Councils save more than £100 million through LGA sector-led improvement

The Local Government Association’s sector-led improvement (SLI) offer has helped councils save more than £100 million over the past year

Sector-led improvement

Sector-led improvement

All councils have received support from the LGA’s improvement work in the last 12 months, including the delivery of 140 peer challenges, training of more than 800 councillors and recruitment of more than 200 graduates.

The LGA’s Housing Advisers Programme is just one example of support which has had a positive impact on councils. The programme provided help – an independent expert was deployed for up to 20 days providing bespoke, local and flexible support – to more than 100 councils to build the homes their areas needed, reduced homelessness, planned for ageing populations and more.

In addition, the LGA’s improvement offer has helped councils:

  • Deliver more than £42 million of efficiency savings through our programme of Productivity Experts, which offers direct bespoke advice and support to councils to help them deliver efficiency savings or income generation;
  • Generate almost £10 million of additional income for councils through the deployment of our commercial experts;
  • Almost £2 million savings generated through our Digital Channel Shift programme, which redesigns specific services so they are available on different devices making it easier for residents and businesses to self-serve;
  • Our support for Local Partnerships helped councils generate savings in excess of £40 million in areas such as PFI, waste and energy through collaborative partnerships that target effectiveness and efficiencies. 

The LGA’s annual SLI report also demonstrates the value placed by councils on peer challenge and support, with more than 95 per cent of leaders and chief executives saying the support has had a positive impact on their authority.

SLI is the approach to improvement put in place by local authorities and the LGA alongside the abolition of the previous national performance framework. It involves strong political and managerial leadership, challenge from peers, the ability to benchmark performance against others through the use of comparable data and the sharing and spreading of good practice.

The cost of inspection, regulation and monitoring of local government was estimated by the National Audit Office at £2 billion a year when the Audit Commission existed. This contrasts with the £19.2 million for the LGA’s sector-led improvement offer.  

With councils facing ongoing funding pressures and a funding gap of more than £5 billion next year, the LGA is today calling on the Government to secure long-term funding in the forthcoming Spending Round to help councils on their improvement journey. This will enable councils to reflect on the success of sector-led improvement and to look to maximise its benefits over the next decade.

Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said:

“Sector-led improvement continues to be an amazing local government success story that we should be proud of. 

“There is huge opportunity for this successful approach to improvement to be enhanced over the next decade.

“Councils have embraced sector-led improvement and have shown willingness to work with the LGA and MHCLG to become more effective and efficient. 

“We look forward to working closely with MHCLG to embed sector-led strengths, bringing fresh ideas and innovation, and to secure its funding for the future.”


  • LGA Sector-led Improvement 2018/19 report can be viewed on our website.
  • A memorandum of understanding has been agreed between the LGA and MHCLG to deliver sector-led improvement in 2019/20. A copy of the MoU can be found here.
  • Digital Channel Shift - the LGA funded 21 projects supporting 23 councils to use digital tools and solutions for their work on channel shift. These include redesigning specific services so they are available on different devices making it easier for citizens and businesses to self-serve and online booking services available 24/7
  • The LGA’s Shared Services map shows how collaborate services delivery and implementation through shared service arrangements has saved the taxpayer over £1.34 billion in cumulative efficiency savings from 626 partnerships.
  • 19 council chief executives and Leaders were interviewed following a corporate peer challenge or improvement support - Rising to the challenge: lessons of sector-led improvement in government. John Henderson, the Chief Executive of Staffordshire County Council, summed up the value of the LGA’s peer challenge compared to inspection when he said: “The important bit is actually the way it’s done, the critical friend that encourages openness …”