LGA Lib Dems: Complaints about council services, PrEP and Broadband

Complaints about council services

The Local Government Ombudsman has published details of the complaints about local council services over the past year. If you are in opposition and your area has a significant level of complaints you may find the following report helpful (council by council breakdown from page 22)

Draft press release below

[OUR COUNCIL] NEEDS TO DO BETTER SAYS LIB DEM COUNCILLOR [NAME]

Lib Dem Councillor [YOUR NAME] has highlighted the number of complaints sent to the Local Government Ombudsman about [YOUR COUNCIL’s] services.

Cllr [YOUR NAME] said: “In the last year the Local Government Ombudsman received [NUMBER] of complaints about [SERVICE AREA]. It’s just not good enough and I will be demanding answers about what steps the council is taking to improve its service”

ENDS

 

PrEP and prevention services

The LGA has achieved a significant milestone on behalf of its membership in the commissioning of prevention services at the Royal Courts of Justice.

The National Aids Trust (NAT), supported by the LGA, was successful at the High Court in challenging NHS England’s decision that it did not have the legal powers to commission the HIV treatment Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, also known as PrEP.

NHS England said the onus fell on councils to fund PrEP, as local authorities are responsible for HIV prevention. The LGA branded this as a “selective and untenable” reading of the Public Health Regulations 2013.

Along with the LGA and NAT, the Association of Directors of Public Health, London Councils, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, British HIV Association, and the Terence Higgins Trust, each made strong representations in response to NHS England’s decision.

The LGA has maintained that the commissioning guidance is clear. Responsibility for anti-retroviral drugs, including PrEP, lies with NHS England and that transferring this to local authorities would have created a new and unfunded burden at a time when public health budgets have already been cut by central government.

During the transition period to the implementation of the NHS and Care Act 2010, NHS England sought to retain the commissioning of HIV therapeutics, which the PrEP treatment clearly fell into.  The LGA has been adamant all along that it should remain an NHS responsibility unless it is fully funded for local authorities to deliver.

In support of the claimant the NAT, the LGA was an interested party in court, having decided to take action on behalf of our member authorities.

Clearly implementing PrEP would have saved the NHS significant costs of having to provide much costlier treatment further down the line.

LGA Lib Dem Group Leader Gerald Vernon Jackson said: “By successfully challenging NHS England’s interpretation of the law, the LGA believes this will provide much needed clarity around the future roles of councils and the NHS on prevention services.

“It also demonstrates that both parties have the joint responsibility of ensuring they can deliver an integrated sexual health system as Parliament originally intended.

“We firmly rejected the argument by the NHS that it should fall to councils. We argued that NHS England was wrong in law and that the power of the NHS England includes commissioning for preventative purposes and this includes HIV related drugs”.

The judgement can be accessed here. https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/court/high-court/

 

Better Broadband

[COUNCILLOR YOUR NAME] fights for faster internet speeds for [YOUR AREA]

Local Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to re-affirm its commitment to a national minimum broadband speed across the country to stop hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses falling into a “digital twilight zone”.

Swift action is now needed after delays to the Digital Economy Bill and the Government’s Digital Strategy caused by Theresa May’s new ministerial postings, which sees Matt Hancock replace Ed Vaizey as Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

It is estimated that the number of households that will be unable to access a 10Mbps (Megabits per second) service by 2017 is likely to be as high as one million, with 100,000 of those in remote rural areas.

Fast and reliable digital connectivity is a necessity for households and businesses in the UK. [YOUR NAME] said “Good internet access is now a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help us all to cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, file tax returns and access their bank accounts. As central and local government services increasingly become ‘digital by default’, more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds.”

Local councils have played a big role in the extension of digital connectivity to households through the Superfast Broadband Programme. Around £740 million of the £1.7 billion invested in this has come from local government spending.[Insert your local council name here is aiming to/councillor your name calls on your council to] beat the Government’s national target of 95 per cent coverage of premises by December 2017 and work to find solutions to extend provision to those in the final five percent.

Local government leaders support the Government’s planned creation of a national minimum broadband speed as part of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband users but we are calling for a safety net for those who are unlikely to be covered by roll out plans.

[YOUR NAME HERE]”The Government also needs to legislate for the USO’s minimum speed to be reviewed at appropriate intervals and upgraded when necessary to ensure that areas are not left behind. The USO specification should define minimum levels of provision for a range of factors, shifting the focus away from headline speeds, which can be misleading, towards other indicators, including upload speed, that provide a more realistic way of determining an internet connection’s quality.”

ENDS.

 

And finally

And finally, here is a little article from one of our newly elected councillors.

 

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