Frequently asked questions

We answer all the common questions about becoming a councillor.


1. Why would I want to be a councillor?  

Being a councillor is all about giving back to your community, bringing your energy and hard-working attitude, getting stuck in and making a real difference - to local people and to wider society. 

Councils link to nearly every aspect of our lives and are responsible for up to 800 services - from social care and the environment, to leisure centres and heritage sites.  

You can make a real difference to the local community and wider society in many different ways as a councillor.  

Helping to shaping the future of the local community, representing the views and needs of local people to ensure the community gets the right services, tackling specific issues and driving new ideas. 

  • Councillors make a real difference to people’s quality of life 
  • It’s a varied and highly fulfilling role  
  • You don’t need any experience or special qualifications 
  • You’ll gain new skills, experience, knowledge and confidence 
  • Councillors are paid  
  • Councillors can work flexibly 

1.1 Councillors make a real difference

Councillors make a real difference to people’s quality of life.  

Here are some of the achievements that our case study councillors have told us about:  

  • Getting a crossing installed at a dangerous junction  
  • Solving housing safety and repairs issues  
  • Getting fitness activities set up for all ages  
  • Helping small businesses with advice and grants 
  • Getting better street lighting 
  • Helping refugee families get settled in the local area 
  • Creating greener spaces with new planting  
  • Setting up community transport services 
  • Serving on fostering and adoption panels  
  • Halting plans to scrap a bike lane 
  • Installing bins in areas with a high amount of litter  
  • Improving biodiversity 
  • Getting overgrown bushes cut back on walkways  
  • Including residents’ views and needs in a regeneration plan 

1.2 It’s a varied and highly fulfilling role  

We are often told that no day is the same – councillors can deal with every kind of issue or idea that comes up in our lives from littering and community safety, to schools and local health services, or electric car charging points and restaurant hygiene.   

The role is very varied and includes, for example: 

  • helping residents with queries and issues (called casework) 
  • keeping in touch with the community to understand local needs and new ideas 
  • preparing for formal council meetings by reading reports and considering what to do about plans and issues 
  • empowering communities by knowing when to lead, when to support others to drive projects, and when to step back  
  • working collaboratively with voluntary and community organisations, police, health partners, and businesses 
  • attending council meetings to represent local people’s views and needs 
  • helping make decisions and monitoring the work once it begins

It is a highly fulfilling role - being able to give back and make a real difference to residents and the local community, as well as contribute to wider issues across the whole area and society generally such as homelessness or climate change. 

1.3 You don’t need any experience or special qualifications 

Your everyday skills, life experience, passion and commitment to people and communities are really valuable – and it’s vital that councils reflect the local population. There are a number of useful skills that help councillors do the job (see below) but don’t worry if you need to develop any of these skills - you will get training once elected, as well as gain knowledge through preparing for an election. 

There can be a steep learning curve but it is worth it for what you can achieve for the local community.    

Some of the most important skills for councillors are listed here but please find more detail about what these mean in practice in our FAQ below ‘Do I need any experience or qualifications’ 

  • Community leadership  
  • Communication skills  
  • Partnership and team working  
  • Problem solving, questioning and analytical skills  
  • Being flexible, adaptable and open-minded  
  • Organisational and time management skills  
  • Political understanding  

1.4 You’ll gain new skills, experience, knowledge and confidence 

Councillors gain:  

  • Practical work experience  
  • New knowledge about a broad range of subjects - from housing and biodiversity, to food hygiene and transport. 
  • Personal development and confidence – e.g. handling questions, problems and ideas from residents; reading reports and analysing information; participating in meetings; leadership skills; facilitation or influencing skills 
  • Training at your council; the opportunity to take part in national training and networking; and support from your political party or the Local Government Association Independent Group.   
  • Learning, skills and confidence that can be transferred back into employment, and which can be career-enhancing. 

See our FAQs ‘Training and support’ and ‘Do I need any experience or qualifications’ sections.

1.5 Councillors are paid 

Councillors are not paid a salary but they are entitled to receive financial compensation called an ‘allowance’ and expenses. This ensures they are not left out of pocket by covering costs such as travel to and from meetings and recognises the time devoted to council business on behalf of local people.  

Each council sets its own rate and you can find out how much the allowance is in your area is by searching for the ‘Members Allowances Scheme’ on your council’s website.  

On average, councillors in England receive around £7,000 ranging from approx. £3,000 to £16,000 (Tax Payers’ Alliance (December 2020) Councillors’ Allowances 2020).  

Councillors with special responsibilities such as cabinet members receive an additional allowance on top as they will spend significantly more time on council business.  

See our ‘Will I get paid’ section.

1.6 Councillors can work flexibly 

Many councillors fit their council work around their job, studying, caring responsibilities, and other volunteering work.  

How much time you spend on your duties is largely up to you and will depend on the different roles and commitments each councillor takes up.  

By law, if you are working, your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor. You can find out more via the .gov.uk website in the Time off work for public duties section. 

The role requires commitment, hard work and good time management - and that while it can be challenging at times, it is highly fulfilling with everything that you can achieve for the local area and wider society.  

See ‘What is the time commitment’ and ‘Can I have a job and be a councillor’ sections.  

2. What do councillors do?  

The role is varied and fulfilling, where you can make a real difference for the community as well as wider society.  

You don’t need any experience or special qualifications. Your everyday skills, life experience, hard-working attitude, passion and commitment are most important. 

2.1 Councillors serve and represent the community  

The key role of a councillor is to serve and represent everyone in the ward that they are elected to (and not just those who voted for them). Some are also appointed to additional roles in the council such as cabinet members. 

Councillors serve and represent the community in many ways, for example: 

  • Talking to constituents by phone, email and letter, social media, home visits, drop-in sessions, street or community meetings, and local events. 
  • Responding to queries and issues from local residents, investigating concerns, helping with solutions (this is called casework). 
  • Keeping the community informed about local issues and events - for example through email, newsletters, blogs, social media and in person. 
  • Keeping up-to-date on what’s happening in the local area to understand needs and views.   
  • Reading council meeting agendas and reports, research and evidence to understand issues and participate in discussions and decisions. 
  • Attending formal council meetings as well as meetings with local or regional groups and organisations. 
  • Working collaboratively with citizens, voluntary and community organisations, police, health partners, and businesses. Building strong relationships and encouraging people to get involved and share their views and ideas.  
  • Empowering communities by knowing when to step back, when to support, and when to lead; understanding the skills and assets of the community; connecting people and organisations; providing funding; helping to drive forward solutions, projects and ideas. 
  • Some councillors have extra responsibilities, for example specific council projects, or positions in the cabinet, committees or regulation boards.  

2.2 Councillors must adhere to protocols and behaviour standards 

Every council has their own constitution and code of conduct which you can search for on the council website. The Seven Principles of Public Life outline the ethical standards that those working in the public sector are expected to adhere to, including councillors.  

2.3 Councillors shape the future of the local area by making plans and taking decisions 

Councils need strategies, policies and plans to achieve the vision for the local area, making the best use of resources and meeting the needs of local communities. As a councillor you will help create these by, for example: 

  • reading evidence, research and meeting papers to understand the issues. 
  • finding out the views, needs and ideas from residents in your ward. 
  • considering what to do and how to do it - whilst ensuring inclusivity, accessibility, value for money and efficiency. 
  • attending meetings to discuss and debate issues and solutions. 
  • voting to make a decision. 
  • checking decisions already taken (scrutinising)  
  • helping to monitor work taking place.  

2.4 Councillors undertake political activities 

This can include attending local political meetings, talking with residents, leafletting, training, and personal development.  

If you are an independent, there is support and events available from the Local Government Association Independent Group

3. What do councils do? 

Councils run more than 800 services (depending on the type of council). Many are visible to everyone but some you may only know about if you come into direct contact with them.  

Here are some of the 800 services that councils provide:  

  • School education and adult learning 
  • Children’s and adult’s social care 
  • Housing and regeneration 
  • Emergency responses e.g. flooding, Fire and Rescue services, and Covid-19  
  • Parks, playgrounds and open spaces 
  • Community cohesion  
  • Leisure centres and activities for all ages 
  • Climate and environment 
  • Health and wellbeing 
  • Supporting vulnerable residents 
  • Refuse, recycling and street cleaning 
  • Economic growth, business support and advice 
  • Arts, libraries, museums and heritage sites 
  • Transport, roads and street lighting 
  • Community safety and crime reduction 
  • Planning and building regulations 

Most services that councils run are called ‘mandatory’ or ‘statutory’ - which means that by law councils must run them – for example schools, social care, homelessness prevention, food hygiene inspections for cafes and takeaways, rubbish collection and recycling, parks and leisure centres. Central government tightly controls how some of these are delivered but for some services councils can decide how to run them.  

Other services are ‘discretionary’ or ‘non-statutory’, so the council can decide what to run and how – from large regeneration projects to wasp nest removal services. 

A lot of council work is done in an agile way, with a focus on improvement, collaboration and innovation, and by working with the community and other partners such as the police and the NHS.  

The council and local services are mainly funded by payments from central government as well as council tax - although council tax makes up only about a quarter of a council’s budget.  

4. Do I need any experience or special qualifications?

You don’t need any experience or special qualifications.  

Your life experience, everyday skills, passion and commitment to people and communities are vital, and it’s important that councils reflect the local population.  

Being a councillor is all about giving back to your community, bringing your energy and hard-working attitude, and making a real difference - to local people and to wider society. 

However, there are a number of skills which councillors find useful in the role (please see below). There can be a steep learning curve but it is worth it for what you can achieve for your community. You will receive training and support to learn new skills, develop knowledge and gain confidence. 

You will gain:  

  • Knowledge on wide range of topics, such as housing and transport, mental and physical health, culture and biodiversity 
  • Understanding of decision-making, finance and budgets, policy making, and innovation. 
  • Practical skills such as reading reports, problem solving, chairing a meeting, or public speaking. 

Community leadership – keeping in touch with the community and helping with issues and ideas; staying up-to-date to understand local views and needs; driving forward the vision for the local area; and bringing people together. 

Communication skills – listening; empathy and interpersonal skills; considering different points of view; participating in meetings; and building relationships. You will learn about influencing skills, advocacy and mediation. As well as using appropriate and inclusive language and different forms of media to communicate. 

Partnership and team working -  building good relationships with local groups and organisations; knowing when to lead, support or step back; working with others including councillors of differing political views.  

Problem solving, questioning and analytical skills - the ability to get to the bottom of an issue; weighing up the arguments; reading evidence, research and reports; considering different solutions; scrutinising and providing constructive challenge and feedback. 

Being flexible, adaptable and open-minded - managing competing and changing needs and priorities; understanding a range of different views; working in an environment that can be fast-paced and long-term at the same time; and helping to respond to challenges or emergencies. 

Organisational and time management skills - managing your time; completing tasks given to you and meeting deadlines; using a range of technology; following processes and protocols. 

Political understanding - communicating your values; promoting a vision for the local area;  encouraging democratic participation and public engagement; working across political boundaries; maintaining your own political integrity; working within a party or local political group (if you have one).  

Remember, you will receive training and support to learn skills, develop knowledge and gain confidence. There can be a steep learning curve but it is worth it for what you can achieve for your community.  

You can read more about the role and skills for councillors in the Political Skills Framework and the 21st Century Councillor as well as accessing our resources for further support.  

5. What is the time commitment? 

5.1 Hours per week

How much time you spend on your duties as a councillor is largely up to you and will depend on the different roles and commitments each councillor takes up.  

Being an effective councillor requires commitment and hard work but the role can be done flexibly around employment, studying, caring, and other volunteering commitments. Councillors also receive financial compensation (called an ‘allowance’) and expenses for their time.  

Find out more on our ‘Will I get paid’ FAQ below. 

The commitment can be challenging at times, but that the role is highly fulfilling and that it is worth it for what you can achieve for your community. 

22% of councillors spend 10 hours or less on council business. On average, councillors spend 22 hours a week. 18% of councillors spend over 30 hours a week. (Local Government Association, Councillor Census 2018). 

Cabinet members or leaders will spend more time on council business but will also receive a higher allowance.  

Before you consider becoming a councillor you may want to discuss it with your family and friends to decide how to balance everything. You will need their support as you'll have to spend some of your spare time on council business.  

Hear from real councillors to find out more and use our resources to find out how you would balance life as a councillor. 

5.2 Council meetings 

While much of the day-to-day work of a councillor takes place outside of formal meetings, you will be required to attend some council meetings to:  

  • represent community views, needs and ideas 
  • help create strategies, policies and plans 
  • make decisions and/or review decisions taken 

Each council runs their meetings differently and meetings can be held in the day and/or in the evening. Some meetings can now be done remotely with virtual technology although formal council meetings are still required by law to take place in person. However, this is currently being reviewed by central government and the Local Government Association is pressing for councils to be able to hold formal council meetings virtually.  

Not all councillors are required to attend all meetings, but there are a certain number each year that councillors must attend. You can view the meetings calendar on your council’s website – usually under Council and Democracy.  

By law, if you are working, your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor. The amount of time given will depend on your responsibilities and the effect of your absence on your employer's business. Many employers are supportive and understand the importance, value and mutual benefits of their employees contributing to the community in this way. You should discuss this with your employer before making the commitment to stand for election. Employers can choose to pay you for this time, but they don’t have to. 

Councillors can also claim back costs for childcare and caring services whilst on certain councillor duties.  

5.3 Election dates and length of service  

Councils run difference election cycles so check when the next elections are with your council – contact Electoral Services or Democratic Services.  

Every councillor is elected for four years at each election.  

Some councils run elections every four years for all seats, and some councils elect a third of their councillors each year and have the fourth year without any elections.  

Don’t be discouraged if the next elections are a long way away – there is plenty to do and learn on the journey to becoming a councillor. Starting early will help to understand the processes of standing for election and learn more about local government to hit the ground running if elected.  

5.4 Political party processes and timescales 

 

Political parties have selection processes to decide who should stand for election in each local area.  

For those interested in standing for a political party, it’s important to make contact to find out how to get involved locally and about the selection process to become the candidate for your area. For some political parties, you need to have been a party member for a certain amount of time before you can put yourself forward, so please do get involved as soon as you can. 

If you are interested in standing as an independent or residents' group you will need to spend time working out your views on local issues, needs and services as well as raising your profile locally, and campaigning. There is support and free resources from the Local Government Association Independent Group such as their Be a Councillor resources and Campaign Corner

6. Will I get paid? 

Councillors are not paid a salary but they are entitled to receive financial compensation called an ‘allowance’ and expenses. This ensures they are not left out of pocket by covering costs such as travel to and from meetings and recognises the time devoted to council business on behalf of local people.  

Each council sets its own rate for allowances, which you can search for on your council's website – usually called the ‘Members Allowances Scheme’.  

On average, councillors in England receive around £7,000 a year - ranging from £3,000 to £16,000 depending on the council (Tax Payers’ Alliance (December 2020) Councillors’ Allowances 2020).  

The amount paid also depends on the role and responsibility of each councillor – all councillors get paid the basic allowance. For councillors with specific roles such as cabinet members or leaders of the council, they receive a Special Responsibility Allowance on top of the basic allowance to reflect the level of work and additional time commitment required.  

Councillors can also claim back costs for childcare and caring services whilst on certain councillor duties.  

7. Can I have a job and be a councillor?  

By law, if you are working, your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor. The amount of time given will depend on your responsibilities and the effect of your absence on your employer's business. Employers can choose to pay you for this time, but they don’t have to.  

We would encourage you to discuss as soon as possible with your employer before making the commitment to stand for election.  

Many employers are supportive and understand the importance, value and mutual benefits of their employees contributing to the community in this way.  

There are many benefits to both employee and employer – practical work experience, skills and knowledge which can be transferred into any workplace, and the role can be career-enhancing.  

 Being a councillor provides: 

  • Practical work experience: council work is incredibly varied (as councils run up to 800 services) and links to all aspects of our life and therefore all types of employment.  
  • New skills: such as leadership skills, communication skills, reading reports, influencing skills and speaking at meetings or events. 
  • Knowledge: about the local community, how councils, government and the wider public sector works; as well as topics from culture and biodiversity, mental and physical health, to finance and budgets. 
  • Confidence: gained through new experiences, challenges and achievements for the local area. 

See below for more details in our FAQs ‘Training and support’ and ‘Experience and qualifications’ above. 

8. Training and support 

There is a wide range of support available. And, once elected, councillors also receive training and support at all levels.  

  • Councils run ‘induction’ training for all new councillors. This helps familiarise oneself with the work of the council and all of its departments and set out expectations and roles of councillors. There is mandatory training for example on finance, safeguarding, equality and diversity, and the code of conduct. Councillors are also set up with IT equipment and support.  
  • Councils offer continual development opportunities throughout the time as a councillor to help with knowledge of council services and to develop personal skills and confidence.   
  • The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national organisation for councils and provides a wide range of support from how to chair meetings and handle casework from residents; to understanding different council services such as health, planning or reducing carbon emissions; as well as personal development such as influencing and facilitation skills or supporting residents with complex needs.  
  • The LGA offers cross-party and political networking with other councillors, as well as support in affinity groups such as the ‘weekender’ events for BAME councillors, LGBTQIA+ councillors, women and young councillors.  
  • The LGA also provides support and guides on specific topics from housing and environment, to education and leisure.  
  • LG Inform is a brilliant (and free) data and benchmarking tool that pulls together the important stats for your local area.  
  • Political parties, the LGA Independent Group and cross-party democracy organisations such as Elect Her, My Life My Say, Operation Black Vote, and Shout Out UK provide support, resources and events.  
  • Councillors also network with other councillors which provides another great source of support – this includes councillors from different political persuasions and different regions. 

9. Independent or political party? 

Councillors can be independent, part of a group of independents, in a residents’ association or a member of a political party.   

If you are interested in standing as an independent you will need to spend time working out your views on local issues and services, raising your profile locally and campaigning. There is support and free resources from the Local Government Association’s Independent Group via their Be a Councillor and Campaign Corner webpages. 

For those interested in standing for a political party, do make contact and get involved locally as soon as possible. For some political parties, you’ll need to have been a member for a certain amount of time. You will be able to get involved with local party activities and find out about the selection processes which everyone goes through to be selected as a candidate.   

Whether councillors are in the administration or opposition - all councillors are vitally important, and make a real difference for the community.  

Get in touch via our political contacts and Be a Councillor contacts

You can also find out more about local groups and political parties by looking at party websites and social media, or getting involved with cross-party organisations such as Elect Her, My Life My Say, Operation Black Vote, and Shout Out UK.  

10. Eligibility 

Almost anyone can be a councillor. You don’t need any experience or special qualifications. Your life experience, everyday skills, passion and commitment to people and communities are vital, and it’s important that councils reflect the local population.  

There are a number of useful skills which help councillors carry out their role. However, you will receive training and become more experienced and confident once elected. There can be a steep learning curve but it is worth it for what you can achieve for your community.  

Please read more in the ‘Experience and qualifications’ FAQ above. 

To be a councillor you need to be: 

  • British or a citizen of the Commonwealth. You may also be eligible as a citizen of the European Union, however, the criteria has changed now that the UK has left the European Union. Please check on the gov.uk website for advice about EU citizens’ voting and candidacy rights in local elections. 
  • At least 18 years old 
  • Registered to vote in the area or have lived, worked or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election 

You can’t be a councillor if you: 

  • Work for the council you want to be a councillor for, or for another local authority in a political restricted post 
  • Are the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or interim order 
  • Have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including suspended sentences) during the five years before election day 
  • Have been convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice by an election court 

Please read the full eligibility criteria from the Electoral Commission. If you are in any doubt about whether you are eligible to stand as a councillor, you should contact the Electoral Services or Democratic Services team at your local council or the Electoral Commission for advice. 

11. Next steps   

Go for it! Is the advice we constantly hear from councillors, who have gone through the same process.  

You probably have lots of questions about being a councillor and below we have listed a range of steps you can take to find out more about the practicalities, decide whether it is for you, and support you on this journey.   

  • Find out when your next local government elections are by checking your local council website or contacting the Democratic Services team. You can check which council you come under on the gov.uk Find My Council page.  

  • Make sure you are registered on the electoral roll by contacting the Electoral Services team at your council. 

  • If you are interested in independent politics (not a political party), you can get resources and advice from the Local Government Association’s Independent Office, their Be a Councillor resources and Campaign Corner. As an independent, you will also need to start working out your views on local issues and services. 

  • To stand for a political party, you’ll need to be a member of the party, get involved locally and go through their selection process to be put forward as their candidate for election. You can find out more on each party’s website. Depending on which party you are interested in, this can take up to about a year, so please contact your political party as soon as you can to start getting involved. You can also contact political parties through our Support and Contact details who will be happy to help.   

  • Almost anyone can be a councillor but to check that you are eligible, please see the ‘Eligibility’ FAQ above and read the full eligibility criteria from the Electoral Commission. You can also contact Democratic Services at your council to discuss.  
  • Hear from real councillors about what it’s like being a councillor, their tips and advice.  
  • Have an informal chat with a councillor to find out more – contact a councillor via the council website or social media, or ask us to put you in touch with someone. They will be happy to talk about it.    
  • Watch our Be a Councillor film to hear more about what it’s like being a councillor. 
  • Use our Be a Councillor support and resources to see how you would handle being a councillor.  
  • Explore, research and keep up-to-date about your local area, for example the services available, and the needs and ideas of different communities. 
  • Get involved with other democratic organisations such as Elect Her, My Life My Say, Operation Black Vote, and Shout Out UK for support, events and networking.   
  • Attend council meetings and other local events to find out more about local government. You can check on the council website and with community organisations and networks about what’s happening.   
  • If you are working, talk to your employer. By law, your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor but this should be discussed prior to standing for election. Employers can choose to pay you for this time, but don’t have to. Many employers are supportive and understand the importance, value and mutual benefits of their employees contributing to the community in this way. 
  • Read the guidance from the Electoral Commission about the process of standing for election and forms to fill out. To become nominated as a candidate you usually need to submit a completed set of nomination papers to your council by 4pm on the 19th working day before the election. However, please contact the Democratic Services team at your council to get the necessary paperwork, confirm the deadlines, and find out what help they can give you to submit your papers correctly.  
  • You will need to get 10 people (in the ward where you wish to stand) to sign your nomination papers.  
  • Build your local profile, reputation and campaign. Find out more about campaigning from the Local Government Association’s Independent Office, your political party, and the Electoral Commission

12. How do I know if this is for me? 

Find out more about what being a councillor is like from our case studies from real councillors, watch our Be a Councillor film, and use our Be a Councillor resources including our ‘Next steps’ FAQ above. We also encourage you to get in touch with a councillor for an informal chat (or ask us to put you in touch with someone). 

Don’t worry if you don’t yet feel that you have the skills or confidence to be a councillor. Councils need people from all backgrounds and life experiences so that councillors reflect our local communities. There can be a steep learning curve but it is worth it for what can achieve for the local community and wider society.  

Your council, the Local Government Association, Independent Group and political parties provide support, information and training for candidates and new councillors - as well as ongoing support for councillors of all levels. Please get in touch via our political contacts and Be a Councillor contacts

13. Wellbeing and personal safety in public and online 

Standing for election and serving as a councillor is a responsibility, a privilege and highly fulfilling. However, we are aware that councillors and candidates can be subjected to abuse, especially on social media, and that this is putting people off. This is hugely concerning to us as an organisation representing local government and encouraging new people to stand for election. We need a diverse pool of candidates and councillors to reflect and represent our local communities, ensuring that decision-making is robust and well-informed. 

You will find support through other candidates and councillors, political groups and parties, councils and the Local Government Association (LGA). The LGA has a guide with steps that individuals and organisations can take to protect yourself as a person in a public position, and how to respond should an incident occur. Read our Guide to Handling Intimidation.  

14. Support and contact details 

There are a range of people to talk to who can help you find out more about being a councillor. People will be pleased to hear from you and happy to help, so do get in touch for an informal chat.  

Get in touch via our political contacts and Be a Councillor contacts

You can also contact other democratic organisations for support, resources and events, such as Elect Her, My Life My Say, Operation Black Vote, and Shout Out UK

15. Find my local council 

Find your local council in England, Wales or Scotland 

You may also have a town or parish council in your local area

16. Do I have a parish or town council too?

There are a variety of different councils across the country – for example district councils, county councils and metropolitan councils. Many areas also have parish or town councils.

What do parish and town councillors do?

Parish and town councillors are passionate about their communities and seek to make a change to help improve the lives of their residents. Local councils run numerous services, depending on their size. These include introducing solar panels, setting up dementia-friendly groups, organising community buses, creating neighbourhood plans, implementing suitable housing, establishing youth projects, managing allotments and open spaces, maintaining footpaths, public seating and litter bins.

Becoming a councillor is a rewarding experience. A councillor’s role can include responsibilities such as developing strategies and plans for their community, helping with problems and ideas, representing the community, working with other local community groups, reviewing and making decisions, and talking to the community about their needs and council decisions.

What training and support is there?

Councillors can receive training and support via their county association, who are the representative bodies for local councils in their area. 

Established in 1947, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) provides a national voice for local (parish and town) councils across England. We campaign on their behalf, raise awareness of their work and provide them with a range of services to support their needs. Including campaigning, legal and audit advice, publications, conferences, events and training.

What is the time commitment?

NALC's Local Councillor Census Survey found that councillors put aside, on average, three hours a week for council work. Council work often includes attending meetings, engaging with residents and speaking to local groups and bodies on behalf of the council.

For more information, please get in touch with policycomms@nalc.gov.uk

Parish and town councils have overall responsibility for the wellbeing of your local community. Their work falls into three main categories: 

Delivery of services including: 

  • allotments
  • leisure facilities
  • bus shelters
  • litter bins
  • car parks
  • local illuminations
  • community centres
  • parks and open spaces
  • public toilets
  • street lighting
  • festivals and celebrations 

Improving quality of life through: 

  • local housing and infrastructure through neighbourhood plans
  • promoting dementia-friendly communities
  • tackling loneliness
  • acting as community hubs
  • funding cut community projects and vital services 

Giving communities a voice through representing: 

  • to the local police and health services
  • on planning matters with principal authorities and developers
  • to parliamentarians and government

Check for elections in your area by emailing your elections officer

Find out how to create a parish or town council

The National Association of Local Councils supports parish and town councils and councillors

Make a change – become a councillor - The Make A Change campaign encourages local councils to engage with as many residents from their community as possible. It will help improve local councils through various experiences, skills, and knowledge and help councils become representative of their communities.

Our Diversity Commission has begun work to look at ways for local councils to encourage every member of their community to get involved with what happens locally.

Points of Light is a collection of case studies highlighting the work that local (parish and town) councils are undertaking to support their communities. Each case study features a summary of the work carried out alongside electorate, precept and expenditure figures of the local councils involved.