From:                                   Rob Whiteman, CIPFA <cipfa@email.cipfa.org.uk>

Sent:                                    17 June 2020 15:16

To:                                        Moore, Ashleigh

Subject:                                CIPFA COVID-19 Bulletin

 

Weekly update on coronavirus

CIPFA | The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy


CIPFA COVID-19 Bulletin

This week, we have seen shops in some parts of the UK opening their doors for the first time since 23 March. Queues formed outside many well-known retailers, but a big unknown remains - what does the pandemic mean for our high streets in the long term? After three months of enforced isolation, will shoppers revert to their pre-COVID behaviours or will we see a shift in consumer activity towards new shopping habits? Will smaller local high streets be seen as safer and more in tune with the public mood on reduced consumerism and sustainability? Local authorities have always had an important part to play in the shaping and regeneration of local economies and this must continue. The inclusion of CFOs in crafting this vision will be vital to ensure sustainable financial decisions are supporting future local plans.

However, as we rebuild, we must be mindful of the pre-existing economic inequalities the crisis is likely to deepen. Research released last week by the IFS set out the varying impacts that will be experienced in different regions of the UK. 

The after-effects of COVID-19 will be far-reaching and anything but fair, amplifying pre-crisis inequalities that have stemmed from a decade of fiscal austerity. Across industries, sectors, geographies and generations, redistribution will become a more pressing public policy imperative than at any time in recent memory.

As conditions evolve over the coming months, flexibility in the policy response will be needed to ensure that support is targeted in line with a shifting a picture of need. The recovery phase will require compassion, generosity and vigilance in public spending.

Guidance on S.114 updated 

With central government still considering how to support local authorities through this pandemic, and accelerating demand across all local services, any freezes on spending in any local area could potentially be highly disruptive. Temporary changes to CIPFA guidance during this period will create space to explore options or financial support that may be available to local authorities, while allowing finance directors to meet their statutory responsibilities. 

Full details of the statement can be found on our website. 

Test and Trace funding 

Local authorities across England have been allocated a share of £300m to support the new Test and Trace service. This has been distributed to local authorities in England on the basis of public health grants: 2020 to 2021.

Business rate grant        

A recent IFS study identified that the COVID-19 grant scheme for businesses was inequitable, supporting fewer businesses in areas with high property prices. We have been aware of this for some time and, in conversations with MHCLG officials, have made our position clear. Government has committed £12.3bn to support business via the grants scheme and, should there be any funding remaining after all grants are paid to eligible businesses, CIPFA would support the redistribution of these to ensure the full level of support offered by government is used for its intended purpose. 

Adult social care 

The recent NAO report on the NHS and adult social care showed there has been a clear lack of understanding from government of the impact of COVID–19 on the adult social care sector. Social care settings, while capable of dealing with outbreaks of some infections, could not reasonably be expected to deal with the demands of the current situation. 

In addition to the report from the NAO, ADASS released part one of their annual budget survey, reaffirming the extent to which the social care sector was failed by the government response to the pandemic. 

At CIPFA, we’re clear in our position. It’s time for government to stop treating social care like the poor relation. COVID-19 should be a catalyst for reform – the shift in public perception of health and care means there may never be a better time to address this thorny issue. 

Upcoming webinars

Understanding the economic impacts of COVID-19: Macro and local government perspectives – 18 June 2020, 11.00 – 12.00

As the UK economy emerges from the depths of an acute recession, the landscape is lined with fragile expectations and great uncertainty. What will the recovery mean for local government spending and its ability to provide a swathe of public services that are needed now more than ever? How will this increased demand be funded given the economic realities of the lockdown? And what does this all mean for the government’s levelling up agenda?

Register for this webinar here.

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 COVID-19 hub.

Please share any questions or issues you’re experiencing to Joanne Pitt,
CIPFA Local Government Policy Manager: joanne.pitt@cipfa.org

Rob Whiteman
Chief Executive, CIPFA


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