The LGA and local government again had a high profile across the party conferences this year with over 60 speaking opportunities for members across all of the conferences. This year we hosted a number of events including debates on the Prime Ministers priorities for the coming year, education and Brexit. This year we also teamed up with Huawei hosting three debates on the importance of technology in improving services and delivering efficiencies.
With the conference season now over it is worth looking back at how local government, and the LGA in particular, influenced the respective agendas. Here are some of the highlights:
At the Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid MP highlighted the need to get more homes built, something that the LGA has consistently campaigned on. During the conference measures were announced to get more homes built that included a £3 billion Home Builders Fund, which will enable the building of up to 235,000 homes as well as greater use of Government and public sector land for housebuilding The Prime Minister also re-affirmed the Government's commitment to devolving powers from Whitehall to local communities. She pledged to support the Northern Powerhouse whilst also encouraging other great cities elsewhere in the UK, such as Birmingham, to seize the opportunities offered by devolution. This followed commitments from Mr Javid to continue the work on localism and devolution to local communities.
At the Labour Party conference the Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn MP announced a commitment to remove the artificial local borrowing cap and allow councils to borrow against their housing stock. The LGA has long called for the HRA cap to be removed to allow councils top build more homes.
At the Liberal Democrat conference delegates passed motions calling for the reform of the Bus Service Operators Grant so that it is devolved to local authorities and calling on the central government to work closely with local government to ensure councils have the funding and support they need to help refugees.
At the Green Party and UKIP conferences there was increased recognition of the importance of local government. This included promotion of the role of councillors in our democracy and the need for cultural funding to recognise the role local government plays in promoting the arts as essential parts of a healthy society.