The Local Government Association has called for additional powers to be given to local government as it published a briefing on the measures contained in the Coronavirus Bill.
The LGA has urged the government to:
- temporarily relax the requirements on councils regarding GDPR and FOI;
- allow councils to turn on the power to relax their adult social care duties under the Care Act in their areas, rather than reserving this power to the Secretary of State;
- remove all the statutory timescales, targets and obligations around non-essential processes that are not critical to supporting the immediate wellbeing of residents, such as the Right to Buy;
- create a new duty of care for landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to ensure tenants can satisfactorily self-isolate. "This should include a power to levy a significant fine for non-compliance and/or give the local council the power to revoke HMO licence for breach of this duty."
The LGA said councils would need to re-prioritise certain public services as they lead local efforts to tackle the coronavirus and protect the vulnerable.
It added that the Bill, by “cutting unnecessary burdens and freeing up capacity in councils”, was positive.
The LGA’s briefing can be viewed here.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils are stepping up to play their role in supporting the national effort to tackle the Coronavirus. Acting as a fourth emergency service, local government is prioritising the most vulnerable to ensure they have the support they need.
“This is essential work in the nation’s interests. Councils will step-up, but this emergency will stretch them and their teams to the maximum as it will all public services.
“Additional powers should be added to the legislation to further support councils in their efforts to tackle this emergency.”