All UK adults over 50 to receive Covid-19 vaccine ‘by May’ - meaning 2021 local elections are due to take place
The government has confirmed that it expects all adults aged over 50 to have received a Covid-19 vaccine by May - meaning local elections are due to go ahead.
If the deadline is achieved, it will mean 27 million people in England and 32 million across the UK, in nine priority groups, will have received a jab.
The government had previously only pledged to vaccinate these groups by “spring”, but on Friday (February 2), the Cabinet Office confirmed the May date, which it said gave the government confidence to proceed with local elections that month.
The country is on track to have vaccinated the first four cohorts by February 15 – including NHS and care home staff, care home residents, and all those aged 70 and over. So far, more than 10.4 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Categories five to nine include all those aged 50 and over, as well as adults aged 16-65 in an at-risk group.
Prioritisation for the rest of the population has yet to be determined, but vaccination of under-50s is expected to continue into the autumn.
The government will provide some funding to councils to help them hold Covid-secure elections, it said, but details have yet to be confirmed.
Elections for the mayor of the Combined Authority of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are due on May 6, as well as the vote for the county’s police and crime commissioner.
There will be elections for 61 councillors to all 59 electoral divisions of Cambridgeshire County Council.
And in Cambridge, all 42 seats on the city council, across all 14 wards, will be up for election. The vote, cancelled from May 2020, is a result of changes to ward boundaries, meaning all seats must be re-elected. Each ward has three councillors, so residents will be able to vote for up to three candidates.
In South Cambridgeshire there will be:
- Harston and Comberton ward and Melbourn ward by-elections
- Northstowe Town Council, Longstanton Parish Council and Willingham Parish Council elections
- Waterbeach Parish Council by-election
- Cottenham neighbourhood plan referendum
South Cambridgeshire District Council will hold its next election in May 2022, while East Cambridgeshire District Council is not due at the polls until May 2023.
Following the confirmation that local elections are planned, Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Local elections play a crucial role in our nation’s democracy. This year’s will see everyone in England having a ballot of some kind, with many places having multiple ballots taking place at once – this is unprecedented. Councils have been working hard to put preparations in place to deliver these with their usual efficiency.
“It is good that the government has set out this action plan to help guide local planning for these elections. We are pleased the government will provide some extra funding to councils to ensure Covid-19 secure measures can be implemented for voters, council election teams and the army of volunteers in polling stations and count venues.
“The scale and cost of these vital extra measures to ensure everyone’s safe involvement in the elections and the counting of votes are now being assessed by councils. The level of extra government financial support will need to be kept under review as the real-world costs and implications are calculated.
“Councillors make a huge difference to the quality of life of local people and how local issues are dealt with. It is vital that candidates have the ability to run campaigns so residents can make informed decisions about who they want to represent them. We look forward to seeing further details from government on this.
“We also want to explore with the government how all candidates can best set out their case for election to voters as national restrictions are lifted.”
One in five adults in the UK have now had their first Covid-19 jab.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said on January 11 that groups five to nine would get the jab by the end of April.
He told MPs: “This is a sprint to mid-February, and then it will be a sprint from mid-February through to the end of April to extend the vaccination to the rest of the higher risk groups.”
Sir Simon added there would then be a “marathon” to inoculate the under-50s “into the autumn”.