COVID-19: A difficult year for all of Sweden’s municipalities

 It has been a difficult year for all of Sweden’s municipalities. Our knowledge of the pandemic’s social impact is constantly updated, but already now we can safely say that all municipalities will play a crucial role in Sweden’s recovery after the crisis, says Sebastian Christner, one of the report’s authors and social analyst at Sweco.

Pandemic hits hard on local government business
In 2020, 123,471 people were notified of redundancies. The biggest redundancies were in the hospitality industry municipalities and municipalities where many work in industry. At the Swedish Public Employment Service, it is seen that new enrollments of the unemployed increase most in the large municipalities’ surrounding municipalities, larger cities and border municipalities, where many work in the service industries.

The hospitality industry is one of the sectors hardest hit. The reduction in guest nights during the summer of 2020 was particularly noticeable in the big cities, border municipalities and well-known places to visit. The home trend did not compensate for the large decrease in foreign guest nights.

The decline in the hospitality industry is a major challenge for many municipalities. Tourism promotes employment and helps maintain commercial services year-round, and can also promote immigration and population growth. The pandemic clarifies the importance of strategic planning for the hospitality industry at both municipal and regional level in order to better handle rapid increases, declines and decreases in the number of visitors in the future, says Sebastian Christner.

Overcrowding is increasing in 271 of 290 municipalities
Covid-19 has brought up the debate about how we live. Densification of cities has been a key word for community planning in recent decades, with benefits such as resource efficiency and better mobility, entertainment and service. But density can also lead to increased overcrowding, which in turn can have negative effects on children’s health, school results and social contacts. During the pandemic, it has also been noted as a risk factor for increased spread of infection.

According to the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning’s new definition of overcrowded housing, almost every tenth household in Sweden lives in a overcrowded home. It is mainly in the metropolitan regions that people live in cramped conditions, but overcrowding increased in 271 of the country’s 290 municipalities between 2012 and 2018.

– To reduce overcrowding, an increased supply of housing and greater mobility in the housing market is required. To reduce the consequences of overcrowding, it is important to ensure access to safe environments with service and meeting places as well as good recreational and leisure opportunities, says Sebastian Christner.

Deficiencies in care for the elderly have come into focus
For our elderly, the pandemic has meant a great deal of suffering and major restrictions. Elderly care is hard hit and the ban on visiting elderly homes breaks with a development that since the 1950s has made elderly care more individualized, open and physically integrated into society.

The report states that the costs of elderly care vary greatly between municipalities. So does the proportion who work full-time in elderly care, and it has been discussed whether nursing homes with a high proportion of hourly substitutes have had a greater spread of infection. Municipalities with structural weaknesses dominate among those with a low proportion of full-time workers, which is a sign of concern about the goal of high-quality care for the elderly for all, regardless of residence

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