National and Devolved Politics

23.03.20

LGA: Coronavirus Bill positive but further powers wanted

The Local Government Association (LGA) has published a briefing on the government’s Coronavirus Bill, debated by MPs today.

The LGA, which represents councils across England and Wales, outlines the measures in the bill deemed positive and welcome and also highlights further recommendations to support local government through the crisis.

Key messages included in the briefing response include the need for the temporary relaxation of council requirements regarding GDRP and FOI and giving councils the ability to relax adult social care duties under the Care Act in their areas.

It also sets out new duty of care measures for landlord of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to facilitate necessary self-isolation, including power to fine non-compliant landlords and revoke HMO licence for breach of this duty.

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:

“Councils are stepping up to play their role in supporting the national effort to tackle the Coronavirus. Acting as a fourth emergency service, local government is prioritising the most vulnerable to ensure they have the support they need.

“This is essential work in the nation’s interests. Councils will step-up, but this emergency will stretch them and their teams to the maximum as it will all public services.

“Additional powers should be added to the legislation to further support councils in their efforts to tackle this emergency.”

The Coronavirus Bill also looks at the announcement of £1.6bn in new funding to support local authorities’ response to pressured posed by Covid-19. The LGA are currently working with government to target the balance of the initial £5bn allocation for public services.

Local elections, set for 7 May 2020 have been postponed to 6 May 2021, freeing up local capability to protect local communities rather than continue campaigns, plans and other polls – another measure deemed ‘positive’ by the LGA.

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