District Council Response to the COVID-19 Illness
This is a fast-moving situation; the response to the Covid-19 illness has profound implications for the health system, for residents, businesses, the economy and district councils themselves. While the Government coordinates the national response, the Prime Minister is clear that councils will lead the local effort to beat the illness and safeguard local economies.
The DCN has a role to advocate for District Councils and to help support the sector in ways that are focused and has added value. Up to now the DCN has been involved in discussions with the Government, councils, and the LGA to put districts at the forefront of support for residents (i.e. Hardship Fund) and businesses (i.e. SME grants), while seeking to protect the continuity of council services.
This page signposts districts onto useful sites, promotes some useful documents/templates emerging from some places, begins to capture and present what districts are doing, and also poses some questions for districts on the key issues right now.
Sources of essential information and advice
- MHCLG summary of all COVID-19 guidance for local government
- Local Government Association summary of COVID-19 information to councils
- The Government’s wider advice on the coronavirus can be found here
- A link to new guidance from the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum on a range of issues faced by waste collection services, including social distancing in cabins
- The homelessness charity Crisis has developed a collaborative COVID-19 Toolkit for Statutory Homelessness Services to help councils considering how to support rough sleepers and the homeless during this time
Key issues DCN has been advocating for districts on issues such as:
Governance and partnership
For instance the role in Local Resilience Forum and local leads, collaboration with counties, housing partners and landlords, the community sector.
Support for residents
Helping the vulnerable not in hospital through ‘hub’ models; the shape of the Hardship Fund for those at risk from income/job loss; administration of revenue and benefits; childcare support for key workers; galvanising and safeguarding the community response; adapting use of assets; homelessness/rough sleeper support; support for social and private renters and vulnerable in supported housing; bereavement support and assisted funerals; overall communication.
Support for businesses
Business rate reductions and reliefs; SME grants via councils; insurance for local business; supporting business adaptation; communication and reassurance.
Continuing council services
Staff sickness; ‘key worker’ status; redeployment; management capacity; equipping for remote working; deferring local elections; loss of returns from income generating services; administration pressures in key services.
Calling all district council equality/community lead officers: a Knowledge Hub forum has been set up to collate information about how the pandemic is impacting on different groups. You’ll just need to sign up for a Knowledge Hub account first.
Example templates and strategies
Districts around the country are thinking through how to arrange services to respond to the current illness. Some template examples from some councils are given below:
- Template for the design and operation of the Hardship Fund
- Template for planning and managing the overall Organisational Response
District communication in action
Districts are establishing a range of means for communicating with residents and businesses. Some examples given below:
- Warwick District Council
- Arun District Council
- South Norfolk District Council
- Stroud District Council
- Chichester District Council
- Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council
- Crawley Borough Council
- Colchester Borough Council
- Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council