“Councils need adequate resources and funding certainty to not only cope with this immediate coronavirus crisis but to continue providing other vital public health services for the long term."
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Protecting and supporting communities, including our most vulnerable, remains councils’ top priority as the nation contains and delays coronavirus.
“Council staff continue to work day-and-night to support national efforts to contain the virus and minimise the spread of infection. They are doing an amazing job in hugely challenging circumstances.
“A widespread coronavirus epidemic across the country would inevitably have an impact on the wide range of services councils provide and communities rely on. As always, they will follow the expert advice from our Directors of Public Health, Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officer.
“Councils are aware that residents will have concerns for vulnerable family and friends if this virus spreads further. They have plans in place for every possible scenario, for example if large numbers of key workers are off sick at one time or schools are closed, or if extraordinary containment or delay measures are recommended by the Government.
“This includes looking at how they could best use their staff and mobilise resources to continue supporting the most vulnerable and mitigate against the inevitable disruption to other important services, such as bin collections and street cleaning.
“If the virus spreads further, demand for adult social care services will rise due to increased illness among those who use these services, as well as reduced capacity as social care staff fall ill themselves.
“This could be further impacted by hospitals needing to discharge people even sooner than at present owing to the pressures on them, as well as other factors such as school closures or transport restrictions.
“With local partners, councils have also been looking at changes to the process around how deaths are managed as part of their emergency planning, as they have done for previous major incidents, such as the swine flu outbreak.
“Public health services have seen funding reduced by £700 million in real terms over the past five years and are still in the dark about the amount of funding they will have from April.
“The public health grant has to be published by the Government with the utmost urgency and the upcoming Budget needs to ensure councils receive the immediate financial support they need to match that offered to the NHS to deal with coronavirus.
“Councils need adequate resources and funding certainty to not only cope with this immediate coronavirus crisis but to continue providing other vital public health services for the long term, such as those tackling teenage pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and substance misuse.”