NALC Chief Executive's bulletin

Covid19 Job Retention Scheme and furlough fraud

There have been recent headlines about a crackdown on furlough fraud. This tends to focus on employers who have provided inaccurate or false information, or who have then broken furlough rules – in the main by having furloughed staff continue to work. Local (parish and town) councils should be advised to only provide accurate and true information when applying for furlough and to stick within the stated rules of the scheme. If you realise your council has made any errors in your claims it is possible to correct this information with HMRC within given deadlines. You can find out more about this and the requirements for councils who have received funding under this scheme on coronavirus webpage.

Another report on local government reorganisation

Hot on the heels of last week's report on local government reorganisation by the County Councils Network, the District Councils Network has published Power in place: devolution and districts driving our recovery arguing districts, not counties should be the building blocks for devolution. References to local councils include:

  • it is district councillors and local town and parish councillors that maintain the closest link between councils and communities
  • the costs of moving to new county unitary models do not include the large potential costs of growing the role of local town and parish councils
  • county councils advancing unitary arguments have acknowledged this weakness, and in response promise to bolster the role of the thousands of local town and parish councils, but with little detail what will be devolved to them and how. There is a risk that this becomes a token gesture and local councils deserve better, they are crucial partners and should be supported to build on their strengths
  • NALC would encourage all districts to have wide-ranging discussions locally with their county colleagues, with their town and parish councils, with their MPs, with their local businesses, and with the whole range of public services in their place, from health to employment, to housing, to transport.

Toilets Bill completes House of Commons stage

The Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill completed its House of Commons stages on 3 September. The opposition had put forward amendments to widen the scope of the bill to include toilets in other community facilities, exclude fee-charging toilets and provide for an annual report on its impact, these weren't put to the vote. Speakers in the debate included Richard Holden MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on local democracy, who has championed this issue in Parliament, and Duncan Baker MP, both mentioning local councils in their areas. You can read the debate in Hansard or watch onParliamentlive.tv Now off to the House of Lords dates to be announced.

Nominate someone for an honour or award

You can nominate someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the UK, anyone can make a nomination and there is no deadline. For wider contributions to local communities and public life, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has said "that they are especially interested in people who are working or volunteering in their community. They could be working with the homeless or in housing more widely, supporting community integration and interfaith work, or working in local government over an extended period to achieve the council's local ambitions". While these Honours nominations can be accepted at any time, citations will be needed by Monday 21 September if they are to be included in the Birthday 2021 Honours Round. Further details about the process and what you should consider when making a nomination can also be found here

Posted: Fri, 04 Sep 2020 15:31 by Alison Robinson

Tags: COVID19, coronavirus, furlough, job retention scheme, local government reorganisation, toilet tax