Fighting your corner

The LGA is your voice on the national stage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the country, local government continues to show the nation that councils are there for our communities in our times of greatest need.

As leaders of place, councillors have protected the vulnerable, supported our businesses and kept our highly valued services running – all while doing our utmost to minimise the spread of infection.

It hasn’t been easy for any of us – professionally or personally – as the pandemic has dramatically reshaped local areas and changed the way we live, work and socialise. Councils are doing a remarkable job, and I am proud to work alongside you.

The supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), safely accommodating those experiencing homelessness, ensuring vulnerable children receive the care and support they need, and supporting the wider group of vulnerable people with food parcels and other assistance are just a few of the issues that I know you have been dealing with.

The LGA, as your national membership body, is continuing to amplify your voice on the national stage and ensure you have the support you need at this time. Our councillors and officers continue to push for the powers, flexibilities and funding you need at the highest levels of government. Positively, our concerns are being heard.

Before this crisis, the financial pressures facing councils were already a significant issue. Having delivered an extraordinary and unprecedented range of support for our communities in such a short space of time, the issue of immediate funding has been at the top of councils’ worry lists. The Government is listening and has provided councils with billions of pounds in funding to help you cope with this crisis.

Ensuring our workforce is kept safe and well is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, particularly those who are supporting our residents and keeping communities running. The LGA has continually and consistently lobbied for a sustainable supply of appropriate PPE for everyone who needs it.

“The pandemic has dramatically reshaped local areas

All essential frontline staff, and members of their households, can now access COVID-19 tests. This will give our staff more peace of mind about their own safety, that of their families and of the residents they serve. 

The pace and scale of the challenge we face is unprecedented. With councils redeploying staff and refocusing their efforts to tackle these new challenges, the LGA has been supporting councils as you look to do things differently.

The Government and other organisations recognise councils’ efforts and have implemented changes to reduce the red tape you face. This has included the ability to conduct meetings remotely, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman suspending casework activity, the deadline for publishing draft accounts for inspection and publishing audited accounts being extended, clarification around data sharing, and a new time-limited, emergency permitted development right to support local authorities’ immediate response to COVID-19.

As we look towards the recovery period, we know that life will have changed, and things will be different from how they are now. Remote working and the huge upsurge in voluntary working and community support is something I would personally like to keep.

Having demonstrated the importance and success of councils in delivering for our local communities, together we need to ensure local government is at the forefront of future developments in the months and years ahead.

I hope our staff will continue to be valued as equal to those in any other public service, that our contribution to supporting the wider group of vulnerable people we serve will be recognised, and that we will be funded sustainably now and into the future.

In the coming months, the LGA will continue to represent the priorities of councils in our discussions with ministers and officials. To help keep you up to date with all the latest developments, we have set up a coronavirus hub (www.local.gov.uk/coronavirus) with links to resources, guidance, public health advice and other useful material. You can also follow us on Twitter at @LGAcomms and @LGAnews for regular updates.

Do please let us know what else we can do to help, or raise your questions and concerns with us directly, by emailing coronavirus.enquiries@local.gov.uk. Your insights help inform our engagement on your behalf.

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