Structure of the programme

The programme consists of five challenges that take place over the duration of six months, commencing in January or February and rounding up in July and the LGA Annual Conference where the winner is announced.

Each monthly challenge usually takes place over two weekdays. You will therefore need permission from your line manager that they are willing to support you to participate in the programme.

Whilst all the dates will be revealed to you ahead of the programme starting, the location of each challenge is only revealed at the end of the preceding challenge. This is to ensure contestants avoid spending too much time researching and pre-empting the challenge, and to build some extra excitement.

At each challenge, you will be divided into two working teams. You will be given a brief at the beginning of each challenge from the host council and will then have around 24 hours to meet with relevant people, make any necessary site visits, and come up with a strategic proposal in response. You will then present to a panel of senior LGA and council staff and the winning team will be announced at the end of each challenge.

The teams change during the programme so you will have the opportunity to work everyone and experience different perspectives and new ways of working. You will also each take a turn as team leader.

During the third challenge, each contestant will be interviewed by a senior LGA officer to outline their scholarship project proposals.   

At the end of Challenge 5, the four finalists who will be competing at LGA Annual Conference will be revealed. The finalists then have one month to refine their scholarship project proposals to pitch to LGA Annual Conference delegates, and to present to a senior panel on the day which constitutes the final assessment.

After careful deliberation, our panel will decide on a winner, who will then be announced at an awards ceremony in the Annual Conference’s ‘Innovation Zone’ and awarded the £10,000 Bruce-Lockhart Scholarship.

LG Challenge timeline

Contestants announced

First challenge location revealed

January - June
Challenge 1
Challenge 2
Challenge 3 and scholarship proposal interviews
Challenge 4
Challenge 5 and finalists announced

LGA Annual Conference – winner announced


As you move on through the process, you will be marked on the programme competencies by the LGA and council observers who will shadow teams throughout each challenge. Whilst working in teams, it is important to note that you will be marked on an individual basis. However, you will also each receive bonus points if you are on the winning team. These scores are accumulated over the course of five challenges, and will therefore determine the final four contestants who make it to the final at the LGA Annual Conference in July.

Throughout the challenges, you will be marked against the following set of competencies:

- innovation & problem solving
- political awareness
- ability to inspire & motivate others
- business acumen
- communication
- working collaboratively


The LG Challenge is not just about winning, but is a continual development opportunity. We offer one to one feedback at the end of each challenge, as a chance to confidentially reflect, and consider learning opportunities that can be put to use in the next challenge and wider career.


Your commitment
All contestants are expected to work in teams over the course of five challenges, until the final where the four finalists will pitch their own individual projects and proposals to delegates at the LGA’s Annual Conference. Each challenge lasts around two weekdays, and will therefore entail an overnight stay, and possibly a pre-night depending on your location and that of the host council. This will also mean that you will need permission from your line manager before committing to the programme.

If successful, all contestants are committed to attending all five challenges. Contestants may miss one challenge in exceptional circumstances. In such instances, a replacement will be called on to act in their absence to ensure the same number of contestants in each team. Failure to attend one or more challenges will result in being disqualified from the programme.

Mutual respect
Whilst a competition, we believe that the future leaders of local government are those who display an ability to put their views across, whilst valuing and listening to the opinions of others. We also have to be mindful when meeting stakeholders at each challenge that we have a responsibility to act with the host councils’ reputation in mind - and that of the whole sector.

All reasonable travel costs are covered by the LGA and neither you nor your council are expected to pay for the travel, food and accommodation that taking part in the challenge entails.

Logistical arrangements
The logistical arrangements are run by the LGA team, who will ensure that your travel and accommodation is booked in advance of the challenges taking place. You will therefore not be expected to make any travel or accommodation bookings yourself throughout the programme. Leave that with us!

However, challenge timetables are carefully crafted to the minute, so your personal responsibility to punctuality is of the utmost importance.

On the programme
During your time on the programme, you will be regularly in touch with the LGA team. We will outline the logistics of the upcoming challenges, answer any questions you might have and we’ll be with you throughout each of the challenges. We consider ourselves as friendly and very supportive of your LG Challenge experience and development journey.

After the programme
As a participant of the challenge, you are not only given the opportunity to compete and develop your leadership skills, but to also shape the programme for future cohorts. In our pursuit to ensure the programme provides maximum impact for officers and councils, we utilise the insights and suggestions of past contestants and work to continually review and improve the programme in line with their feedback responses.

Additionally, you become part of a strong alumni network, contribute to the yearbook, and use your LG Challenge story to inspire officers to apply. Moreover, previous contestants have raised the profile of the challenge, and have worked to develop challenges for upcoming cohorts within their own respective authorities.