Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 17 April 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

17 April 2020


Dear friends and colleagues, 

Councils Can

With at least three more weeks of lockdown announced yesterday, Councils are continuing their meetings online, with good widespread success. Our councils are amazing, keeping our societies going with care services, collecting waste and online schooling, to name but a few.

Our council leaders have been contributing their good practice and concerns. The hub on the LGA website is a useful resource, regularly updated. Do share any initiatives you’ve developed or inclusive ways of remote working.

Supporting our councils on key issues

With the LGA, we are at the highest levels of government, raising the big concerns of our councils, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for care workers, support for the vulnerable and funding, including short-term cash flow, recompense for COVID-19 payments and long-term security.

This week LGA Group Leaders met to assess the LGA direction and priorities, and also with the wider special interest groups such as the District Councils' Network (DCN), County Councils Network (CCN) and core cities. We met with DEFRA; Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick; Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke; Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Jo Churchill; and raised key challenges facing our councils and how we start to think about recovery.

The ask this week was clear: we need to lobby our MPs to influence the Treasury over funding. The Government has written off the NHS debt so will they do the same for us?

We need to have parity with the NHS, both in financial support to cover costs, and PPE for staff. We are working solidly to keep people safe in our communities in their time of need. We need councils to still be here when we are wanted to get the recovery going. We are setting up a task group to look at how best to support recovery in economic, social and environmental terms. 

We are at the forefront, closest to residents, providing care, food, basic support, removing rubbish and all of the 600+ jobs we normally do to keep our communities afloat. They said “Whatever it takes”, “Do what you have to do” and “We will reimburse you”. Now we need to make sure that happens. Your support with your MPs is just what is needed.

Look up your local MP.

I encourage you to write to your local MP to outline the many things you as councillors are doing and the importance of the Treasury fully funding council responses to this pandemic. Councils have submitted their direct costs and loss of income. After the £1.6 billion already spent, councils are still tens of millions of pounds down due to increased costs and from losses in income with closed leisure and car parks, for example.

Other news this week arising from working with ministers on your behalf

Opening the tips: We are looking at what would be needed to make it safe to open our Household Waste and Recycling Centres.

Testing for care staff: Your director of adult social care can send social care staff for testing at the new big centres, as they currently have spare capacity and today Matt Hancock MP has extended testing criteria further to police, fire officers and other critical local authority staff.

New care plan: The Government’s care plan for dealing with coronavirus and the ongoing issues around a lack of PPE is finally out. It confirms patients going from hospital to a care setting will be tested for coronavirus first.

Business grants: The business grant nationally are about 30 per cent already distributed, with a very fast turnaround for eligible businesses. Progress will be made public.

Fire staff: A formal agreement now allows fire service personnel to assist with antigen testing and patient transfer.

Staff pay: I supported our national employers who met this week and made a final offer to the unions of a 2.75 per cent pay increase and one day extra leave. The deal will affect more than 1 million employees but not the most senior officers, teachers or firefighters who are covered by other arrangements. The Unions will now decide whether to accept this or not.

Further support for our community hubs: Has anyone used the GoodSAM app to offer or find volunteers?

Giving World is a national charity supplying free personal essentials to medically shielded and other vulnerable people and front line staff. Contact Rama Bhalla at

Thank you very much for all you do. I hope you find this helpful, and please lobby your MP at this critical time.

Let me know if I can help with anything.

Kind regards,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association