The report sets out an overview of the impact of Covid-19 on South Kesteven District Council and various services and approaches. It also highlights ongoing issues and identifies key lessons learnt to date from Covid-19.
A report was presented to the Committee by the Assistant Chief Executive, that set out South Kesteven District Council’s response to the global pandemic such as measures taken to reduce the potential for transmission of the virus as well as an explanation of the key lessons learnt to date.
The Assistant Chief Executive informed the Committee that 3 priorities were set out by the Council at the start of the pandemic:
· To protect the health of staff and residents
· To maintain critical services
· To support local businesses
The report also covered the financial impact, such as income loss through car parks not used in lockdowns and the impact of delivery of savings as staff were redeployed to support in critical services. Additional costs were incurred in personal protective equipment. It was explained that income from Government grants mitigated some of the losses such as the income protection grant.
Lessons learnt included the value of the Council’s role in enabling the community voluntary sector to support the local community through its vital work during the pandemic. As a result of these findings, risk modelling was undertaken to ensure the Council was even better prepared for the future.
The Assistant Chief Executive wanted to ensure that everyone involved in supporting local residents during the pandemic was formally thanked by the Committee, including the communities within the voluntary sector that stepped in to help.
During discussion, the following points were raised by Members:
· A Member described the report as very thorough and interesting. Appendix 1 contained clear information. The lessons learnt were clearly set out and very reflective. How were the lessons learnt put into practice?
· A Member noted that the pandemic highlighted the Council could play a greater role in community leadership and felt this could have been considered prior to the pandemic.
· Tribute was made to the cross party work being undertaken in respect of mental health and the impact that Covid-19 had, particularly on children’s mental health.
· The financial impact was also highlighted and the cost to the Council after receiving Government grants. What was the cost of ‘usual’ Government funding for the Council pre-pandemic.
The Assistant Chief Executive confirmed that a number of lessons learnt have been incorporated into the continuing review process. For example, the business continuity plan has been regularly reviewed and updated and was part of Service Plans activity. The Overview and Scrutiny Committees have covered different elements as relevant and this was also reflected within performance management.
The Assistant Director of Finance stated that the full cost of Covid-19 to the Council could not be specifically calculated as budgets were volatile and prone to change. He referred to the various factors that had to be taken into consideration and stated that there was not always a clear correlation between services and financial losses. It was emphasised that the full impact of the pandemic was yet to be measured but a table included in the report provided a financial overview.
The Chairman thanked the Officers for a comprehensive report and referred to how the transformation and savings could be actioned going forward and the delivery mechanisms. He again thanked the Assistant Chief Executive for his contribution to the Committee over the years that he had been at South Kesteven.
a) That the Committee noted the impact of Covid-19 and related restrictions on SKDC services and the ongoing changes to the service delivery landscape for the district.
b) That the Committee endorsed the key lessons learnt from Covid-19 and asked the Chief Executive to ensure that these were embedded in the future operations of the Council.
c) That the Committee thanked all those involved in the response and recovery from Covid-19, with particular thanks to communities and the voluntary sector who had played a vital role in supporting the most vulnerable during the pandemic.