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Local Government Responsibilities: Public Services

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:00 pm, 18th March 2020

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for that point. Let me reassure her. We understand the point about social care providers and PPE. I think 7 million—I quote from memory—face masks are being made available to careworkers. At least 300 masks will be provided to care homes or care home providers to ensure that this necessary and essential piece of kit is available to them. If for whatever reason the normal supplier is unable to provide the kit, the national supply disruption response number is a way for providers to find other suppliers or receive an emergency parachute drop of those masks. I should also say that, although we would ordinarily expect those sorts of workers to have things such as aprons and gloves, we will do whatever we can to ensure that whatever they need is available. We are working with local authorities and care providers to make sure that those PPE pieces of kit are available.

We have also asked GPs to look at the possibilities of offering digital appointments to provide advice and guidance to patients and potentially to their families. I am confident that we are making every effort to provide for those eventualities.

A number of Members raised the 2020-21 settlement. I hope that we have demonstrated clearly to all Members that we are doing everything possible to give local government the right support and the right resources to respond to this unprecedented crisis. Of course, local authorities have already been put on a strong footing by the outcome of the settlement for next year. The settlement, which I am pleased that the House supported just a few weeks ago, responds to the pressures that councils are facing by providing them with access to the largest increase in core spending power since 2015. CSP will rise from £46.2 billion to £49.1 billion in 2020-21. That is an estimated 4.4% real-terms increase—well above the rate of inflation. In 2020-21, the final settlement makes £1.5 billion of new funding available for adult and children’s social care. That will support local authorities to meet rising demand and recognises the vital role that social care plays in supporting the most vulnerable in our society.

In conclusion, the role of local government in delivering social care and other vital public services has never been more important than it is now and will be in the days and weeks ahead. Through our immediate actions in response to this crisis and the broader work this Government are doing to help local authorities, I am confident that we are giving councils everything they need to deliver the services upon which we and our communities rely. We remain steadfast in our commitment to do whatever it takes to help communities to beat covid-19, safe in the knowledge that, together, we will rise to these challenges. Together we must, and we will, succeed.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the statutory and broader local government responsibilities for public services, including social care.