The Government has issued guidance on how the £30m allocated to district and unitary authorities for COVID-19 related compliance and enforcement activities should be spent.
The guidance sets out the types of eligible compliance and enforcement activity which local authorities can choose to use the funding for.
“There is flexibility over how the funding is used, provided it is for the purposes of compliance and enforcement of measures to control the spread of COVID-19,” it says.
“Where appropriate, we would encourage local authorities to consider using this funding for the deployment of COVID-19 secure marshals, or their equivalents, to support compliance.”
The guidance therefore focuses on supporting local authorities who are deploying marshals, wardens, stewards, ambassadors or similar roles to support compliance social distancing in public places.
It stresses that the role of such marshals or equivalents is “not to enforce COVID-19 regulations, or have any enforcement powers, which should remain the remit of the police and designated local authority compliance and enforcement officers”.
COVID-19 secure marshals or equivalents should instead "engage, explain and encourage" best practice and national COVID-19 secure guidance, it adds. They should not:
- enforce social distancing regulations
- issue fixed penalty notices to those breaking COVID-19 regulations
- engage physically with members of the public or attempt to restrain anybody
- take decisions about allowing entry to a venue/ premises/ site
The guidance, which can be viewed here, covers:
- Eligible compliance and enforcement activities.
- COVID-19 secure marshals or equivalents: the role; suggested scope; Type 1 COVID-19 secure marshals or their equivalents; Type 2 COVID-19 secure marshals or their equivalents; training; administrative support; activity out of scope; implementation considerations; risk and equalities assessments; case studies covering Charnwood Borough Council, Blackpool, Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum, Northampton Borough Council.
- Reporting and metrics.
- Other relevant information.
A further £30m is being handed to police forces only for use in relation to coronavirus enforcement.
The Government said this money would enable police to increase patrols in town centres, and allow them to provide more support to local authorities and NHS Test & Trace to enforce self-isolation requirements.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The vast majority of the British public has come together, followed the law and helped prevent the spread of this virus.
“But we’ve been clear that, with infections rising, we will not allow a small minority of people to reverse our hard-won progress.
“This extra funding will strengthen the police’s role in enforcing the law and make sure that those who jeopardise public health face the consequences.”
Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Since the start of the pandemic people and businesses across the country have pulled together and followed the latest guidelines – this will be more important than ever as we head into the winter.
“That’s why we are giving councils a further £30m in new funding to support their work on compliance and enforcement in their communities.
“Councils play a crucial role in protecting people’s safety, supporting businesses and helping the public to better understand the guidance. This new funding will ensure they can step this up further and continue to act proactively.”
Full details of the allocations to local authorities can be found on GOV.UK.
Responding to the funding announcement, Cllr Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Rising infection rates are a stark reminder of the need for all of us to follow the COVID-19 rules. It is good that Government has recognised the pressures on council enforcement officers and will provide additional funding for councils to support the enforcement of COVID-19 laws.
“It is also helpful that councils will have the flexibility to determine how best to use the money, as the LGA had called for, so they can decide on the best approach for their areas.
“The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing pressures on councils’ regulatory services, which in many places are now at tipping point. As local authorities continue to lead local work to tackle COVID-19, the Government needs to use the Spending Review to ensure councils have enough funding to maintain vital trading standards and environmental health services over the next six months and beyond.”
Cllr Dan Humphreys, District Councils’ Network lead member for enhancing quality of life, said: “We are pleased the Government has announced additional funding for councils to help ensure people and businesses comply with coronavirus rules.
“The announcement recognises the key role of districts in shaping the places in which we all live, work and play, such as in revitalising high-streets, in licensing cafes, pubs and restaurants, and in creating safe spaces and places through our local environmental health teams.
“With local government on the frontline fighting this crisis, this has shown once again that local often works best. Districts continue to deliver for our partners, businesses and the community, working together to beat this virus and help the country bounce back.”