Heather Jameson 19 May 2021

COVID crisis exposed council underfunding, says watchdog

COVID crisis exposed council underfunding, says watchdog image

The COVID crisis exposed existing weaknesses in public services, including the underfunding of local government and the neglect of social care, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.

In its latest report on the response to the pandemic, watchdog has warned local government finances – which were already underfunded – had been ‘scarred by the pandemic and will not bounce back quickly once the pandemic ends’.

It suggests the Government had failed to properly prepare for a pandemic, leaving ministers without a ‘playbook’.

In his introduction, comptroller and auditor general Gareth Davies said the pandemic had ‘laid bare existing fault lines within society, such as the risk of widening inequalities, and within public service delivery and government itself’.

He added: ‘The relationship between adult social care and the NHS, workforce shortages, the challenges posed by legacy data and IT systems, and the financial pressure felt by parts of the system all require long-term solutions.’

The report, based on 17 separate reports on the COVID response so far, estimated that the government spent an extra £372bn on the crisis to the end of March, taking in the full lifetime of all policies. Of that figure, £11bn went to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

It calls for the government to put the NHS and local government ‘on a sustainable footing, to improve their ability to respond to future emergencies’.

The watchdog suggested the lack of integration between health and social care ‘has been challenging for decades, leading to a better response to the pandemic for health services than for care, with health trusts receiving 80% of their requirements for protective equipment compared with 10% for care providers.

The response to the crisis was also hampered by gaps in data, the report said, with the Government taking three weeks to identify clinically vulnerable people who needed to shield due to the challenges of using different data from NHS and GP systems.

The report also called for ‘effective coordination and communication between government departments, central government and local government, and private and public sector bodies’.

Photo: John David Photography / Shutterstock.com

Overcoming the barriers to Commercial Card use image

Overcoming the barriers to Commercial Card use

Want to reap the benefits of Commercial Cards but coming up against some challenges? James Sykes, Head of Commercial Cards, Lloyds Bank and David Legg, Head of Corporate Card Products, Lloyds Bank, discuss how the payments industry is helping organisations unlock their true value.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Local Highway Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£22,183 - £32,234
The Local Highway Officer role is based in the Highway Service. Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Director of Children & Families

North Lincolnshire Council
£108,500
We are looking for an effective, resilient Director of Children & Families. North Lincolnshire
Recuriter: North Lincolnshire Council

Strategy & Commissioning Manager Health, Wellbeing & Self-care

Warwickshire County Council
£70,573.00 - £77,999.00
If you are a dynamic individual, with a strong background in public health and social care strategy and commissioning, we’d like to hear from you! Warwick, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Warwickshire County Council

Environmental Health/Environmental Protection Officer - Noise

Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
£41,607.00 - £44,598.00
This post attracts an essential car user allowance. The post holder is able to take part in the Council's flexible working scheme. Tower Hamlets, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tower Hamlets London Borough Council

Director of Business Development

North Yorkshire County Council
50-60k + relocation allowance
We are looking for a dynamic and innovative person to help us deliver our ambitious new strategic objectives set out in... North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue