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.
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.
We are pleased that in the recent Spending Round, the Government has responded to our calls and provided desperately needed new money, including £1 billion for social care (children’s and adults), as well as confirming the continuation of existing grants. However, these one-off, piecemeal injections of funding hamper councils’ ability to plan for anything beyond a short-term horizon. Social care needs to be given long term funding certainty in the same way as the NHS, and we look forward to seeing the Government’s plans for long-term adult social care reform.
The NHS does not operate in isolation. The commitment for increased funding for the NHS will only be maximised if there is an equivalent scale of investment in social care, public health and prevention services that both improve people’s health, wellbeing and independence and relieve pressure on frontline NHS services.