Supporting councils

We support councils continuously to improve and innovate through a programme of practical peer-based support underpinned by strong local leadership and through our service delivery partnerships.

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The LGA’s sector led improvement programme continues to provide a responsive and flexible offer and remains in a strong position to respond and adapt to councils’ needs as circumstances evolve, particularly in the context of COVID-19.

We work closely with councils to understand their future support needs with a view to developing a longer- term offer. Our offer will continue to adapt as the opportunities and challenges facing councils change within the current context.

Our core offer is funded by MHCLG grant and has been rapidly refocused to support councils in their response to COVID-19 as well as identifying longer term support needs. We also receive funding from the Department of Health and Social Care for our Care and Health Improvement Programme, whilst our children’s improvement programme is funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

We have developed a new offer linked to climate change and the challenges and opportunities of moving to a zero-carbon economy.

We also receive funding from other government departments for specific sector-led improvement activities, including:

  • One Public Estate – funded by Cabinet Office and MHCLG
  • Cultural services and sport – in partnership with Arts Council England and Sport England
  • Planning Advisory Services – funded by MHCLG
  • Return to Work programme – funded by the Government Equalities Office
  • Cyber security – funded by the Cabinet Office.

Our commitments will continue to be updated to ensure they match councils needs across the period of this business plan. 

Challenge and support from peers

We will:

  • maintain an overview of councils’ performance to drive improvement, manage the risk of significant underperformance, provide support for councils facing the greatest financial challenges (particularly in the light of COVID-19) and minimise government intervention
  • create dedicated programmes in response, including Recovery and Renewal panels, among other forms of remote support in response to COVID-19 
  • deliver peer challenges to all councils who request them, including corporate, service specific, financial and place-based: the format will be continually reviewed in light of COVID-19
  • provide member peer support for councils under a change of political control, including new e-learning opportunities, mentoring and advice
  • support councils to resolve issues between political and managerial leadership
  • support councils in engaging with their communities in light of COVID-19
  • provide free council and public access to transparent performance information through LG Inform and LG Inform VFM, with additional charged access for councils to small area data reports and improvement tools through LG Inform Plus
  • support councils to develop scrutiny skills and expertise through the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny.
Strong and resilient political and officer leadership

We will:

  • support many hundreds of councillors through our leadership programmes both remotely and through onsite learning and will continue to review the suite of programmes to ensure councillors and officers have the skills they need to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 
  • support councillors with the potential to progress in their political careers through our Next Generation programme
  • support the leadership development of chief executives, managers and rising talent in councils, in partnership with SOLACE
  • help councils, political groups and national parties to attract new talent into civic life through our Be a Councillor programme
  • recruit high calibre graduates to the National Graduate Development Programme, working with councils to secure challenging placements
  • help councils to address inequalities, gender pay gap, ethnicity gap and support the of roll out Disability Confident
  • maintain national negotiating machinery on pay and workforce issues
  • provide specialist advice and support for the Local Government Pension Scheme
  • deliver comprehensive practical support to help councils provide apprenticeships and maximise their levy investment
  • support councils to transform their workforces and modernise the way they are managed
  • support councils to promote wellbeing, diversity and inclusion in the workplace through information, guidance and bespoke support and work with them to address issues around gender pay gap, representation and recruitment challenges
  • attract qualified staff in hard-to-recruit areas back to local government through the Return to Work programme, including social workers, town planners, legal and IT professionals. 
Councils supporting growth

We will:

  • provide practical support to help councils deliver economic growth in their areas in a COVID-19 context, become more efficient and improve outcomes for communities
  • in line with the revised national procurement strategy, deliver a support programme to help councils improve their procurement arrangements
  • capture and share intelligence about major suppliers to reduce the risk from suppliers getting into financial difficulty in the current uncertain economic circumstances
  • support councils to develop a more commercial approach to their activities within the COVID-19 context, through a series of courses, events and sharing good practice
  • provide expert financial support, expertise and advice to councils to address specific issues, particularly in relation to COVID-19
  • equip more councils with the skills and confidence to use design and behavioural insights to improve public services and respond to COVID-19
  • support councils to exploit the opportunities of digital tools and solutions to enable local residents and businesses to access council services online
  • with councils, sector representative bodies, MHCLG, Cabinet Office and the National Cyber Security Centre, highlight the importance of cyber security and cyber resilience to protect data and systems
  • share best practice of councils who are finding new and effective ways of working to secure outcomes for their communities 
  • with Local Partnerships, support councils to make savings by providing commercial advice and support on matters of legal and contractual complexity.
Strong communities with excellent public services

We will:

  • through practical bespoke support, help councils deal with the housing, planning and homelessness challenges through the Housing Advisers programme and other sector-wide projects
  • provide peer focused support to the Next Steps Accommodation Programme to support interim accommodation for vulnerable people.
  • offer a mixture of generic and bespoke support for combined authorities, elected mayors and those areas in the process of developing their devolution arrangements
  • support councils to counter extremism and contribute to a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence
  • strengthen fire and rescue authorities’ ability to take forward the fire reform agenda by strengthening their strategic leadership
  • support councils to prepare and deliver a successful transition for EU exit
  • support councils to embed strengthened approaches to civil resilience and mutual aid through working with MHCLG team to develop training, guidance and other materials for councils
Improving health and care service
  • co-produce with ADASS the sector led improvement programme for care and health
  • support social care and health integration and the transforming care programme for people with learning disabilities and/or autism
  • support councils to use technology to improve joint working between councils and health partners to enable people to live independently
  • help councils develop innovative, efficient and sustainable approaches in care and health services
  • work with partners to support councils to develop and improve local services and offer a programme of leadership development
  • develop and deliver a support offer to help councils and their partners embed the Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) approach
  • support councils and their partners to identify and manage sustainability and delivery risks
  • work with partners to develop a new suicide prevention sector-led improvement offer
  • work with partners and DfE to deliver a sector-led approach to improving children’s services.
Improving children's services

We will:

  • provide nationally accredited and quality assured courses for practitioners and associates engaging in peer review, challenge or diagnostic activity
  • run Leadership Essentials courses for members with lead responsibility for children’s services
  • publish a series of ‘must know’ packs for councils, including on corporate parenting
  • develop and/or broker a flexible offer of diagnostic or peer review tools either bespoke to individual authorities, as part of a regional offer or commissioned by the DfE for authorities in intervention
  • offer mentoring support for councillors with lead responsibility for children’s services.
Combatting climate change

We will:

  • bring together local authorities, universities and other stakeholders to address climate challenges at the local level 
  • incorporate climate change issues into core leadership programmes for councillors and officers
  • develop a package of communications support including how to engage with local activist groups
  • help councils build capacity to effectively respond to climate change challenges, including support around leadership, behaviour change and collaboration
  • support long term action-planning and setting strategic objectives, including through webinars and bespoke projects.