The Inquiry has now published its summary and analysis of the responses to the consultation on the Terms of Reference. The analysis addresses whether the draft Terms of Reference are sufficiently broad in scope, the order in which issues should be addressed, whether there should be a planned end date for the public hearings, and how the Inquiry should ensure an appropriate level of public engagement with bereaved individuals or those who have suffered serious harm or hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Most importantly, the Inquiry's summary and analysis of the public consultation recommended a number of changes to the Terms of Reference, which Baroness Hallett has recommended to the Prime Minister should be adopted. If those recommendations are accepted, the expanded Terms of Reference will include:

  • the impact of the pandemic on children and young people, including health, wellbeing and social care, education and early years provision, and antenatal and postnatal care;
  • the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of the UK population; and
  • the impact of the pandemic on collaboration between central government, devolved administrations, regional and local authorities, and the voluntary and community sector.

The proposed changes to the Terms of Reference will be particularly relevant to authorities who have engaged with the UK Government throughout the pandemic, and those in local government and devolved authorities may find that their decision-making and service delivery in a broad range of areas are brought within the focus of the Inquiry. The Inquiry's analysis of its consultation indicates a theme among responses that some policy during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted from a collaborative approach, but there were also circumstances in which local authorities were concerned that their ability to implement policies was restricted.

Once the Terms of Reference have been finalised, the Inquiry will be formally established and can begin gathering evidence. Public hearings are expected to begin in 2023.

The Chair has also announced that the Inquiry plans to launch a "Listening Project" in autumn 2022 to hear about how the pandemic has affected people in a setting which is less formal than a public hearing.

For further information please contact Christine O'Neill, Kirstyn Burke or your usual Brodies' contact.


Christine O'Neill KC

Chair & Partner

Kirstyn Burke

Senior Associate