Columnist John Harris has spent the past decade touring the country and reporting on what devastating budget cuts have meant to communities. Looking back, he sees some signs of hope amid the devastation. But will the government change its approach for the impending Covid-19 economic crash?

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When George Osborne delivered his spending review in June 2010 it ushered in what would become a decade of austerity measures. As budgets were slashed for children’s centres, libraries, parks and welfare, they were accompanied with the phrase “we are all in this together”.

The Guardian columnist John Harris has been touring the country for the entire decade, chronicling the devastation that those cuts have made in local communities for his award-winning series Anywhere But Westminster. He tells Rachel Humphreys how his latest reporting on the Barnsley village of Thurnscoe is illustrative of what austerity does to a place. He finds children’s centres cut, the landscape blighted with litter and unmown verges, parks in disrepair and libraries curtailed.

Now, with the coronavirus pandemic set to usher in a new economic crisis, will the present Conservative government take a different approach this time around?

Charlotte Williams, the chief executive of Station House Community Association, which provides playgroup, after school and holiday club services in Thurnscoe, South Yorkshire.  (Pic credit: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian)

Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian
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