On behalf of its members, the cross-party LGA regularly briefs parliamentarians of all political affiliations on issues of concern and relevance to local government ahead of debates in Parliament. The most recent of these can be found here, as can the LGA's written responses to parliamentary inquiries, such as those held by Select Committees.
At the LGA we will be helping to celebrate and honour the accomplishments of black Britons by sharing councillor perspectives on the importance of Black History Month and the vital contributions of black councillors to our local communities.
The most recent test and trace figures prove again that councils’ public health teams, with their unique expertise and understanding of their communities, have more success in reaching complex close contacts of positive cases, where NHS Test and Trace has been unable to do so.
The Government made £3.2 billion worth of emergency funding available to councils to address the immediate pressures of the COVID-19 crisis. However, this funding was predominantly targeted towards direct frontline issues such homelessness and supporting the vulnerable. The culture, tourism and support sector still face’s significant funding challenges, despite the Government’s £1.57 billion support package for the cultural sector.
We welcome closer working between the VOA and local authorities. This must be accompanied by measures to significantly reduce the backlog of appeals. The VOA and councils must receive additional funding to implement these changes.
Nationally prescribed permitted development rights disempower communities and local councils. The approach inhibits local government’s ability to make decisions on behalf of their communities based on their local knowledge and evidence.
While these powers are a welcome addition to the tools that councils have to tackle local outbreaks, and some councils have issued directions, there are also some challenges in using the directions. The regulations include the threshold of a serious and imminent threat to public health before a direction can be issued, and there is a need to consult with both the local Director of Public Health and to inform the Secretary of State for Health. This threshold has had the effect of deterring councils in areas where there has not to date been a significant rise in infections from issuing directions, in the belief that they do not meet the test of a serious and imminent threat to public health.
Business rates account for around a quarter of all council spending power. Money raised is used to pay for vital local services, such as caring for older and disabled people, protecting children, fixing potholes and collecting bins.
The visitor economy sector has taken one of the biggest financial hits due to COVID-19. Gaps in support packages alongside the absence of the seasonal boost the industry usually sees over the summer means the impact of the pandemic will be felt in the weeks and months to come, with many at risk of closure.
Councils want to work with the Government to develop post COVID-19 recovery options. The economic, social and environmental recovery our communities need will look different in different areas of the country and only a locally coordinated response will be effective.