LGA COVID-19 support offer

The majority of the LGA’s operation is now focused on supporting local government and communities to address COVID-19 and its consequences. This page summarises the current refocused support offer.


The LGA has rapidly focused its support to councils to ensure its resources are best placed to help with immediate challenges presenting now and in the future. With this impetus, the vast majority of the LGA’s operation is now focused on supporting local government and communities to address COVID-19 and its consequences.

The current refocused support offer is summarised below. Councils who wish to access any element of the support outlined should contact their Principal Adviser.

Principal Adviser support to councils

Our network of Principal Advisers and small regional teams are dedicating all their capacity to directly support and advise councils as they look to address the COVID-19 crisis.

As the regionally based link into the LGA for all councils, Principal Advisers are a key conduit between local and central government; ensuring local, regional and individual council issues are informing the national response.

Where councils require bespoke support in specific areas such as children’s and adults services, Principal Advisers can link you with our Care and Health Improvement Advisers and Children’s Improvement Advisers. They can also link you with specialists in the LGA across a range of place based, people based, finance, governance and workforce services and can access political support and mentoring for elected  members via our political group offices and regional peers.

The LGA recognises the need for clear communication with the right Government departments, at the right time. As such, we are supporting the work of the nine regional lead chief executives and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) through the leadership of the LGA’s Chief Executive, Mark Lloyd, with support from the rest of the LGA. Our Principal Advisers are also building on their well-established networks to increasingly work more closely with the relevant lead chief executive in each region, Local Resilience Forums/SCGs and regional civil servants to support the co-ordination and streamlining of activity, to avoid duplication and reduce burdens on councils.

Throughout this period, the LGA is also retaining the flexibility to divert and help identify resource and expertise to support councils who are facing the most significant challenges. Principal Advisers are happy to discuss this with councils in more detail should this be needed.

Supporting leadership

The scale of the challenge that councils are currently facing requires strong, responsive and resilient leadership. To address this, we are refocusing our leadership offer so that senior councillors and officers have access to learning resources and the ability to share their experiences with their peers. This includes ensuring that councillors have access to online leadership tools that support their vital community leadership role in their national effort to respond to COVID-19, including through neighbourhood and community engagement. 

Support currently available:

  • We've upgraded our councillor e-learning platform and made it easier to access. A new module "Holding council meetings online" has recently been added.
  • A series of webinars to support councillors and political leaders that will aid their vital community leadership role during COVID-19 and beyond.
  • A private KHub group  This has been set up to provide remote online networks, where councillors can share their learning, practice and experiences on themed portfolio areas. The group is being facilitated by LGA staff and will continue to build content over time. Intelligence will be used to inform future initiatives for councillors as they manage the COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences. Please note that a simple sign up/login process is required to ensure the privacy of the group.
  • A guidebook on ‘Being an effective cabinet member’ – This guidebook is a distance learning aid to support cabinet members in their role, including decision-making, whole cabinet working, leadership styles in times of crisis and officer/member relationships.
  • One-to-one leadership development  For the next three months, councillors in leadership positions are able to access one-to-one development conversations with Leadership Academy Facilitators.  These sessions will be focussed on helping councillors adapt their leadership style through three structured coaching calls.  To find out more, please email grace.collins@local.gov.uk
  • Other resources – This range will include a new mental health hub for elected members and an e-learning unit on handling intimidation. These resources and others will be available to support councillors as part of the LGA’s civility in public life programme.

The LGA is also working with Solace to offer executive coaching to chief executives and nominated senior officers.

Financial resilience

The LGA has repurposed its expert financial associates to support councils with the new and enhanced challenges during this period. We will work collaboratively with other stakeholders to deliver this and ensure that councils have the guidance they need. 

Coming out of the immediate crisis, financial leadership support will respond to the changed circumstances we find around us.  We are identifying ways that our diagnostic approach can support councils with the greatest COVID-19 related financial challenges. We are also providing support to councils experiencing difficulties in their commercial activities given the current financial climate and identifying experts who can support local economies as the work toward a position of recovery in the future.

Guidance for finance portfolio holders: A new paper that outlines and discusses the key issues that elected members, particularly those in finance and wider leadership positions, should consider when assessing the impact of COVID-19 on council finances.

Adult social care

The Care and Health Improvement Programme is the sector-led improvement programme for adult social care funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and delivered jointly with the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS) and Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH).

We are now offering a refocused programme of support to councils, tailored to individual needs. This includes guidance and advice on implementation, bespoke support and webinars, around the following themes:

  • Whole systems improvement – focusing on the interface with hospitals but continuing support around transforming care and looking to capture/share innovations that are happening on the ground
  • Sustainable, safe and personalised care – developing guidance addressing provider concerns with partners around PPE, safety and human rights, good commissioning and financial resilience.
  • Prevention and wellbeing – concentrating on issues surrounding volunteering, shielding and how social care works with Community Hubs.
  • Social justice – providing emergency legislation support on guidance and roll out and ensuring that marginalised groups (e.g. rough sleepers, substance misusers, people with behaviour that challenges, people with mental ill health) are supported and protected.
  • National and local data – analysis of latest information including daily sitreps on the state of social care at local authority level available online from LG Inform.

This support also links to wider LGA support for financial and governance resilience, workforce capacity and expertise to support government, for example the LGA workforce team liaises closely with NHS Employers to ensure that NHS guidance on employment issues takes account of local government staff on NHS terms and conditions.

Children’s services

Our network of regional Children’s Improvement Advisors (CIAs) are working closely with directors of children’s services across the country to identify and address issues and challenges, share practice across places and agree opportunities to use limited resources differently and develop new, joint approaches. Analysis from CIAs provides Department for Education (DfE) officials with insights into challenges facing the sector, letting them know where improved clarity and guidance is urgently required. CIAs will also play an active role in the new regional REACT forums are being established to provide a single point of contact with DfE.

The LGA is working closely with DfE and the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) to ensure children’s services and education departments have the information, powers, funding and flexibilities to continue to meet the needs of vulnerable children, including those with SEND.

New ways to support lead members for children’s services are also being considered and the South West have hosted the first virtual lead member network, with a view to this being rolled out in other regions.

Public health

The LGA is working with the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) to provide a bespoke support offer to directors of public health and their teams for testing, contact tracing and outbreak management. This support aims to create additional capacity, with health protection expertise, as part of the local response to COVID-19. 

Find out more

Workforce capacity and support

The LGA workforce team continues to support councils by sharing good practice across the sector, maximising economies of scale, saving time and resources. This includes supporting on-line regional webinars, forums and networks. We are collating and sharing the approaches taken across councils, responding to workforce issues as they emerge. This support includes weekly updates on regional activity and increased information sharing via bulletins.

The team is working with partner agencies and government departments to produce information and guidance for councils to help their workforces adapt to new working practices and to support staff wellbeing while they are maintaining services in difficult circumstances.

The workforce team produces regular guidance for councils on the employment law implications of COVID-19 including additional guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furloughing) and critical worker provisions. Our Senior Advisors are also working closely with relevant trade unions providing guidance for authorities on issues such as sick pay, contractual treatment of self-isolation and home working. Along with COVID-19 support, the team continue to progress annual pay negotiations and engage on wider industrial relations issues on behalf of the sector.

The LGA Workforce Planning programme continues, helping councils with advice and guidance to meet their workforce needs. During the crisis this means providing re-focused support to help councils develop redeployment practices, which can be crucial to keep vital services operating. The programme is also providing on line advice and support, facilitating virtual networks and developing an online community of practice. We continue to operate the apprenticeship programme to support councils with updates, advice and guidance, both in responding to queries and in offering support to help councils maintain existing apprenticeship programmes.

The workforce team has also been working closely with Social Work England and the Government on Social Work Together, a campaign to encourage social workers to come back to work to assist councils. This campaign runs in parallel with the existing Return to Social Work programme. Following a public call to all social workers (who have been off the register for up to 2 years and who have been placed on a temporary register by Social Work England) to return to work - those who are interested will be able to register their interest and details on our LGA platform. This platform adds their details to a talent pool that councils can access directly.

The workforce team has also been providing regular COVID-19 guidance to schools, particularly in relation to their partial closure from 20 March. The team holds regular sessions with stakeholders, helping schools to understand and navigate the various DfE guidance documents. We are also working closely with teaching unions, for example agreeing flexibility around notice periods.

Procurement

The procurement programme is now focusing on procurement and supply chain issues arising out of the COVID-19 emergency.  We are updating councils regularly on procurement policy and guidance working together with MHCLG, the Cabinet Office and other key departments to ensure that councils concern’s regarding essential supplies are escalated. We will continue to provide financial and other information relating to local government’s key/’at risk’ suppliers and include additional support to councils who identify particular procurement or supply chain issues that are best responded to on a regional or national basis.

Digital connectivity

A central focus is on how councils can use digital solutions to respond to COVID-19 within the community, reducing social isolation, supporting council staff to work remotely and councils to hold public meetings virtually – and on sharing this practice among the sector. Councils have raised concerns about connectivity and the LGA is working with mobile and broadband providers to enable councils to identify highlight issues.

Communications

The LGA have commissioned work to develop rapid and practical advice on community engagement. We are using our communications experts to provide support and advice to councils facing strategic communication issues around COVID-19 as these develop.

The LGA is also capturing examples of where councils have adopted good practice in tackling coronavirus on a dedicated webpage and is encouraging further contributions through the daily bulletin. These examples are being collated centrally on our website and shared amongst all councils to facilitate widespread learning across the sector.

Ongoing activity

Though COVID-19 response support has become the main focus of our support offer, some existing and ongoing support activity continues.

The impact of a cyber security attack on a council at a time when many are working remotely will be extensive. We will continue to engage with councils to raise awareness of cyber security and associated good practice. We will also work with councils to increase the number of cyber security trained personnel and develop some exemplar policy tools and frameworks. We are also looking to have a flexible arrangement that will allow us to provide resources to respond to cyber-incidents and cyber-security related needs as and when they arise.

The LGA is also continuing its climate change support programme. This programme seeks to provide councils and residents support in reaching their local carbon reduction targets to prevent the onset and mitigate the effects, of climate change. Our climate change web hub brings together an overview of the LGA support offer, including our innovation and leadership programmes associated with climate change, relevant publications and notable practice case studies. We will develop this source of support for local authority officers over the coming months.

National Graduate Development Programme (ngdp)

During March the LGA undertook around 50 per cent of the planned assessment centres for the sector’s national graduate development programme.  Graduates were not due to start in their roles until the autumn of 2020 and councils have been telling us that they would like to proceed with the recruitment.  Therefore, we will be holding digital assessment centres during June.  These will exercise the same rigour as the face-to-face assessment centres and will ensure that a intake of talented graduates will be recruited to work in participating councils during the Autumn of 2020.

Guidance from the LGA relating to COVID-19

Changes to local authority powers and duties resulting from the Coronavirus Act 2020

Councillor guidance: COVID-19 outbreak

Protecting vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak  

Remote Council Meetings Hub

Tackling domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic

The LGA will continue to update its support offer on COVID-19 in line with the shifting challenges that the sector is facing. Over time, the focus of our support will likely to move to supporting councils on COVID-19 recovery and transition issues and, when appropriate, returning to our wider improvement support offer. We would encourage feedback from councils on the types of support that they would most welcome going forward in relation to COVID-19 via coronavirus.enquiries@local.gov.uk or through your Principal Adviser.

In addition, the LGA has developed guidance for councils on COVID-19 on specific issues relevant to councillors’ involvement in our work leading and protecting our communities, supporting remote council meetings and supporting vulnerable people, amongst others. This guidance and wider COVID-19 support can be found on our coronavirus hub.

The LGA has also used LG Inform to create two COVID-19 reports showing hospital cases data over time, the rate per 100,000 people, and the top ten councils for cases (by total number, and as a rate). They’re updated on a daily basis, and can be found here:

Local authority report (which now shows a map of English authorities over time)  
England overview report (which contains the top ten councils)