The situation remains tough across the country, with data showing that
cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. Over the weekend, South Yorkshire
became the latest region to come under tier 3 restrictions, with parts of
Nottinghamshire set to join them.
At the heart of negotiations between councils and Whitehall has been
the matter of financial support.
Last week the government announced allocations for a further
tranche of funding for local authorities. £900m of
the allocated funds are not ring fenced, with the money intended to
ensure that councils have the necessary resources over winter.
This is supplemented by £100m from DCMS to support leisure centres,
complementing the existing Sales, Fees and Charges scheme established by
government. Further details on the scheme will be set out in due course
New inquiry into local government finance
The Housing, Local Government and Communities Committee has announced
an inquiry into the spending review and local government finance. The
committee expects to consider what approach the government should take to
funding local government as part of the 2020 spending review. It will
also investigate the current financial health of local authorities and
their ability to deliver services. Significantly, this will include the
additional pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of
single year settlements on the ability of councils to plan and deliver
services in the long-term. The closing date for submissions is 27
November 2020. The call for evidence can be accessed here.
Public interest report
Grant Thornton has issued a
report in the Public Interest under section 24 and Schedule 7 of
the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 for London Borough of
Croydon. CFOs will be interested to note the report’s findings on
financial sustainability, borrowing, dedicated school grant and scrutiny.
Free school meals
The government’s recent refusal to extend free school meal vouchers
over the half term holiday has resulted in many local authorities (and
private businesses) stepping in to fill this gap. The government has
responded that it is right that councils should meet this cost and that
it provided £63m in June to local authorities to support those struggling
with food and essentials. However, demand for this support fund has been
high, and the government did extend free school meals over the summer
holidays. Many councils that are stepping in to meet this need are doing
so from their own pockets.
Given that the government previously extended free school meal
vouchers over both the Easter and summer holidays, and the £63m was
intended for wider purposes, CIPFA joins those urging the government to
reconsider this decision for the half term and Christmas holidays – or to
fully fund the cost of local authorities stepping in to ensure no child
Local lockdown grants
BEIS is hoping to be able to share allocation amounts and how this was
calculated this week. We understand the allocations are fixed and will
not be revised. There will be no additional payments if an authority
issues funding in excess of it grant allocation. A factsheet
has been published by HM Treasury.
Public Finance Live 2020
Last week, CIPFA hosted its first ever all-virtual annual conference.
With over 1,000 delegates registered, it represents one of our most
successful events to date. Thank you to everyone who attended. Sessions
have been made available on demand for 9 months for all registered
In our most recent podcast episode, we focus on fraud and corruption.
This week’s episode features Neil Green, Deputy Director, Counter Fraud
and Investigation for the Government Internal Audit Agency and Clair
Quentin, Research Associate to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax.
CFO webinar: Spending review and beyond
As part of our continued engagement with CFOs, we are delivering an
invitation only webinar on 10 November 2020, 11.00–12.15. The event
features HMT Deputy Director Tom Wipperman as our first guest speaker.
We are running a series of topical webinars exploring various
consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for local government and other
public service professionals.
• The future of adult social care. Watch
• The case for local government reorganisation. Watch
• Public sector performance reporting and the sustainable development
• Beyond COVID-19: What’s next in adult social care transformation? Watch
• A place for prevention. Watch
COVID-19 advice portal for local authorities
Essential guidance for local authorities on all aspects of coronavirus
support can be found on the GOV.UK website. It is being regularly updated
and should act as the definitive reference point for councils: COVID-19
guidance for local government.
Further advice and guidance can also be found on CIPFA’s
Please share any questions or issues you’re experiencing with Joanne
CIPFA Local Government Policy Manager: email@example.com
Chief Executive, CIPFA