Council leaders know that radical change in the way local services are funded and organised will be necessary if we are to live within the nation's means over the rest of this decade.
Councils' championing of Community Budgets has become a key part of this story and the case for them to be rolled out across the country becomes ever more overwhelming. Last month the LGA, on behalf of the four pilot areas, hired accountancy experts Ernst & Young to develop a fully costed case for whole place Community Budgets, based upon evidence from the pilots. This financial analysis is intended to help persuade the Treasury that Community Budgets are essential if places are to maintain services in the face of budget cuts of 28 per cent in the current spending review and more expected in the future. It is a vital piece of work that we can use to hammer home the financial benefits to central government and national politicians.
Continuing on the theme of devolving power from Whitehall, I recently wrote to Cities Minister Greg Clark to say that I and council leaders have been very encouraged by the first city deals to be announced. The LGA are very keen to help develop the next phase of this exciting work and I have met with the Minister to discuss how the deals can be extended to support the ambition for economic growth in our smaller cities, in our counties and in the sector as a whole.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the Localism programme team at email@example.com.
Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell
Chairman, Local Government Association
The Local Government Association and four whole place community pilots have hired accountancy experts Ernst & Young to support the whole place Community Budgets and develop a common financial analysis in order to ensure that their findings can be sealed up to inform any case for national implementation of the Community Budgets model.
The LGA and the four pilot areas have agreed with the Treasury to form a cross-departmental group in Whitehall to provide a quality assurance of the costings and assumptions being used in the pilot areas.
The four whole place areas are Essex, Cheshire West and Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and the Tri-boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster. The pilots are expected to focus on a range of themes, including crime, early intervention and supporting families.
In a letter to ministers, council leaders have made renewed calls for 'City deals' to be rolled out nationally as ‘Local growth deals', to boost flagging economies.
Sir Merrick Cockell has echoed this recommendation through a letter and a meeting with the Cities Minister Greg Clark. The LGA has called for deals across a wider range of authorities in order to support economic growth in smaller cities, counties and in the sector as a whole. In both the letter and the meeting the LGA expressed an interest in working with the Cities Unit to explore how further progress could be made.
Council chiefs reaffirmed this viewpoint during the May meeting of the LGA Executive and are keen to work with the Government to push the agenda forward. They also raised concerns about the bureaucracy currently required to approve City deals – and have called for red tape to be stripped out from the process.
As part of the Independent Local Government campaign, the LGA and the Chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee (PCRC) Graham Allen MP are continuing to hold events to speak with councillors around the country. Further events are planned in the coming months, with more to be arranged:
Exeter: 5 July
East Midlands: 20 July.
These events are important opportunities for the LGA to hear from councillors on the need for greater independence for local government and to press the Government on behalf of councils to continue moving ahead with decentralisation. The campaign will come to a landmark point at the LGA's Annual Conference in Birmingham, when we will introduce our response to the Select Committee's proposed code in advance of our formal written submission in October. If you would like to attend these events or would like more information on the campaign, please contact Jessica Thrift (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the LGA Public Affairs and Campaigns team.
Localis, in partnership with the LGA, has produced a report arguing that a new locally-driven approach to regeneration is needed. The report analyses the lessons from a number of case studies of successful regeneration programmes and concludes that local authorities are best placed to provide the local leadership that is crucial to drive successful regeneration.
The report also advocates an expansion of the community budget pilots across the country and the introduction of bolder funding mechanisms to allow councils to coordinate and fund regeneration programmes from the bottom up despite the challenging financial climate.
The Localism Act 2011 created the Community Right to Challenge, which allows voluntary and community groups, charities, parish councils, and local authority staff to bid to run a local authority service where they believe they can do so differently and better.
Both sets of regulations required to bring the Community Right to Challenge into effect have been laid in Parliament. Statutory guidance has also been published on the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) website. This is published in draft to allow for factual changes should the regulations be amended through the Parliamentary process. A final version will be published when the right comes into force.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Community Right to Challenge will come into effect on 27 June 2012.
For the most up-to-date information please join in the conversation on the Knowledge Hub Localism Group.
The Open Public Services White Paper (published July 2011) outlined that improving and opening up public services is a central aim of the coalition Government. As part of this process the Cabinet Office have launched a call to evidence to understand whether there is value in enshrining in legislation a right to choice. They want citizens to tell them if this is what they want. They are also seeking evidence and views on what such legislation might look like.
The focus of the call is on the potential impact of enacting legislation for a right to choice in individual services. Evidence submitted will inform decision-making on whether or not it would be necessary and appropriate to take steps to introduce legislation during this Parliament, or in the future.
The Call to evidence on the right to choose closes on 22 June.
You can respond to the call individually or as an organisation. However the Local Government Association would be interested in hearing your views to include in our response.
Please send any comments to Kevin Halden (email@example.com) by Wednesday 20 June.
With the new General Power of Competence being introduced by the Localism Act, councils will have a greater degree of freedom to trade and charge. This will allow them to think innovatively about new products and services and how to offer existing services more cost effectively.
In the past, councils have too often been prevented from using trading to deliver better services and generate funding for more services. For example, in 2009 a group of councils were prevented from forming a mutual insurance company that could have saved money and reduced risks for councils in delivering services.
This guide focuses on how councils, on their own or working with other public bodies, can be enterprising by increasingly trading and charging. It also highlights some of the innovative approaches that councils are using already, which others could look to replicate, should this be appropriate locally.
Enterprising councils: Getting the most from trading and charging
In communities across the country we know that local people are concerned about losing locally-valued assets and associated services – from inner-city community centres to village pubs and post offices.
Through the Localism Act 2011, Government has moved to introduce a new ‘Community Right-to-bid' to empower communities to respond to these challenges by taking even greater control of land and buildings where they live.
This guide explores the range of tools available to unleash the creativity, innovation and growth flowing from community asset ownership and management. It aims to support councillors when discussing these issues with local voluntary and community groups, parish councils or within their own authority.
Empowering communities: making the most of local assets – A councillors' guide
The Welfare Reform Act 2012: Implications and challenges for local authorities
20 July 2012 | London
The Welfare Reform Act brings radical change to the welfare environment. Delegates at this conference will hear Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point, and other key speakers discuss the changes to the delivery of welfare and be among the first to hear which councils have been selected to pilot the delivery of Universal Credit.
The LGA annual conference
26-28 June 2012 | Birmingham
The LGA annual conference is a two-day event running sessions and workshops on every part of local government, from culture, tourism and sport to community safety. Lead members, Members of Parliament and industry experts will be just some of the keynote speakers. There will be plenty of opportunities to explore innovative ways to tackle the top policy issues affecting local government, share good practice, network and learn about the tools the LGA offer local government to help in these challenging times.
Colleagues interested in the Localism programme may find the following workshop of particular interest.
Plenary session 5: Community budgets
Wednesday 27 June, 14.45-15.30
At the LGA's annual conference 2011, the Deputy Prime Minister announced support for areas to develop two ‘whole-place' community budgets and two others to do the same at a neighbourhood level. Subsequently, on the 21st December 2011, the Government announced that four areas had been selected to take forward the whole area approach and 10 for the neighbourhood level.
Six months on from their successful selection, two places who are taking a leading role in shaping the future of public service delivery will share their experiences with delegates.
Councillor Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council
Councillor Philippa Roe, Leader, Westminster City Council
Jim Barker-McCardle, Chief Constable, Essex Police
Dr Huw Charles-Jones, Chair, West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group
Chair: Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell.
Brighton & Hove Council, with the area's community and voluntary sector forum, has produced a selection of case studies outlining different models that have or are being tried in different local authority areas where budgets and decision making are devolved from local authorities to a geographical area.
As part of the Creative Councils programme, Involve and NESTA hosted a series of free webinars on community engagement and related issues. Many of the Creative Councils projects are trying to connect councils with the communities they serve in new and interesting ways.
Each session included a presentation by an expert in the field, with opportunities for participants to ask questions and make comments.
This Department for Communities and Local Government site provides a selection of statistics on local government finance, housing and homelessness and deprivation, as well as supporting geographical data.
All of the data are fully available to browse and query as linked data, and are free to re-use under the Open Government Licence. A selection of the data from this site is now available via a searchable ‘Local Authority Dashboard.'
'The Times' ran a story about troubled families and the problems they cause in their neighbourhoods. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, had earlier told the Independent on Sunday that there will be a tougher approach to problem families under a £448 million three year programme in which trouble shooters will attempt to turn around their lives. Sir Merrick Cockell said: "Councils have a longstanding commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable families and their communities, so it is unsurprising that so many have signed up to this new scheme to take the agenda forward." Cllr David Simmonds also appeared on BBC Radio 4 'You and Yours' on Tuesday lunchtime to discuss the issue.
The Times, 11 June 2012
BBC Radio , Your and Yours, 12 June 2012
31 January 2013