Dan Peters 23 March 2020

Councils put at heart of coronavirus response

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Councils will be put at the heart of the response to coronavirus by delivering a national network of support to people at very high risk.

The Government has high expectations of the role that councils will need to play in supporting vulnerable people to get the support they need.

New hubs, which will focus on providing access to food, medicines and other supplies, will provide targeted support after 1.5m people deemed clinically vulnerable were asked to stay at home for three months.

Some 300,000 of the 1.5m may need organised help because they are unable to shop online for food and will have no nearby friends and family to help them.

Whitehall officials want to use councils’ local authorities and expertise, taking advantage of their convening role and statutory footing.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick told council leaders last week it was an ‘extremely important job’.

A Whitehall source said: ‘This is a very significant extension of councils’ social care and wider support for vulnerable people role. It is a massive operation.

'There will be glitches.’

An email seen by The MJ to regional lead chief executives from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government director general, Catherine Frances, read: ‘We recognise that the speed and unprecedented nature of the challenge means that there will be bumps along the way but we are sure that making councils the heart of the response, with your local knowledge and expertise, convening role and statutory footing is the right way to go.’

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