of the world’s leading economies, it is well recognised that many communities and regions within the UK were already struggling to thrive as economies prior to the virus reaching our shores.

Inspiration from around the world

CPI UK looked around the world for prominent examples of regions and communities responding to significant economic downturns to offer inspiration and hope as to how places in the UK could respond to COVID-19. Our search has resulted in seven case studies, demonstrating a wide variety of approaches:

  • Germany’s Kurzarbeit, the German federal work-sharing scheme (2009)

  • Newcastle’s Economic Downturn Response Plan (2009)

  • Sweden’s implementation of regional coordinators (2008)

  • Korea’s Regional Innovation Plan in Busan (2004)

  • Sweden’s National Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness (2015-2020)

  • The UK’s Northern Highland Initiative (2005)

  • The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (2001)

Read the case studies

Fight, recover & rebuild

We have categorised these seven case studies into the three phases of crisis response often used in government: fight, recover and rebuild.

The case studies we have identified try to highlight what governments around the world have done in different stages of crises and the practices they have used to help places cope with crises and overcome them. All of them were assessed for their relevance and ability to be applied to parts of the UK and they offer, albeit with some adjustments to processes and mindsets, hope and a possible pathway forward.

The selected case studies and stories alone cannot, of course, provide the answer to how the UK could enable local economies to respond to a downturn created by this crisis, but they do provide valuable insights, lessons and inspiration.

What we can learn

The potential of place

Understand the potential of a place through local eyes and help people build on it

icon: three people

Mobilise people

Ignite local missions that mobilise people and actors across multiple sectors


Empower existing, trusted local leadership and structures

Inclusive growth

Ensure initiatives are aimed at building inclusive growth for all

Offer support

Establish a joined up and clear offer of support from central government to local government

Peer to peer collaboration

Create space and opportunities for peer to peer collaboration and regional and international knowledge-sharing

Long-term resilience

Look beyond ‘quick fixes’ and aim to build long-term resilience beyond the crises

Examples of communities responding to economic downturns

Read the report to learn about international precedents to level up and lessen the impacts of COVID-19, and get in touch for our support.

Download report

Join the conversation

Have a public impact story to share? Get in touch to let us know. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.