Coronavirus latest: update from the LGA's Deputy Chief Executive

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


LGA Logo with padding 2019

From the LGA's Deputy Chief Executive

28 May 2020

Twitter IconLinkedIn IconFacebook IconYoutube icon

Dear Colleague,

Today is the deadline by which the Cabinet is mandated to review the current measures in place in England to minimise the spread of infection, as they now do every three weeks. At this evening's press conference, The Prime Minister confirmed that the five tests set out by the Government for changing the current restrictions are currently being met. Of course, we already know the next steps for some children in early years settings, reception and years 1 and 6 to potentially return to school from Monday. Years 10 and 12 could return in some form in a couple of weeks. We also have the plans for non-essential retail to open with social distancing next month, starting with open markets and car show rooms from Monday.

The Prime Minister also announced that from Monday, six people will be able to meet in public spaces and private outdoor spaces, such as gardens, if different households stay 2 metres apart. I am sure you will join me in being grateful that we will be able to see our non-vulnerable family and friends again safely. As restrictions ease though I share your concern about how this will be managed in practice.

Ahead of next week’s phased return, you may have seen our press release calling for additional funding for early years providers to ensure there are enough childcare places available for families who need them during the pandemic and beyond. Providers have faced significant funding challenges through the COVID-19 crisis, with some operating at a loss in order to remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. While settings can open to more children from 1 June, concerns around limited demand mean that funding challenges are likely to be ongoing. Councils and providers are concerned that this could mean redundancies or even closures, losing the skilled and passionate staff that provide essential support to children, and limiting the availability of childcare for those who want or need it. We have called on the Government to provide additional funding to ensure that early years settings are able to play their crucial role in efforts to get the economy moving again.

On wider finances, as you will know, we have been closely analysing the financial returns councils sent into the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) earlier this month. They demonstrate what your council is experiencing across the whole of local government – cost and demand pressures alongside significant drops in income. We will continue to keep this high on the agenda through our media, parliamentary and other work, as we continue to press to ensure you have the finances you need to keep supporting communities and local economies through the pandemic.

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. 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

Today’s Number 10 Press Conference was led by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. He was joined by Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance and Chief Medical Officer Professor Christ Whitty. The Prime Minister confirmed that the five tests set out by the Government for changing the current restrictions are currently being met. For this reason, the Government will move forward with ‘limited and cautious’ changes to the lockdown measures. Schools will be opened up to more children from Monday 1 June. This includes nurseries and early years, and reception Years 1 and 6 in primary schools. From 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide face to face contact time for Years 10 and 12.

From Monday 1 June, outdoor retail and car showrooms will be permitted to open, with other non-essential retail to follow on 15 June provided they are able to enforce the correct social distancing measures. In a new announcement, from Monday 1 June up to six people will be permitted to meet outside, including in private gardens and outdoor spaces, provided people from separate households stay two metres apart. Government guidance is to follow. The Prime Minister said that with future local outbreaks, some measures will need to be re-imposed. The launch of the NHS Test and Trace programme today, he said, was a huge step forward.

Test and trace

The new NHS Test and Trace service was officially launched today across England. The Government has published an overview of the new service, including what happens if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive.

The new programme brings together four tools to control the virus:

  • Test: increasing availability and speed of testing will underpin NHS Test and Trace.
  • Trace: when someone tests positive for Coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will use dedicated contact tracing staff, online services and local public health experts to identify any close recent contacts they've had and alert those most at risk of having the virus who need to self-isolate. This will be complemented by the rollout of the NHS COVID-19 App in the coming weeks.
  • Contain: a national Joint Biosecurity Centre will work with councils and public health teams in Public Health England, including local directors of public health, to identify localised outbreaks and support effective local responses, including plans to quickly deploy testing facilities to particular locations. This follows the £300 million of new funding to help local authorities develop their own local outbreak control plans.
  • Enable: the Government will learn more about the virus, including as the science develops, to explore how we could go further in easing infection control measures.

On testing, the Government has also today expanded testing availability for children under 5, to help support the phased opening of schools and childcare settings in England to more children from 1 June.

Local government’s crucial role in stopping the spread of infection was discussed by the Chairman of our Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, live on BBC News last night.

To help councils communicate the new service to your residents, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has produced some graphics and videos for social media. This also includes a Q&A document to help councils promote the service. Public Health England will also be updating their Resource Centre with new NHS Test and Trace marketing materials.

DHSC has also published a range of new guidance on the test and trace service. This includes:


The Department for Education has amended the Schools Forums (England) Regulations 2012 to clarify that schools forums are able to continue to meet remotely, for example through video or telephone conferencing, while they are unable to meet physically in a room during the pandemic. The regulations were presented before Parliament today.

This change ensures that schools forums can continue to play their role uninterrupted during this year’s funding cycle. The regulations therefore cease to have effect at the end of the current financial year, although the Department for Education will review how successful they’ve been and whether it is worth making the change permanent. The schools forum operational and good practice guide will be updated shortly.

The British Psychological Society has today published new guidance to support education professionals to meet the psychological needs of children as they plan for their return to school. ‘Back to School: using psychological perspectives to support re-engagement and recovery’ complements government advice and offers a psychological perspective on the process of re-engaging children and young people with school.


Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today show there were an estimated 771,000 young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) in January to March 2020 – an annual increase of 6,000 compared with January to March 2019. As we move into the next phase, it is vital young people have the opportunities to increase their skills and retrain. We continue to call for the devolution of careers advice post-16 and skills budgets and powers to local areas, which would allow councils, schools, colleges and employers to work together to improve provision for young people so that they can get on in life.

Beach safety

Earlier this week we heard the sad news that two people drowned on crowded beaches over the bank holiday weekend. I know many councils representing coastal and tourist hotspots are concerned that large numbers of people may continue to descend on your areas over coming weekends as the weather stays fine and sunny.

This poses a particular challenge for those councils responsible for beach safety, especially as the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) is due to roll out just a small handful of lifeguards at beaches this weekend whilst the rest of the lifeguard provision remains suspended. RLNI plan to have only 70 lifeguarded beaches in place by peak season, 30 per cent of its usual capacity.

The RNLI has asked that the Government restrict access and that people should be banned from swimming in the sea until lifeguards can be installed. Together with HM Coastguard, the RNLI has launched a new beach safety campaign, urging parents to protect their families by following key safety advice to save lives this summer. MHCLG have asked that we share any particular concerns councils have about their local area – please email

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have also asked councils to look at their guidance on managing beach safety.

Care home plans

Following further representations from LGA and ADASS regarding the submission of care home plans, the Better Care Support team has confirmed that while the requirement to submit both the narrative and the template by tomorrow remains, given the short timescales given, it is accepted that there may be delays in publishing the plans and councils may need to revise these following submission. The requirement is therefore that publication of the plans should take place as soon as possible after plans are finalised, rather than tomorrow.

Please note that councils are still required to publish the financial support they and clinical commissioning groups are offering to providers on their website by tomorrow.

Adult social care

A webinar is being hosted next week to look at the experience of partnership working on the ground during COVID-19, as well as future opportunities. The panel includes Dr Nikki Kanani, Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement and Simon Williams from the LGA.

If you would like to take part on Friday 5 June between 3.00pm and 4.00pm please email by Wednesday 3 June. You will be able to send questions in advance or during the event.

Health and wellbeing boards

Following some rapid research with a sample of health and wellbeing board chairs, we have refocused our improvement support with a simple tool to help reset health and wellbeing boards as they move into the next phase of COVID-19. We can also offer free, tailored support, from a telephone call to talk through issues to a virtually facilitated workshop. To find out more please contact 

Clinically extremely vulnerable list

The DHSC has today circulated a letter to clinical groups and patient groups to clarify the process of removing patients from the clinically extremely vulnerable list. On 10 April, NHS England wrote to GPs requesting that they review the list for accuracy. Although GPs should have been able to discuss their decision to remove a patient from the list with people first, some have reported receiving a text message in advance of this. We will continue to be feed your concerns to Government on the impacts of this on vulnerable people and on the support councils have been providing to them.

Support for domestic violence services

Refuge, which runs the national domestic abuse helpline, has said it has had a 10-fold increase in visits to its website in the past two weeks. Although restrictions are beginning to ease, it is still a very worrying time for victims of domestic abuse.

In addition to Government guidance on domestic abuse, other resources that could help councils support affected individuals during this time include:

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

Safer transport and active travel

As schools start to reopen, the Department for Transport (DfT) has created a set of communication assets for councils and others to share through their communication channels. These will help them to communicate to parents and children the guidance about cycling or walking and explain to those that need to use public transport how to do so safely.

The DfT sent letters yesterday to councils, combined authorities and Transport for London on the indicative allocations for phase 1 of the emergency active travel funding. The £225 million allocated to local authorities will be released in two phases. The first tranche of £45 million will be released as soon as possible so that work can begin at pace on closing roads to through traffic, installing segregated cycle lanes and widening pavements. They will be writing again with details of phase 2. For a copy of the letter please email

Funerals, burials and cremation

The Competition and Markets Authority has announced a new timetable for submissions to their investigation into the funeral market, including crematoria pricing and possible remedies. During the COVID-19 response the original deadline was suspended, however they have now announced that they are asking for responses to the working papers they published on 20 February by 12 June, with any final submissions before the provisional decision report is published by 19 June. The revised timetable outlines that the provisional decision report will be published in July/August.

I hope you found this update helpful.

Best wishes,

Sarah Pickup
Deputy Chief Executive
Local Government Association

Sarah Pickup