The Cabinet considered a joint report of the Chief Executive, Director of Corporate Resources and Director of Public Health regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and work being undertaken by the County Council and its partners to respond to this. A copy of this report and two supplementary reports, circulated separately, marked ‘Agenda Item 4’, are filed with these minutes.
Having noted the original report, the Cabinet considered the supplementary reports -
Supplementary Report (a) Coronavirus (Covid-19) Impact and Response of the County Council
The Cabinet considered a joint report of the Chief Executive and Service Directors which advised of the work being undertaken within the County Council and with partners to address the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) within the County.
Members noted comments of Dr. T. Eynon CC on behalf of the Labour Group, a copy of which is filed with these minutes.
In introducing the report the officers informed Members that the number of cases of Covid-19 in Leicestershire had decreased and plateaued, and was below the East Midlands and national averages, but in line with other East Midlands’ counties; seven of the Council’s Recycling and Household Waste Sites had re-opened and had generally operated well; the situation regarding the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) had eased, and the Council had a clear understanding of the needs of care homes and other domiciliary providers. Care homes would be prioritised for testing, especially those where staff were isolating. Recovery work would include a review of ways of working and optimising use of digital technology in line with the Council’s environmental commitments.
Mr. Rushton CC commended Labour and Liberal Democrat members for supporting the establishment of a cross-party working group on recovery.
With the permission of the Chairman, Dr. Eynon CC asked whether he, as Leader of the Council, would issue a statement similar to that of the Leicester City Mayor with regard to schools reopening. The Chairman referred the matter to Mr. Ould, who said that he was content for schools in the County to use their own judgement as to when it was safe to open and the Council would continue to support them as needed.
Mr. Pendleton CC noted that a report on school transport arrangements would be considered by the Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting in September.
(a) That the actions taken to date in response to COVID-19 be noted;
(b) That thanks be conveyed to the Sichuan Provincial People's Government for its donation of 20,000 face masks;
(c) That the work that has commenced on recovery be noted and the establishment of the cross-party member working group with the terms of reference as set out in Appendix B to the report be approved.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
To note the current position on the response to the coronavirus pandemic and to agree the establishment of a cross-party member working group to provide high-level direction and political perspective to the County Council’s Recovery Plans.
Supplementary Report (b) Coronavirus (Covid-19) Financial Implications
The Cabinet considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources regarding the expected financial implications of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and the measures being put in place to monitor and minimise the impact.
In introducing the report, the Director said that as well as the additional costs incurred, the Council would suffer badly from the predicted loss of income from Business Rates and Council Tax. He highlighted the increased costs related to meeting demand for Special Education Needs and Disabilities and highlighted the comprehensive package of support provided by the County Council to care homes. A report would be presented to the Cabinet at its meeting in September with further details of the financial implications of the pandemic.
Mr. Rhodes CC echoed the comments made by the Director regarding the gravity of the financial situation and added that additional funding was needed from the Government to cover the increased costs associated with Covid-19. He added that the letter referred to in recommendation (c) had been sent to Members of Parliament seeking their support.
(a) That the increasingly serious financial position facing the County Council and the measures in place to monitor and minimise the impact be noted;
(b) That the district councils, as collection authorities, be asked to provide the County Council as soon as possible with accurate, updated council tax collection figures;
(c) That the County Council’s financial position be drawn to the attention of Members of Parliament with a request that they advocate with Ministers the measures set out in this report to ensure the stability of the County Council and its ability to provide front line services, whilst noting that the ongoing pressures on the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities budget exacerbate the financial concerns;
(d) That the support given to providers of adult social care and that further support will be provided, as set out in the report, be noted.
REASONS FOR DECISION:
To note the Council’s financial position, both in the short and medium term, which will inform decisions on future service delivery and discussions with Cabinet Members and MPs in securing monetary resources to safeguard the ongoing financial viability of the County Council, and local government in general.