Statement from Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council

Minister is right to praise local government staff

Everyone who works in local government across East Sussex has been part of a heroic effort over recent weeks – bringing support and comfort to people when they need it most.

On some residents and keyworkers, coronavirus has laid the heaviest cost of all – and this will never be forgotten. It has damaged our county in many ways: our health, livelihoods, our sense of security.

Where this damage can be eased and repaired, it’s staff in local authorities who are leading the way. Every day they are arranging care, medical support, food, financial help, advice, childcare and a host of other support services for the people of East Sussex.

This is why Robert Jenrick (the Secretary of State for local government) described local government workers as ‘unsung heroes’ in his letter which thanks them for what they are doing.

I couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s staff in parishes, districts and boroughs, or at the county council, the local government family has worked tirelessly and together and I’d like to say how grateful I am to them all. Leaders of all the political groups at the county council have joined me in expressing their thanks.
Here are just a few examples of the work going on in East Sussex:

  • Community hubs have responded to 2,500 requests for urgent help or advice.
  • Around 1,700 deliveries of food in a fortnight to homes of people with serious medical conditions (in addition to the national operation).
  • More than 5,000 requests for emergency grants or rate relief from businesses across East Sussex with more than £60m already allocated to help.
  • Schools, nurseries and childminders providing care for up to 1,300 children who are vulnerable or whose parents are keyworkers.
  • Hundreds of tonnes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distributed among carers.
  • Work underway on an economic recovery plan for East Sussex.

And this is on top of all the ‘everyday’ work that councils are still doing: keeping vulnerable people safe, collecting household refuse, providing housing, maintaining parks and roads and a hundred other tasks. It really is a monumental effort: thank you to all local government staff and to their families who support them to enable this essential work.

The government has approved another £1.6 billion to fund the extra efforts councils are making and ensure those efforts can continue. It’s a very welcome recognition of how much this work matters.

But money alone doesn’t do it: the skill and the hard work of local government workers are also essential ingredients in these uncertain times. They will be just as vital when East Sussex can begin to recover and thrive again.

Keith Glazier
20 April 2020