Positive Corporate Peer Challenge Report concludes LGA remains “a strong organisation”

The report highlights the important role the LGA has played supporting councils to respond to a number of national crises in recent years, being seen by partners as “constructive”, “helpful”, “valued”, “candid” and “reasonable”.

18 Smith Square front building with lights on

The Local Government Association has today [8 March 2023] published the Peer Team report following its recent Corporate Peer Challenge which concludes that the LGA remains a “strong organisation” that has continued to improve since its last review in 2015.

The report highlights the important role the LGA has played supporting councils to respond to a number of national crises in recent years, being seen by partners as “constructive”, “helpful”, “valued”, “candid” and “reasonable”.

Conducted over four days during December 2022, the Peer Team conducted 65 interviews and focus groups with more than 150 members of the LGA’s political leadership, officers at all levels of the organisation, parliamentarians and government stakeholders, leading members and officers from councils as well as other partner bodies and member peers.  The team also reviewed a range of documents and information to ensure they were familiar with the LGA and the challenges and opportunities it is facing.

The very positive findings contained within the report, including the Peer Team’s conclusion that “If the LGA didn’t exist – we’d have to invent it” include:

  • The LGA has significantly increased its financial resilience since 2015, having carefully managed planned strategic steps
  • 84 per cent of local government stakeholders are supportive of the LGA’s sector led improvement approach (increased from 62 per cent in 2015)
  • The LGA has a strong record for influencing the issues facing the sector, including support to respond to national crises and achieving an extensive list of ‘policy wins’
  • There is a well-established, strong senior management team
  • The LGA is open to feedback and demonstrates an authentic spirit for improvement
  • The regional teams are highly regarded for the support they bring to councils
  • Staff are highly motivated and passionate about what they do
  • There is strong recognition for the brand of the LGA externally and the influence the LGA is able to have
  • Only two councils nationally are currently not in LGA membership and none are on notice to leave: a considerable improvement compared to 2014/15

The report includes 12 key recommendations for the LGA to consider, which the organisation is following through with a draft initial action plan agreed with the LGA Board on 8 March 2023.

These include:

  • Developing a closer working relationship with the Mayoral Combined Authorities and new county devolution areas as a key, growing part of the local government family
  • Leading the design of a reshaped sector support and assurance framework for local government and tightening the networks around sector support and assurance 
  • On staff issues, reaffirming the LGA’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and continuing to provide the required internal leadership and resource requirements for this and implementing the planned training and induction programme for all staff about working in a member-led environment at the LGA
  • Developing more horizon scanning positions on behalf of the sector, building on the work started and the methods used more recently

Commenting on the report’s findings, Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman of the LGA, said:

“With the LGA taking the lead in offering improvement support to councils, it is right that, in the spirit of continuous improvement and as a member organisation, we hold ourselves up to the spotlight too.

“We are pleased that the review team found the LGA to be a strong organisation that has continued to improve since our last Challenge in 2015 with 331 out of 333 English councils now in membership, and widespread recognition as the key partner in the relationship between central and local government.

“However, we must never be complacent. We recognise that there is always room for improvement and a draft Action Plan has already been agreed by our leadership team. This includes how we further strengthen relationships with our Combined Authorities and new devolution areas.

“We are also pleased that the review team has agreed that we should build on our current strengths in sector-led improvement and work with the sector, supported by DLUHC, to lead and develop an improvement and assurance framework for local government which can provide greater assurance for the sector.

“We look forward to welcoming the Peer Team back to the LGA in the Autumn.”

Ali Griffin, Lead Peer for the LGA’s Corporate Peer Challenge, said:

“It was really pleasing that we were welcomed as a Peer Team, demonstrating the LGA’s openness and commitment to self-improvement. 

“Overall, we found that the LGA is a strong organisation which is in a good position to respond to our recommendations. The recommendations are designed to encourage continuous improvement and ensure the LGA is in a position to support and advocate for the sector and its future.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Peer Team was:
    Ali Griffin (Chief Executive, London Councils and former Chief Executive of Southend Council)
    Ian Hudspeth OBE (former Leader of Oxfordshire County Council)
    Peter John OBE (former Leader of London Borough of Southwark)
    Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE (House of Lords, former elected Mayor of Watford)
    Cllr Jim McKenna (Cornwall Council)
    Andreas Kiefer (Secretary General and Director of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe)
    Charlotte Ramsden OBE (Director for People - Salford City Council
    Dan Archer (Senior Regional Adviser, North West, LGA)