What a year!
The MJ reflects on another year in local government, significantly influenced by the pandemic that continues to cause havoc heading into 2021. And there’s a reassuring symmetry to the way the year is ending. Martin Ford and Ann McGauran report.
Boost to local test and trace funding
The increase of up to £200m per month follows criticism from the National Audit Office.
Flood funding for councils may not be enough, watchdog finds
The Government is unable to prove councils have enough funding for flood defences, a spending watchdog has discovered.
EXCLUSIVE: Nine regional chiefs deliver Whitehall ultimatum
An ultimatum has been delivered by the nine regional chief executives working closely with the Government on the sector’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, The MJ has learnt.
Future Forum: Spending chief highlights 'amazing financial pressure' on councils
The head of the National Audit Office (NAO) today highlighted the ‘amazing financial pressure’ councils are under in delivering existing services and new COVID-related demands.
Before reorganisation we need a clear view of the sector's core purpose
How local government 'can sensibly be reorganised without a clear view of its core purpose (will adult social care services be in or out?) or funding mechanisms' is baffling Abdool Kara.
NAO hits out at late accounts
A rise in late auditing of local government accounts has come under fire from the National Audit Office which it says is affecting the quality of Treasury public sector accounting.
Ministers deny Town's fund cronyism
Ministers have denied allegations that they favoured Conservative areas when they distributed money under the Town's Fund.
Let's think carefully about the best scale for delivering public services
We have seen a lack of sophisticated thinking by Government about the level at which COVID-19 initiatives were delivered, says Abdool Kara - and it looks like this may be a key theme in the NAO's ongoing coronavirus-related work programme.
Let’s not paper over the cracks
Nathan Elvery examines the impact of spending cuts on councils and communities over a decade and highlights that they are dealing with COVID-19 while balanced on a precarious cliff edge.
Cost of Universal Credit set to soar, says watchdog
The cost of running Universal Credit is likely to be more expensive than the systems it replaces, is placing a huge burden on staff administering it and has the highest rate of overpayments for any benefit other than tax credits according to a National Audit Office report.
The care home sector 'entered the pandemic on the back foot'
The suggestion that a 'protective ring' was cast around care homes is difficult to swallow, writes Rob Whiteman. The sector was 'certainly not given the tools to cope with any kind of financial shock ahead of time', he adds.
Making a bigger impact on value for money
COVID-19 may have had an impact on the work programme, but boss of the National Audit Office Gareth Davies says he is ‘determined’ the scrutiny body will have more of an influence on value for money. Dan Peters reports.
Fresh reorganisation offensive leaves districts quaking
The County Councils’ Network (CCN) has launched a fresh offensive to rip up the local government map as the country emerges from the shadow of coronavirus.
Government's national approach criticised by top auditor
A top auditor has heavily criticised the Government’s ‘national approach’ to the coronavirus response.
Health chiefs deny care home 'recklessness'
Health chiefs have rejected allegations that discharging elderly NHS patients into care homes at the height of the pandemic in April was ‘reckless.’
Building on the vital relationship between health and care
The annual ADASS budget survey show the serious impact coronavirus has had, says Cllr James Jamieson. The Local Government Association is 'continuing to call for a long-term, sustainable funding solution beyond the pandemic', he adds.
Managing the smooth expiry of PFI contracts
Rosie Pearson says the end of a PFI contract may seem a long way off, but contract expiry should be considered at an early stage to ensure that it can be a success.
Infrastructure could be left in a worse condition when PFI ends, watchdog warns
Many local authorities have underestimated the time, resources and complexity involved in managing the end of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contracts, the public spending watchdog has warned today.
It makes good sense to diversify income
Some of the commentary on commerciality implies councils are going into these investments recklessly, and that is simply not the case, says Simone Hines. Continuing to be creative and innovative with council finances is going to be vital, she adds.