Coronavirus latest: update from the LGA's Chief Executive

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From the LGA's Chief Executive

19 May 2020

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Dear Colleague,

You will have seen the continued coverage of the debate around the phased re-opening of schools and early years settings, potentially from 1 June if the infection data backs this up. Of course, the safety of children, their families and staff will always be our top priority. As the Chair of our Children and Young People Board, Cllr Judith Blake, has made clear in her media interviews it should be for schools, in consultation with councils, to make decisions about reopening. As there are different infection rates around the country, it should be up to each local area to decide and the Government needs to recognise that some areas may want to work faster than other areas. This is why we are pushing for crucial tracing data to be shared with councils, to allow us to understand where local outbreaks are happening and act quickly to contain them. The phased opening of schools is likely to remain a priority for councils and the Government over the next fortnight and we will continue to share developments as we know more.

The latest figures on community deaths from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) were published this morning showing that, sadly, there were 12,657 COVID-19 related care home deaths registered in the period up to 8 May. Every death is a tragedy, a lost family member or friend. The figures show an encouraging decline for the third week in a row, but it is still incredibly worrying that the percentage of COVID-19 related deaths compared to other causes continues to rise. Social care remains the frontline for the pandemic and we need to do all that we can to shield the most vulnerable people and reduce the impact of the virus. You can read more about this below.

If you have any issues facing your services or wider community please do continue to email us on This really does help inform our engagement on your behalf. As usual, we have continued to update responses to your frequently asked questions. This week we have new and updated responses on volunteering, waste and recycling, small business grants, finance and the economy, housing and deaths management. Please also continue to liaise with your Principal Adviser so we can use the intelligence you give us in our discussions with government and in determining how we best support councils.

This evening’s Number 10 Press Conference

This evening’s Number 10 Press Conference was led by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice. He was joined by the Chief Scientific Advisor at the Ministry of Defence, Professor Angela McLean.

The Environment Secretary, echoing the words of the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on Saturday, said that the country is moving from level 4 to level 3 under the Government’s new alert system.

Mr Eustice said the Government has launched its Pick for Britain website after only a third of seasonal workers normally expected for the summer’s harvest are currently in the country, adding that Britons will be required to “lend a hand” in bringing in this harvest.

On contact tracing, Professor McLean said that the Government are “aiming to emulate” the contract tracing regime in South Korea, and is will looking at what lessons it can learn about the importance of testing capacity from Germany.

Finally, in response to a question on whether council costs would be covered “pound for pound”, Mr Eustice said the Government recognises COVID-19 has put pressure on local authorities. He added that councils will have funds set aside for such circumstances.

We do not accept the Secretary of State’s position that councils will have funds available to cover the financial challenges created by the pandemic – higher costs and reduced income. On the basis of information submitted to the Government by councils last month it was clear that, even where some reserves might be available to help in the short term, this would not cover even half of the overall challenge this financial year. We continue to urge the Government to provide a cast-iron guarantee that all costs and income pressures created by COVID-19 and its subsequent economic fallout will be met.

School admissions

In recent weeks, a number of new powers and duties have been introduced for councils, along with amendments to existing legislation. We have summarised the changes, to help you navigate these complex pieces of legislation as they come into force. Our latest document helps to explain the recent changes in school admissions. This has also been added to our useful subscription service LG Inform Plus, which maintains lists of primary legislation covering all the powers and duties English and Welsh local authorities are responsible for. It also provides councils with more than one billion data values to help you understand your local areas, make better strategic decisions, streamline resources and improve governance.

Children’s services

The Department for Education has announced the creation of a £37 million fund to support children with special educational needs and disabilities during 2020/21. Families with children who have complex needs and disabilities will receive grants for vital equipment to make their lives easier while implementing social distancing measures, including computers, specialist equipment and educational toys.

The Family Fund will help low-income families with seriously ill or disabled children with the cost of equipment, goods or services - from washing machines and refrigerators to sensory and educational equipment that they might not otherwise be able to afford. The grants are typically worth £400 to £500 per family and vary depending on need.

Adult social care

A session of the House of Commons Social Care Committee this morning explored the management of the outbreak in care settings. Evidence was heard from James Bullion, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and representatives from Care England, the membership body for care providers, and the National Care Forum, the membership body for not-for-profit organisations in the care sector. Care providers remain keen for the funding councils have secured from central government to be allocated to supporting adult social care services and the provider market. We continue to reiterate that councils are facing many and growing calls on non-ringfenced COVID-19 funding, and we need additional resources to allow councils to continue to support social care and all the services experiencing pressures during this time.

Deaths in care homes

The importance of doing all we can to protect care home residents and staff has been illustrated today by the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics. These, encouragingly, show another weekly decrease in the number of COVID-19 related deaths, as well as the overall number of deaths in care homes for all causes. However, deaths in care homes involving COVID-19 as a cause, as a percentage of all deaths, continues to rise. This now stands at 39.2 per cent of all care home deaths, compared to 31.1 per cent of all deaths. Meanwhile, the latest government figures suggest almost 40 per cent of care homes have had at least one confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. Alongside our calls for councils to have a greater role in testing and tracing, we continue to press for the Government’s online PPE ordering system to be fully operational as soon as possible, so that councils and care providers can directly request that critical protective equipment gets to the frontline where it is desperately needed.

Personal Protective Equipment

A letter from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been circulated to councils today providing information and guidance on PPE for personal assistants who are employed through a personal budget.

Personal assistants often deliver services with a clinical need for PPE. Guidance is frequently updated and a resource is being developed to specifically include personal assistants that will be published on the PPE Hub.

If a personal assistant lives in the same accommodation as the person they are supporting, they will only need additional PPE if the person is in the shielded group or has symptoms of COVID-19.

Support for domestic violence services

The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office have today published further information on the Government funds available to support domestic abuse and wider sexual violence services. This is part of the Government’s previous announcement to provide £76 million to support the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic.

The Ministry of Justice has made available £25 million, £20 million of which will be made available to police and crime commissioners for domestic abuse and sexual violence services, with the remaining £5 million for a National Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Fund.

The Home Office has made available £2 million for domestic abuse charities, with a national or regional presence, which are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but which are not covered by other funding streams for domestic abuse charities.

We continue to work with the Government, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, councils, and domestic abuse partners on this important issue. This is also a good opportunity to remind you that we have published a guide for councils on tackling domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will also be briefing MPs ahead of the Domestic Abuse Bill’s Committee Stage debates and have written a briefing for the House of Commons Second Reading for the Bill.

If you would like further information about tackling domestic abuse and the funding announcements, please email


Today Public Health England has published operational advice to support people using or dependent on alcohol, drugs or nicotine while rough sleeping.

This operational advice is for council public health commissioners and drug and alcohol treatment providers who are responding to the health needs of people in emergency accommodation.

Additional clinical guidance on delivering a health-led approach to reducing risks amongst people experiencing homelessness has come from the Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health. This guidance has been the basis of many areas’ health response to delivering care for people experiencing rough sleeping.

We continue to press the Government for clarity on the support that will be made to available to councils – including resource – to ensure that people currently in emergency accommodation can be successfully moved on when restrictions end.

Back-to-work support

A new joint report by the Institute of Employment Studies, Learning and Work Institute, together with others, calls for a £1 billion ‘Youth Guarantee’ and urgent investment in education and back-to-work support. This helpful and timely report comes as we move into the second phase of the pandemic and look at what more we can do to help our local and national economies get back on their feet. We know councils and combined authorities are already working closely with employers, colleges and many others involved in education and job-training to make sure that nobody is left behind after we get through this crisis, and we continue to make the case to central government that councils are ideally placed to bring employment and skills initiatives together.

Leisure providers

In my bulletin last week I announced a new offer of support to bring councils with the same leisure provider together to discuss how they respond to requests for financial support. Thank you to those who have already been in touch. Local Partnerships will be providing support to councils who have contracts with Places Leisure, Greenwich Leisure (GLL), Freedom, and Fusion, in response to requests from providers for financial assistance and/or changes to contractual obligations. 

Additionally, for those councils who have contracts with providers not on the above list, you are invited to send us the name of your local provider and we will match you up to other councils with the same provider. Please email if you would like to take up either of these offers. You may also find our advice note on supporting leisure providers helpful. We continue to raise your concerns about the survival of the leisure sector with Government. 

Parks and outdoor activities

As the social distancing restrictions are gradually lifted, there is a risk that large numbers of people could visit commonly used green places, whilst not all facilities will have reopened yet. To help manage these numbers, disperse them across the country, and avoid wasted journeys, Natural England is working with Ordnance Survey to develop a website that displays information about outdoor activities by county and by activity. They are keen to include links to council information about walking, riding and cycling, especially anything aimed at those with particular needs. Please email if your council could contribute.

Waste and recycling

Out for my daily exercise I'm now spotting discarded face coverings and gloves around communities.  The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is using social media to remind the public to dispose of these items safely by putting used gloves and face masks into residual ‘black bag’ waste at home or at work, or in a litter bin. Gloves and masks should not be placed in recycling bins as they cannot be recycled through conventional facilities.

The temporary relaxation of drivers’ hours and working times rule is due to expire on 31 May. The Government is looking at the effects of this, with DEFRA specifically looking at the needs of the waste sector and is asking stakeholders, including councils, whether an extension of the current rules is required. They are asking councils for worked examples of where this has been essential and what the consequences of not extending the relaxation would be. Please contact if you have information that can be shared quickly.

Water supply safety

As our local economies start to open again it’s vital that we take the necessary health and safety precautions to ensure they are safe. Businesses are being urged to carry out vital safety checks to their water systems to avoid increasing the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has published new guidance on Legionella for businesses reopening. The guidance highlights key risk factors, legal requirements, and sets out advice to businesses on ensuring their water supply is safe and ready to use.

Thank you for everything you’re doing to help your residents and local businesses adapt to the easing of restrictions, while continuing to support many people in your communities.

Best wishes,

Mark Lloyd
Chief Executive
Local Government Association

Mark Lloyd