Barcelona has been hard-hit by the pandemic, in terms of both health and the economy. But this impact hasn’t been evenly distributed across the city: the poorest residents of Barcelona have been hardest hit by the coronavirus. The city’s response to the COVID-19 has focused on ameliorating these class, gender and racial inequalities, with the city doubling spending on social services since March and announcing a €90 million emergency fund to deal with the social and economic impact of the pandemic. Of course, all of this socially oriented municipal action comes at a cost. Barcelona is facing a €300 million budget deficit, due to falling tax revenues and increased social spending in the wake of the pandemic.
For too long, local governments in Spain have been patronised and undermined by arrogant central governments of all colours. Yet, historically, municipalities have been at the vanguard of driving social, economic and cultural progress in the country. If the corrent coalition government between the Socialist Party and Podemos is to survive and thrive, it must recognise municipalities as an indispensable ally in the construction of a post-COVID Spain, and finance them accordingly.
Photo: Annie Spratt