Government Business 28.01

Government Business 28.01

Positives for local gov

There hasn’t been much over the last year, but there has been some positive news to local government this week.

The local government finance settlement has been confirmed, with much-needed access to an extra £1bn for social care to help support vulnerable adults and children. On top of this, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced NHS reforms, with ministers seeking to advance the way in which councils and NHS services set up bodies that can make decisions about how to join up services. Although this has been happening for a number of years now already, having government backing can only be a good thing.

Although incredibly overdue, there is now central government funding available for the removal of unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in high-rise buildings, backed by an investment of £3.5bn, whilst the Cabinet Office has said that the government pledge to raise billions of pounds by selling off surplus land and buildings which were no longer needed by the public sector has been exceeded.

But, perhaps most importantly of all, as many as nine in 10 local authorities in England have now signed up to the community coronavirus testing programme to offer regular targeted testing for people without symptoms.

Whilst hospital data still provides stark warning against complacency, there is no denying that involving local authorities in testing and tracing in their communities has boosted the reach of the government’s programme, and with vaccine targets likely to be met the ongoing need for local assistance will only grow. Their unrivalled knowledge and connections must be properly utilised moving forward.

Michael Lyons, editor

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