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.
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.
This briefing summarises the key messages in the Adult Social Care Winter Plan (published by DHSC on 18 September 2020) and sets out the key actions for local authorities in a format that allows colleagues to clearly identify gaps.
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.
This emergency has highlighted the essential value of social care and public health to the wider public and this needs to be harnessed in thinking about the future of care, support and wellbeing when we look beyond the pandemic.
We welcome the updated PPE guidance from Public Health England around social care settings, the first one focusing on care homes was issued last week. We now urgently need to see the updated guidance on domiciliary care.
Protecting and supporting communities, including the most vulnerable, remains councils’ top priority. Council staff are working 24 hours a day to help delay the virus, minimise the spread of infection and keep people safe and well. Council colleagues are doing an amazing job in hugely challenging circumstances and we pay the highest tribute to their commitment and dedication.
The underfunding of adult social care and support sector is impacting on the quality of life of people who have care and support needs. It is also creating a fragile provider market, putting workforce and unpaid family carers under further strain, creating unmet and under-met need and impacting on social care’s ability to help mitigate demand pressures on the NHS.
In recent years, adult social care has been propped up by one-off, piecemeal injections of funding. This hampers councils’ ability to plan for anything beyond a short-term horizon. Social care and public health funding should therefore be given the same long-term certainty as NHS funding.