At a time of huge political turmoil nationally, it is important that local government keeps a cool head. The LGA previously summarised all the Government’s "No Deal" papers and prioritised the most relevant for councils. This is a useful tool to use when thinking about local planning for Brexit. Councils are using this to carry out local assessments of risks and opportunities.
Thanks to Vice Presidents working with us
This week, I was able to personally thank our Vice Presidents, including Independent Crossbench and Plaid Cymru Lords, meeting just before their debate on the budget, part of which I attended. President Lord Kerslake spoke up for local government on our behalf in the debate.
Lord Bishop of St Alban’s has been working with us to create a maximum bet on fixed betting stakes of £2 a shot. We well recognise the impact of too easy excessive gambling on individuals and their families. This week we had success in that the Government’s initial delay has been reversed and the reduction in maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals will now come into force in April next year.
Lord Best and Lord Porter are working with us on housing, including removal of the borrowing cap, now agreed. We also need to bring the “right to buy” and level of discount, back to council choice, and the money from house sales to be kept by the council that owns the houses. Children’s services in the community and the impact of going through the courts are also issues we will be working on more together with our Vice Presidents, especially with the Earl of Listowel. We work next on the Spending Review which will impact our Council budgets next year.
The Borough First
I attended both London and then Maidenhead (the PM's patch) this week for Be A Councillor events. I was greatly impressed listening to the diversity of substantial skills and talent in a full hall of lively and interested people, wanting to support the movement for local council improvements. This is being replicated across the country in a remarkable drive for a more inclusive democracy.
Adult social care in the long term
he responses to our LGA Green Paper on how to fund adult care in the long term were revealed this week at the National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) Conference in Manchester. Response was excellent and we make fourteen recommendations to Government. 15,500 people went to the particular pages on the website and 549 people gave a formal response, so thank you if you were one of them!
There was overwhelming support for the importance of caring for adults who need it. We are £3.56 billion short by 2024/2025, without extending the service. More than half of people, 56 per cent, thought the best way to pay for adult social care in the long term was to slightly increase national insurance, which raises more than enough. Just under half of people agreed with paying a 1 per cent increase in tax, both these only as long as the money did not get lost in the general pot. Third choice was making all benefits means tested, but also a lots of concerns raised around this.
The current English threshold of assets before you pay for your own care is £23,500. Only one fifth thought this was fair, and most thought it should be over £100,000. Setting charges at zero so no-one pays or putting a cap on the total amount paid would be very expensive.
Of the £20.5 billion already promised to the NHS, the most popular option on its spend was for prevention, primary care and community health services to help people to stay healthy and independent. We also call for the £600 million cuts to public health to be reversed.
We are also calling for powers to encourage the NHS to work closely with the Health and Wellbeing Boards in all areas, focusing on serving both the community and public spending as a whole.
Other reports published this week at NCAS include:
- Brighter Futures: one year on and
- Shifting the centre of gravity: making place-based, person-centred health and care a reality
It has been very good to see so many of you recently out in the regions and conferences this past month. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at what promises to be an excellent annual meeting on Friday 23 November from 10.30am at the LGA.
Good luck and best wishes for success in all you are doing for our communities. Thank you.
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association