Looking after communities - it's what we do

By John Fuller | 12 April 2020

In seven days flat, district councils have created a comprehensive local support system across the county.

We are collectively taking up to 400,000 calls for help a day and matching them with volunteers in every street. We are dealing with business rates, hardship payments, and we are collecting the bins. By maintaining business as usual, we are giving the Government the breathing space it needs to play its part in the crisis. It's what we do. 

Working collaboratively, we are delivering the final mile. No other part of the public sector is better placed to do this: we stand with all parts of the Government in beating this, one family and one street at a time.

We can do more.  Just as long as the Government remembers we cannot do this on goodwill alone – we need the money to follow.

We are sorting out benefits for those hardest hit. We are keeping a roof over people’s heads and we have taken rough sleepers of the streets. We are channelling billions into small businesses. And we are collecting bins and keeping the streets clean.

And, sadly, as the burial authorities, we will work with the LRF to ensure victims are laid to rest in a dignified manner. 

We have stepped up to support families. Now we will rebuild the national economy one place at a time.

But it's not all plain sailing. We are facing far more calls for assistance than just the shielded group and we have a much bigger task ahead. We can't do this on fresh air alone.

And it’s not just the extra costs – many of our income streams are shot to pieces. Warm words from ministers need to be backed up with commitment and clarity of what can be funded – in writing.

The Prime Minister told us to do what it takes and he would back us. Now we are asking for certainty on what that means. Let’s not turn uncertainty into insolvency.

As we all think about the exit plan we must respond to local government  minister Simon Clarke's challenge to ask us to identify the most promising genuinely shovel-ready projects in our areas that could kick start the economy.

When the eye of the storm passes, we are the ones who will we will dig this country out of a recession by preventing it becoming a depression. We will rebuild better lives and stronger economies together.

Cllr John Fuller OBE is DCN Chairman

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