LGA COVID-19 refocused support offer

The summary below describes the LGA’s COVID-19 refocused support offer to councils, as presented during the 2020/21 financial year

December 2020 to March 2021

The LGA rapidly focused its support to councils to ensure its resources were best placed to help councils with immediate challenges arising from the pandemic. With this impetus, the vast majority of the LGA’s operation was refocused on supporting local government and communities to address COVID-19 and its consequences.

The summary below outlines our complete offer for the 2020/21 period, including support provided through a wide range of separately funded grant programmes.

Rough sleeping peer support
Councils and their partners have worked tirelessly to support rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist with this on-going work, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) worked jointly with the LGA to develop and facilitate a peer support offer to assist councils in the next stage of their response.

Rough Sleeping Peer Support - Delivery and Impact Panel: A universal offer of a two-and-a-half-hour facilitated session designed to provide a safe space, framework and process for council lead officers to come together, reflect on their work to date, share and challenge learning and highlight good practice. Panel discussions are a collaborative process, with lead officers from other councils at the heart of the panel approach – providing mutual exchange of support, challenge and learning. 

Find out more on Rough Sleeping Peer Support

Peer Support offer

Contact: peer.updates@local.gov.uk or contact the Principal Advisor for your region

The LGA’s Remote Peer Support (RPS) offer provides councils with support and challenge to address COVID-19 related issues and broader challenges.  Councils have three distinct RPS options:

  • LGA Recovery & Renewal Panel: A Recovery and Renewal Panel is a focused two to three-hour remote session which creates space for a council to reflect on its response to COVID-19 and explore its recovery and renewal plans in an open and collaborative way. Each panel is made up of a small group of officer and member peers selected from the LGA’s unique pool of peers.
  • LGA Remote Corporate Health Check: A Remote Corporate Health Check is a flexible framework to support councils to focus on key corporate issues such as priority setting, place leadership and financial planning. It provides an opportunity for local leaders and senior officers to get independent support and challenge from a team of peers. ‘Remote onsite’ activity – typically including 1-1 discussions and focus groups – take place over two to three days followed by detailed written feedback.
  • LGA Bespoke Remote Peer Support (BRPS): BRPS is a flexible process for a council to focus on a specific issue or service area in greater depth. The peer support and process are tailored to each council’s specific requirements. BRPS has considered successfully a broad range of issues, such as governance, transformation and tourism.
  • Peer Challenges: We offer peer challenges across a range of different areas, including health inequalities however, COVID-19 measures meant that a number of these were suspended in 2020/21. 
Financial resilience offer

Contact: peer.updates@local.gov.uk

The LGA repurposed its expert financial associates to support councils with the new and enhanced challenges during this period. The support available included:

  • Associate (Finance Improvement and Sustainability Adviser) support: Advice and support with current and enhanced challenges such as:
    • Tracking the full costs of COVID19
    • Running in-year cost reduction exercises to offset the negative financial impact
    • Modelling the impact in 2020/21 and into the future
    • Kick-starting the 2021/22 budget process in conditions of huge uncertainty
    • Longer term planning
  • Collaborative panels/workshop pilots: – a Finance themed Recovery Panel (see ‘Peer Support Offer’ above for more)
  • Other support:
    • Provision of advice and guidance to councils considering issuing S114 notices
    • Provision of support in re-establishing transformation programmes
    • Support around use of data and intelligence.
Testing, tracing, and outbreak management support offer

Contact: outbreakmanagement@local.gov.uk

Leadership offer

The refocused leadership offer helped to ensure 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:

  • Councillor e-learning platform: Offering a range of modules to support members in their role, including handling intimidation, holding and chairing remote meetings, supporting mentally healthier communities and local government finance.
  • ‘In council’ training: This offer has been adapted to deliver a range of modules remotely for councillors, such as media training, scrutiny and chairing effective council meetings.
  • Webinars to support councillors and political leaders: Including the role of the ward councillor, the importance of opposition, what good opposition looks like, rapid innovation, virtual presentation skills and leading a council with a multi-party cabinet.
  • Political leadership programmes: Our political leadership programmes were delivered remotely, including the Leadership Academy and Leadership Essentials, which were recalibrated to support members so they can respond to various challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Being an effective cabinet member guide: A distance learning aid to support cabinet members in their role, including decision-making, whole cabinet working, leadership styles in times of crisis, such as the current one, and officer/member relationships.
  • Guidance for finance portfolio holders: A paper outlining and discussing 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.
  • One-to-one leadership development: A new development opportunity offering councillors in leadership positions access to one-to-one conversations with Leadership Academy Facilitators over three structured coaching calls. Sessions were focused on helping councillors adapt their leadership style in response to COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Emergency Coaching and Mentoring Support: Available to chief executives and nominated senior officers leading responses to COVID-19. Delivered in partnership with SOLACE.
  • Other resources: Other resources to support councils in responding to COVID-19 and its implications, including a mental health hub for elected members were further developed as part of the LGA’s civility in public life programme.
Productivity offer

Contact: productivity@local.gov.uk

The productivity offer has refocused to provide urgent support councils as they respond and adapt to and issues arising from COVID-19, as relating to procurement, supply chains, new ways of working and more.

  • Key supplier support and information: The provision of advice and other information relating to key and ‘at risk’ suppliers; includes support for councils who identify procurement or supply chain issues relating to COVID-19 and/or issue best responded to on a regional or national basis.
  • National procurement strategy resources: Toolkits and guidance on how to get the best out of procurement and contract management. We have set up a sub-group focusing on the specific supply chains around PPE, helped develop central Government guidance on supplier relief and organised webinars to help council procurement and commissioning officers get to grips with provider related issues in construction and children’s services.
  • Weekly Covid-19 Supply Chain bulletin: A weekly supply chain bulletin with all the latest news and information, guidance updates and offers of support to procurement officers and commissioners. Contact productivity@local.gov.uk to be added to the mailing list.
  • Remote Council Meetings Hub: Including access to a central pool of information, advice and guidance from partners across the sector, helping councils to maintain effective and good governance, while working remotely.
  • Transforming services using digital tools and solutions: The focus was on supporting councils to use digital solutions to respond to COVID-19 within the community, reducing social isolation, helping council staff to work effectively remotely by way of expert advice, case studies and grant funding.
  • Cyber Security Programme: A range of resources with a focus on embedding cultural change through improved leadership, governance and awareness, this programme supports councils through grant funding, tools, workshops, the COVID-19 response co-ordination and other sector wide initiatives.
  • Commercialisation:  Online commercial skills training for councillors and officers, specifically designed to support councils refocusing commercial activity impacted by COVID-19 and changes to investment guidance by CIPFA and MHCLG. There was also a range of free support, including guidance documents, networks, case studies and pilots.
  • Economic Growth Advisors Programme: This new programme was designed to build up the economic capacity of local areas to improve their economic future involving discussions with councils around several different areas including, tourism regeneration, inward investment and a skills launchpads. The LGA organised webinars and roundtables with good practice examples hosted on the new Economic Growth hub.
  • Behavioural Insights: Our Behavioural Insights programme supported a variety of projects to help local authorities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results and findings from these projects were shared to provide learning for all councils.
Communications offer

The LGA commissioned work to develop rapid and practical advice on community engagement during and in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

  • Virtual Communications Health Checks: A mixture of desk research and interviews to support councils to review their recovery communications plans and learnings from the COVID-19 response. Health checks focus on communications strategy, structure of the team and capacity and are led by a member of the communications support and improvement team or an LGA associate, alongside a council head of communications or communications manager.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) communications support and templates: This practical resource supported councils to plan for and think strategically about communications and engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, you’ll find materials covering a wide range of topics – from developing a plan internally and prioritising activity, to planning for local outbreaks and reducing vaccine hesitancy.
  • Events: Our events programme included events on a wide range of topics relating COVID-19 communications and associated issues, including local outbreaks, communicating with diverse communities and vaccine communications.
  • Communications experts: Experts provide guidance and advice to councils facing strategic communication issues around COVID-19 as these develop.
  • Good communications practice: Examples of good practice were being shared on the LGA website and via daily bulletins.
Data offer

Contact: LGInform@local.gov.uk and transparency@local.gov.uk

  • LG Inform: This is a service providing up-to-date data about councils and fire and rescue authorities. The database provides benchmarking data on a range of service areas and themes, enabling councils to review and compare performance with other authorities.
  • LG Inform COVID-19 reports:
    • Local authority report showing the number and rates of COVID-19 hospital cases by authority, compared to others
    • England overview report showing the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths across England as a whole, and the top ten councils for number and rate of cases
    • Weekly deaths report providing a summary of Office for National Statistics (ONS) weekly deaths data
    • Care homes report focusing on deaths in care homes in particular
    • Vulnerable groups report providing estimates of local authority populations likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19
    • Area characteristics report comparing case rates across all local authorities to other factors at a local area level, such as deprivation.
  • LG Inform Plus: The LG Inform Plus programme provides a single point of access to over 3,500 local government powers and duties (in primary legislation). This identifies all the relevant legislation underpinning local authority direct service provision, and identifies which services are mandatory and which are discretionary.  We rapidly updated our powers and duties module, to take into account both the new legislation which came into force with the passing of the Coronavirus Act, and a number of other legislative changes (including schools admissions and in relation to fostering and childcare and planning and road traffic orders). 
  • Workforce Data Collection: A fortnightly collection of key data is conducted to provide councils and local resilience fora with the workforce intelligence to compare progress effectively and plan locally, regionally and nationally. This provided councils with a range of information to help them partner with others; and to help shape government thinking.  
  • Predictive analytics: We published a guide to predictive analytics for councils and set up a Advanced & Predictive Analytics Network and resources hub.
  • Use of UPRNs: We started a project with GeoPlace to encourage and support authorities to use UPRNs more widely in their systems, and so to be able to link data for more in-depth analysis and insight.
Children's services offer

Contact: Richard.Cooke@local.gov.uk

The Children’s Services offer was recalibrated to support councils as they respond to challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Children's Improvement Advisors: Children’s Improvement Advisors delivered support and challenge to senior officers and politicians within councils to better support and enable continued service delivery through the pandemic and effective recovery planning. 
  • Remote Peer Diagnostics: This support offer covers range of themes, including social care, early years, SEND and youth justice. 
  • Member development: We supported children’s lead members through the use of digital technology, facilitating regional lead member networks, peer mentoring, themed workshops for individual or groups of councils and development opportunities including Leadership Essentials course (see Leadership Offer above).
  • Online webinars, action learning sets and focus groups: Including a range of online and participative development opportunities to engage with the sector that enabled a shared understanding of challenges and the development of innovative practice and solutions.
  • Bespoke support: Commissioning specific support for council’s to address a range of issues and opportunities and identifying one of LGA’s associates to provide expertise and experience.
Adult social care offer

Contact: adass.lga.covid@local.gov.uk / CHIP@local.gov.uk or your regional CHIA

The Care and Health Improvement Programme (CHIP) was refocused to support councils and the adult social care sector with all support work co-ordinated through a joint ADASS-LGA Adult Social Care Hub. This included:

  • Khub: An online library of all COVID-related adult social care information and support tools together with updates on the CHIP programme to support the COVID response. Email adass.lga.covid@local.gov.uk to register.
  • Daily Updates: On-the-day briefing of all developments and new support tools and publications.
  • Workstreams: Offering support to councils on key response areas including workforce, commissioning and provider support, data collection, PPE, safeguarding and support to people with a learning disability and/or autism
  • National and local data: Analysis of information, including daily sitreps on social care provider returns at local authority level, available online from LG Inform (see above or contact Philippa.Lynch@local.gov.uk)
  • Digital Support Tool: For councils wanting to deploy care technology rapidly.
  • Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator: This programme supports collaborative work between councils to develop digital innovation.
Leading Healthier Places (public health and health and wellbeing)

Contact: sphl@local.gov.uk 

Shaping Places for Healthier Lives aims to create the conditions for better health by funding local partnerships take system-wide action on the wider determinants of health. In 2020/21 the programme offered:

  • Health and Wellbeing Board Reset Tool: Developed to support HWB chairs as they move to the next stage of the COVID-19 Response; including bespoke virtual peer support, developed following the review: HWB Chairs touch base debrief and moving into the next phase of COVID-19
  • Bespoke peer support for Directors of Public Health/teams: Focusing on testing, contact tracing and outbreak management – a flexible peer based offer.
  • HWB Chairs and NHS Non-Executives regional networks: Helping to support and facilitate our existing networks in West Midlands and East Midlands, working with NHS partners
Workforce capacity and support

Contact: workforce@local.gov.uk

The Workforce team provided regular guidance and support on the workforce implications of COVID-19 via on-line regional webinars, forums and networks, which provide opportunities to share good practice examples and other information, such as workforce data. Other sources of support included:

  • LGA Workforce Planning programme: Access to advice and guidance on workforce planning, including support with redeployment practices and other workforce needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Includes access to the LGA Workforce Planning Support Khub group.
  • Return to... programmes: Working with Government departments and national partners to run a series of programmes to help councils sure up resilience, fill vacancies and attract people back to the sector within planning, ICT, legal and social work. The Return to Social Work programme involved access to a platform comprising a talent pool of social workers that councils can access directly.
  • Wellbeing: Access to information and guidance on supporting the workforce, including specific advice on managing staff wellbeing during COVID-19
  • Apprenticeship Support Programme: Involves supporting councils with updates, advice and guidance in response to queries and in offering support to maintain this programme
  • Regular guidance: Covering issues including employment law, NJC Circulars and the Job Retention Scheme.
One Public Estate (OPE) offer

Contact: onepublicestate@local.gov.uk

The OPE Programme continued to provide practical and technical support to councils to deliver property-focused programmes in collaboration with central government and other public sector partners. The support offer includes:

  • Access to regional OPE programme managers: Regional OPE programme managers provided advice and guidance about existing OPE and LRF projects impacted by COVID-19 and on managing existing OPE programmes, including exploring project change requirements. Regional programme managers also provided support for new public estate collaboration opportunities, including development of a pipeline of projects in your locality in anticipation of further funding rounds in the future. This helped councils to consider how further surplus public estate may form part of their recovery and renewal plans.
  • Homes for NHS Staff Toolkit: This toolkit provided detailed technical support and guidance for local authorities working with NHS bodies to improve access to affordable housing for NHS staff where NHS estate owners are disposing of surplus land. The key principles can be applied to other scenarios where there are objectives to improve access to affordable housing for public sector key workers on public sector land.
Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Offer

Contact: PAS@local.gov.uk  

PAS helped councils to plan effectively during the COVID-19 outbreak by offering the following sources of support: 

Climate change support offer

Contact: climate@local.gov.uk

The LGA continued its climate change support programme. The sources of support outlined below will prove especially helpful as councils develop their recovery responses:

In addition, the LGA 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.