LGA Conservative Group bulletin January 2019

As we all know, funding for councils is under pressure. While the Local Government Financial Settlement has generally been well received, we need a long term sustainable settlement. Key to this will be Fair Funding and Business Rates retention (on which the Government is consulting) and the Spending Review. We need to ensure that all of these enable councils to deliver the services our residents need.


Dear colleague,

I am able to start off 2019 by congratulating those who were recognised in the New Year’s Honours List. We need councillors who go beyond what is expected of them, and I am proud of our colleagues who have had their achievements recognised. Congratulations go to Cllr Rory Love OBE (Folkestone & Hythe District Council), Cllr Peter Edgar MBE (Hampshire County Council), Cllr Sean Anstee CBE (Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council) and Cllr Ivan Ould OBE (Leicestershire County Council).

As we all know, funding for councils is under pressure. While the Local Government Financial Settlement has generally been well received, we need a long term sustainable settlement. Key to this will be Fair Funding and Business Rates retention (on which the Government is consulting) and the Spending Review. We need to ensure that all of these enable councils to deliver the services our residents need.

Key themes within this are that changes should be evidence based and recognise the changes to cost drivers, in particular the much greater burden of adults and children’s services compared to when the current formulas were derived. They should also incentivise councils to promote growth and reward prevention. There also needs to be recognition of the wider impact that councils can have. For instance, good housing, strong communities and support services can significantly reduce demand on the NHS.

While Fair Funding will focus on the share of the cake, the Spending Review is all about getting a bigger cake. However, there is also the issue of looking at those areas where local government faces perverse incentives and unnecessary bureaucracy. Deprivation of Liberty is an example of the latter and I was pleased that, following LGA lobbying, the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, was recently introduced in Parliament, providing an opportunity to secure better outcomes and reduce burdens on councils.

There are also many areas where one part of Government is incentivised to place additional burdens on local government. For instance, when academies permanently exclude pupils councils pick up the bill, which is often far higher than had the pupil remained with additional support. We are collating similar examples to lobby for change - please email any suggestions to lgaconservatives@local.gov.uk

On a separate note, the LGA is in the process of evaluating its 2016-2020 Improvement Programme and has published the interim results. I am delighted that 96 per cent of council leaders believe that the LGA has had a positive impact on their council. Since 2011, councils have contributed more than 17,000 days of senior councillor and officer time to peer challenges, which is an outstanding achievement. This demonstrates that by working collaboratively as a sector we can help each other to improve and develop. Finally, I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the CCA Conference next month where the LGA Conservative Group will be sponsoring a number of sessions.

Conservative Group Lead Members activities

Our Group Leader, Group Executive and Conservative members of the various LGA governance bodies take time out of their busy schedules to meet with Ministers and key policy makers to lobby on your behalf. Here are some of their recent activities over the last month:

  • Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the Improvement and Innovation Board, met with Rishi Sunak MP, the Minister for Local Government.
  • Cllr James Jamieson has met with the MHCLG ministerial team regularly over the past month.
  • Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee and held several follow-up meetings with Home Office Ministers and officials regarding the ongoing impact of asylum policy on local budgets.
  • Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Community Wellbeing Board, gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry into the NHS long term plan.

LGA Conservative Group briefing seminars The LGA Conservative Group, in conjunction with the CCA, is organising a series of political briefing seminars across the country. The next seminars will be held on:

1 February 2019 in Devon programme

28 February 2019 in Kent programme

If you would like to register for either of these seminars, or have any questions, please contact us.

LGA Conservative Group 'Be a Councillor' programme: funding available

Increasing the pool of talent from which councillors are elected is a key task for local government. We need different kinds of people who are willing to stand for election so that parties get a choice of quality candidates: individuals who have a commitment to local people and a passion for change.

It is for this reason that the LGA runs its ‘Be a Councillor’ campaign.

The campaign has two elements: a corporate, cross-party strand which is run by the LGA’s Leadership and Localism team, and a party political strand which is run individually by the LGA’s political groups.

With the May local elections fast approaching, the LGA Conservative Group is keen to offer you any help that you may need in terms of candidate selection or training selected candidates. We always aim to be as bespoke as possible . Examples of previous support include:

financial support for introductory events for people who are interested in becoming a councillor – for example, a coffee morning or informal drinks reception

formal training in group sessions for people who have been selected – for example, on the role of the councillor, legal aspects of the campaign, dealing with the media, etc.

Supporting groups/associations who are having trouble attracting candidates or who would like to attract a more diverse range of candidates (for example, via targeted letters to Conservative pledges, Facebook advertising or advertising in local newspapers). If any of the above would be helpful to you, or indeed if you think we could help in another way, please do let us know at lgaconservatives@local.gov.uk.

CCA Conference

The CCA’s Local Government Conference is taking place from the 22-23 February 2019 at the Oxford Belfry. This is a great opportunity for councillors to come together and discuss policy ideas, network and get motivated ahead of May’s elections. Speakers include the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP and other members of the MHCLG Ministerial Team, the Party Chairman, Brandon Lewis MP, and Darren Mott, Director of Campaigning at CCHQ. To book your place quickly and easily, please visit the dedicated conference website. If you have any queries please email the CCA or call them on 0207 984 8144.

LGA NHSCC Annual Summit

The LGA’s Annual Summit for Political and Clinical Leaders in Health and Care takes place on 27 February 2019. Co-delivered with NHS Clinical Commissioners, the target audience is elected members with a leading role in care, health and wellbeing, and clinical commissioning group chairs. For further details, including the programme and how to book, please visit the LGA’s website.

LGA Leadership Essentials: Fire and Rescue

The LGA is running a Fire Leadership Essentials Course which is designed to provide support to members in a leadership role in a fire and rescue authority. This will provide networking opportunities, the chance to discuss key issues, explore case studies and share ideas. The course will take place on the 26-27 February 2019 at the Warwick University Conference Centre. 

Masterclass on digital and data for elected member

This event is for elected members who are working on, and keen to maximise, the opportunities of digital approaches and data exploitation in their authorities. Speakers will talk about their own experiences, and the programme includes sessions on how councillors can create the conditions in which suitable innovations are able to succeed. 

Cyber Security Funded Programme

The LGA is holding regional briefings for elected members who are working on, and keen to maximise, the opportunities of digital approaches and data exploitation in their authorities. For more information, including how to book, please see the below links:

Be part of the LGA's Innovation Zone

Does your council use creative ideas to tackle local issues? If so, you could be part of the LGA’s 2019 Innovation Zone – a vibrant, creative space and programme within the LGA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition (2-4 July 2019, Bournemouth). This year’s Innovation Zone will focus on the idea of ‘Taking the plunge’, and the LGA is looking for brave, innovative ideas that have paid off from councils that have not been afraid to try new approaches.

LGA Councillors' Forum

The LGA holds a regular Councillors' Forum. This is a cross-party meeting which discusses topical issues related to local government. Download the agendas for the meeting. In addition, the Conservative Group holds a political meeting before the Councillors' Forum where we often welcome MHCLG and other Government Ministers. These meetings provide an opportunity to discuss important political issues in closed session. All Conservative councillors are welcome to attend the Councillors' Forum and the group meetings. If you wish to do so please email lgaconservatives@local.gov.uk or call us on 020 7664 3264. The next Councillors' Forum will take place on Thursday 7 March 2019, with the Conservative Group meeting starting at 11am.