The LGA has been busy lobbying the Government on your behalf during the COVID-19 crisis – and will continue to do so.
Throughout this pandemic, local government has worked – and continues to work – tirelessly to protect lives, livelihoods and the most vulnerable in our communities.
In Parliament, a number of select committees continue their work analysing the impact of the outbreak on various public services, and the LGA has been raising with MPs the support that councils are providing to their communities and the challenges they continue to face.
Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, recently appeared virtually before the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee to give evidence to that effect.
During the session, the Chair of the Committee, LGA Vice-President Clive Betts MP, paid tribute to councils.
He said: “On behalf of all the Committee, I would like to thank everyone in local government… particularly those frontline workers in social care, helping with the volunteers, the environment and public health officials, and people who are doing our refuse collections on a daily basis.”
Cllr Jamieson championed the huge difference councils are making – from the work of local resilience forums in delivering vital personal protective equipment, to the incredible efforts to accommodate homeless people and the delivery of financial support schemes to individuals and businesses across our communities.
The session was also another important opportunity to highlight local government’s financial position, and to make the case that government must meet the extra costs and the loss of income many councils are facing.
Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, gave evidence to the Committee on the work of his ministry, and similarly praised the work of councils in dealing with the crisis on the ground.
He stressed that the Government would ensure councils are fully compensated for the COVID-19 duties they are asked to undertake, but said that the financial returns received so far from councils suggested that sufficient funding had been provided to address the costs they had incurred.
It is clear that the overall funding shortfall is up to four times higher than the additional £3.2 billion in funding announced so far, and we will continue to make that case to government on your behalf.
Elsewhere, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA Resources Board, gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on the issue of funding. The Committee is conducting an inquiry into local authority commercial investments and this follows a National Audit Office report that found local authorities had invested more than £6 billion in commercial property over the past three years.
Cllr Watts said that councils invest commercially for a variety of reasons, including to shape local places through regeneration. He cautioned against making it more difficult for councils to borrow, which could significantly impact their ability to deliver regeneration for our local communities.
We continue to lobby the Government and Parliament on your behalf, and have given evidence to more than a dozen select committees and all-party parliamentary groups during this pandemic, on subjects including the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness, education and children’s services, and domestic abuse.