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
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
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
Full details of the statement can be
found on our website.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
any questions or issues you’re experiencing to Joanne Pitt,
CIPFA Local Government Policy Manager: email@example.com