Our sector support offer for councils continues to be shaped through direct engagement with councils to ensure that they have the support they most need to respond to a wide range of challenges and opportunities.
Our Sector Support programme for 2023/24, funded by the UK Government, provides local authorities with vital tools and support to deliver critical services to communities while helping drive change and improvement across all regions. Our governance and finance offers support local authorities to improve performance, governance, and capacity, including through peer support, financial resilience and data-informed decision-making. Our leadership programme attracts and develops new and existing talent, supporting councils to represent and deliver for the communities they serve. We also provide local authorities with comprehensive workforce support to build capability and capacity as well as a new offer of tools and resources to empower councils to achieve their transformation goals.
Local authorities interested in accessing any aspects of this support should contact the LGA principal adviser for their region to find out more (note – this offer is primarily available to English local authorities).
We also offer several wider improvement programmes, including children’s services, Partners in Care and Health (adult social care), cyber, digital and technology, One Public Estate (OPE), planning (PAS), which are also funded by UK Government departments, and culture, tourism and sport, which is funded by Sport England.
Good and effective governance is integral to council performance. Our sector support programme provides varied tools and support through programmes including our peer support, regional support programme and research and data offers. Further support is available through our civility in public life programme, and in 2023/24 we will launch an even wider range of governance support, including a new local government assurance framework.
Peer Challenge Programme
Our highly valued peer challenge programme supports continuous improvement by providing effective insight, guidance and challenge to enable continuous improvement, as well as assurance to local leaders and residents. This offer is delivered by expert councillor and officer peers and supported by our experienced regional support teams. It includes:
- Corporate Peer Challenges (CPCs), which provide a focused look across the key building blocks of what makes a good council, including: local priorities and outcomes, governance, organisational and place leadership, financial planning and management and capacity for improvement
- Finance Peer Challenges, which provide a focused look at financial planning, management and capacity for improvement, with support from specialist peers
- Governance Peer Challenges, which provide a focused look at governance and leadership, with support from specialist peers.
Post-election support (including change of control)
Our post-election support offer is available to all councils, featuring targeted support to councils that experience a change of control or leadership. Support is provided by regional support teams and our expert peers to help smooth political transitions and ensure that members and officers have access to resources and support they need to deliver effectively in their roles. This offer includes:
- bespoke support and advice tailored to councillor and officer support needs across areas, including governance, organisational leadership and more
- mentoring by expert peers, providing councillors and officers support to carry out their roles
- top team development available for senior political leadership teams to enhance decision-making and leadership capacity
- officer and / or councillor development sessions on topics including chairing skills and scrutiny as well as induction events for new members
- mediation to address challenges in relationships between senior councillors and / or officers
- our Changes in political leadership hub, which links to the complete range of post local election tools and support available.
Regional support programme
Our regional support programme utilises expert peers and regional support teams to provide councils with a suite of options, including tailored and bespoke offers, including:
- councillor and officer peer support to build greater resilience and managerial capacity
- mentoring by expert peers, providing councillors and officers with support to carry out their roles
- support to councils to address severe performance and / or financial issues, including guidance and direct support
- advice and assurance regarding organisational leadership, governance and risk management
- mediation to support relationships between senior councillors and / or officers
- top team development available for senior political leadership teams to enhance decision-making and leadership capacity
- political awareness support for officers including monitoring officers
- bespoke finance support, including access to finance associates
- councillor and / or officer development sessions
- access to networks and wider knowledge-sharing opportunities.
Guidance to support good governance
We will produce and share new practical guidance and online resources informed by engagement with the sector. Guidance will include:
- top tips for chief executives
- ten questions for audit committees to ask
- good governance in combined authorities
- further topics informed by research and engagement with the sector and partners.
Civility in public life
There are growing concerns about the impact of increasing public intimidation and toxicity of debate on our country's democratic processes at a local level. We provide councils with a support to address these issues, including:
- support to councils and councillors to embed good standards of behaviour
- support to handle issues of abuse and intimidation
- events on key aspects of civility in public life, including online safety and personal safety.
Improvement and Assurance Framework for Local Government
In partnership with the sector and professional bodies, we are undertaking research to map the different elements which currently provide assurance of the performance of local government, in the interests of clarity and transparency and to help the understanding of how they all fit together. A series of events will follow to support councils in understanding the necessary checks and balances for the sector.
Support for overview and scrutiny
We offer councils further governance support through our partnership with the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS), which supports councils in delivering improvements across their overview and scrutiny functions. Support provided through CfGS offers access to tools and resources across areas such as cultural and behavioural factors relating to good governance and wider corporate health. This includes:
- development of regional scrutiny networks for all regions
- direct and bespoke support to councils facing enhanced challenges
- publications responding to sector needs
- a virtual events programme on topics relevant to those involved in scrutiny.
LG Inform – data benchmarking platform
LG Inform is our award-winning data platform, which uniquely integrates thousands of local-level data items in a single system for benchmarking and is available free for all local authorities. LG Inform allows local authorities and residents to compare performance against other authorities, including Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) 'nearest neighbours'. LG Inform delivers data for informed decision-making by providing comparative data and themed data reports in response to live issues (for example, settlement of refugees in England, homelessness, health and education) and relevant to a wide range of service areas, including children’s and adults’ services. Further reports will be added throughout the year.
Improvement data skills and capability
Further tools and opportunities are available to support local authorities to develop and hone data skills and capability. This offer includes:
- performance management support, including councillor training courses, the launch of an e-learning module for councillors, and performance management panels to bring together performance managers to share learning and provide support to co-ordinate the sector’s input into and use of data in the Office for Local Government (Oflog)
- an updated data maturity tool to assist councils in rating their data management skills
- new Office for National Statistics (ONS) Data Science Campus e-learning training on advanced data skills, for officers.
Our leadership offer supports councils to attract new talent and develop greater skills and capability to deliver impact and change. The programmes reflect and respond to the strategic issues facing local government – supporting councillors and officers to build the knowledge and experience needed to deliver the outcomes that their communities deserve.
Attracting new talent
Our attracting new talent programmes identifies and support talented, new and diverse councillors and officers, through programmes including:
- the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) which supports councils to build capacity by placing an annual cohort of high calibre graduates within local authorities each year, helping councils to meet strategic goals and building a pipeline of future talent
- our 'Be a Councillor' campaign which promotes the role of councillor to a greater diversity of candidates and highlights what help is available (including a new guide for disabled candidates) to make a maximum impact in local government.
We will also be launching a new flagship recruitment campaign, co-produced with Solace and the sector, to attract new talent and increase capacity in the sector. This recruitment campaign will market local government as a career of choice, highlighting the infinite variety of roles that local government has to offer.
Officer leadership programme
Working in partnership with SOLACE, we offer bespoke development programmes, advice and training to officers to increase skills, improve capacity and help develop and enable local leaders to deliver positive change for residents and partners. This includes:
- the IGNITE programme, which provides a bespoke leadership programme for established local government chief executives. IGNITE offers chief executives the opportunity to work through their individual and system leadership challenges together to further develop their understanding of their roles
- the Total Leadership programme, which is aimed at senior-level executives preparing to step into their first role as chief executives in the next few years
- the Springboard development programme, which is designed for middle managers as future leaders who have been recognised as rising stars of local government
- the AMPlify programme for talented rising stars from under-represented groups, who are on the cusp of senior management – AMPlify aims to increase the talent pipeline to more senior roles, diversity of council staff to better reflect their communities, and improving the capacity of leadership teams within the sector.
The programme will also feature a new package for council chief executives, including a curriculum setting out the key knowledge, skills and behaviours for leadership excellence. Designed with direct input from chief executives, this support offer will support chief executives from day one of their appointment and beyond, covering the building blocks of running a council well – from their role as head of paid service, statutory responsibilities, governance and working as a chief executive in a political environment.
Political leadership training and development
Whether councillors are new in post, or experienced and looking to develop critical leadership skills, this extensive programme offers comprehensive development opportunities for all councillors to deliver more effective outcomes for communities and progress their careers. It includes:
- a political leadership training offer to support councils to build greater leadership capacity and develop local politicians – this covers our flagship leadership offers to councillors, including face-to-face training opportunities such as Leadership Essentials, Next Generation and Leadership Academy
- a refreshed online learning platform for all new and returning councillors, including e-learning modules and workbooks
- a new resource pack and workshop programme for councils to use the newly refreshed Local Leadership Framework for Councillors
- leadership development networking events, including for underrepresented groups
- a coaching programme for councillors, providing one-to-one leadership support (for more information on general coaching support please email [email protected] or email [email protected] for more information on our coaching offer for disabled councillors)
- a focused Leadership Development Programme for disabled councillors
- the development of a new Disability Champions Network to provide shared learning opportunities and support.
Effective financial leadership and sustainable financial management, underpinned by timely and comprehensive audit and scrutiny, are integral to councils' success and overall resilience. Our support offer includes financial resilience support and wider resources to ensure improvements across these areas.
Financial resilience programme
Our financial resilience programme supports councils to build skills and identify issues to promote good financial management and respond to financial challenges and opportunities as they arise. We continue to receive excellent feedback for this programme, which is supported by regional support teams. This support includes:
- targeted financial support to councils facing significant financial challenges, including councils receiving exceptional finance support from central Government
- a programme of financial governance training open to councillors and officers, providing support on how to monitor financial outcomes
- a finance induction event open to all newly elected councillors after local elections in May 2023
- Leadership Essentials programme for finance portfolio holders, audit chairs and wider cabinet members (for more information email [email protected])
- a ‘Future for local government finance’ event for the current cohort on the National Graduate Development Programme and alumni
- facilitation of regional forums for audit committee chairs to help identify systemic audit issues and support councils to improve the timeliness of the completion of external audits (for more information email [email protected])
- a Chief Financial Officer Mentoring Scheme, with a focus on providing support to newly appointed officers (for more information email [email protected]).
Guidance and resources
We will also be producing a series of research projects and guidance informed by direct consultation with the sector. This offer will include:
- ‘must know’ guides for senior leaders, including chief executives
- a strategic guide for councils on dealing with financial uncertainty, including impacts of inflationary pressures
- a new research project investigating the lessons learned on the finances of combined authorities, including a report summarising these lessons.
Challenges surrounding the capacity and capability of the local government workforce are felt across the sector. Our workforce offer provides comprehensive support to councils that recognises and responds to significant needs of the local government workforce alongside management of national pay negotiations.
Skills shortages and apprenticeship support
We support local authorities to target skill shortage areas as well as providing apprenticeship support to help councils recruit school leavers and career changers and make use of the apprenticeship levy. This offer includes:
- facilitation of collaborative working among local authorities to support workforce planning in their area
- support to councils to develop Skill Pathway plans, including identifying solutions to local issues
- a series of Apprenticeship Pathway support events that support councils through the key aspects of managing an apprenticeship programme
- apprenticeship health checks and reports for councils to assess how they perform in relation to the Apprenticeships Maturity Model.
Targeted workforce support
Targeted workforce support is also available to address specific and complex workforce challenges based on individual need. This type of support can include:
- bespoke support tailored to the needs and circumstances of individual authorities
- advice on local government reorganisation and workforce restructure, including at senior levels
- support on creating effective organisational structures, including a complete organisation review of a service area
- training and support on job evaluation and reward management.
HR and employment law support
Expert HR and employment law support is also available, including:
- specialist HR and employment law advice
- provision of key workforce and employment relationships information, including e-bulletins – our Employment Law Advisory Bulletin and Workforce Bulletin
- an HR network for combined authorities, providing opportunities to share learning and good practice relating to capacity and other workforce challenges.
National collective bargaining
In addition to the above, the LGA acts as the secretariat and officer function for National Employers in the various collective bargaining units within the local government and associated workforces. We progress negotiations covering the pay and core terms and conditions covering over 1.9 million local government workers as well as conducting national industrial relations engagement for chief officers, chief executives, teachers and an array of other collectively bargained groups.
Our new Transformation programme, currently under development, is being informed by direct engagement with the sector. This offer will provide a range of tools and resources to support councils to achieve their transformation goals, deliver efficiencies and drive continuous improvement across a range of service areas.
Transformation Experts Programme
A new Transformation Experts Programme will be launched in July 2023. This will provide councils with targeted capacity, support and guidance to help deliver on transformation objectives by growing a cohort of experienced, skilled and qualified experts from those councils who are further along in their transformation activities.
Transformation learning and skills programme
Our new transformation learning and skills programme will offer development opportunities including masterclasses, action learning sets and transformation panels, to support councils in achieving their transformation priorities.
It will also involve development of a new transformation capability framework to support councils in identifying what works well and ‘what good looks like’ across different council types. This offer will support councils to understand what is needed to deliver transformation for example skills, roles, training, qualifications and capacity.
Local Partnerships transformation support
Our partner organisation, Local Partnerships, will continue to support councils to deliver their transformation goals. This year’s programme will feature:
- bespoke support and advice to groups of councils who want to establish or expand shared service arrangements to enabling greater efficiencies
- practical guidance for implementation of transformation programmes in different types of councils
- wider transformation resources and support, including development of transformation skills, governance and processes, designed in consultation with the sector.