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Measures announced to help councils as coronavirus spreads

The communities secretary has pledged to support local authorities in their response to the coronavirus, as it continues to spread around the world.

Robert Jenrick addressed more than 300 council leaders and sector bodies yesterday (17 March) in a call on the government’s response to coronavirus.

He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to supporting councils to focus their efforts on the priority area of social care, providing vital support for vulnerable people and supporting their local economies.

‘As part of the national effort to keep the public safe and deliver essential public services, this government stands with local councils at this difficult time,’ said Mr Jenrick.

‘My absolute priority is to ensure they are well placed to respond to coronavirus and protect vital services, including social care.

‘Everyone needs to play their part to help the most vulnerable in society and support their local economy, and the government will do whatever is necessary to support these efforts.’

As well as confirming that May’s local, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections have been delayed until next year, the government has now confirmed:

  • Routine Care Quality Commission inspections will be temporarily suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Ofsted will look very favourably on any requests to defer inspections because of coronavirus
  • Councils will be able to use their discretion on deadlines for Freedom of Information requests
  • The deadline for local government financial audits will be extended to 30 September 2020
  • It will consider bringing forward legislation to remove the requirement for annual council meetings to take place in person
  • It will consider bringing forward legislation to legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period

    Photo Credit – Derwiki (Pixabay)

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