The voice of local government
Part 1 – About the LGA
The Local Government Association (LGA) is the voice of local government − not just of councils but of local government in its widest sense. This is both our vision and the golden thread that runs throughout this three-year plan.
As the national membership body for local authorities, we provide the bridge between central and local government and we help councils deliver the best services to their local communities.
Our core members are English councils in full membership and Welsh councils in corporate membership through the Welsh LGA. Our Associate members include fire and rescue authorities, fire, police and crime commissioners (PCCs), national parks authorities and town and parish councils through their membership body National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Over the period of this business plan, we intend to strengthen our representation of local government in its widest sense by working more closely with combined authorities and their mayors and with PCCs and police, fire and crime commissioners (PFCCs) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC).
We exist to promote, improve and support local government.
We are politically-led and cross-party and we work to give local government a strong, credible voice with national government and across the political parties. Supported by our team of experts covering every area of local government activity, we influence and set the political agenda on the issues that matter to our members so they can deliver local solutions to national problems.
We know that priorities change and that we need to stay relevant to all our membership. We work across the breadth of local government, drawing in every tier of interest to promote and defend the reputation of the sector, focusing our efforts where we can have real impact.
Our extensive range of improvement programmes are sector-led and peer-based. Using expertise drawn from the sector, we build the capacity of councils to improve, so they can drive sustainable growth, deliver better public services and empower communities.
Part 2 of this business plan sets out our priorities to promote, improve and support local government.
Our business – how we work
Delivering on our ambition to be the voice of local government demands an efficient, well-managed and financially resilient business and a reputation for delivering high quality and value for money. Our internal business priorities are set out in part 3 of this business plan.
LGA group funding 2022/23
- 16 per cent of our funding comes from the subscriptions of our member councils
- 28 per cent of our funding comes from the improvement grant from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)
- 35 per cent of our funding comes from other central government grants and contracts
- 7 per cent of our funding is rental and commercial income from our two central London buildings – 18 Smith Square and Layden House Farringdon
- 5 per cent of our funding comes from our joint ventures – GeoPlace and Local Partnerships
- 8 per cent of our funding comes from our other commercial activities, including our conference and events programme and consultancy services.
All numbers based on 2022/23 LGA group budget.
- 331 of 333 English councils are in full membership of the LGA
- all 22 Welsh councils are in membership through the Welsh LGA
- 31 fire and rescue authorities along with the Essex, Northants, North Yorkshire and Staffordshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners are associate members
- our associate scheme also includes national parks authorities, town and parish councils, fire, police and crime commissioners and other joint arrangements.
Our political leadership
- 450 elected members from across England and Wales are actively involved in the LGA through our boards, committees, forums and task and finish groups
- over the last two years, 161 member peers and 257 officer peers have actively led and supported our peer support activities.
Our boards, committees and task and finish groups lead our work to promote, improve and support local government and ensure that we can speak and act with authority on behalf of our sector.
This business plan frames their work and the work of all the staff who support them.
- The LGA is an unlimited company and the LGA Board is its Board of Directors. The LGA Board sets the strategic direction of the LGA in consultation with the Executive Advisory Board and agrees the annual budget and business plan.
- The eight policy boards and the Improvement and Innovation Board develop our policy lines and steer and oversee our activity in their respective areas, in line with the LGA priorities. The Improvement and Innovation Board also oversees delivery of the LGA’s improvement work in line with our grant funding agreements and contracts.
- Each board has its own work programme and monitors performance against that work programme. The boards present their reports to the Councillors’ Forum every six weeks. A summary of performance is included in the quarterly performance reports to the LGA Board.
Key wins on behalf of local government
Over the period of the last business plan we secured on behalf of councils:
- £4.8 billion of additional grant funding as part of the 2021 Spending Review
- over £10 billion of grant funding to deal with costs arising from COVID-19
- over £155 million in improvement support for councils
- £26 million to speed up Local Land Charges Register transfers.
Over the period of the last business plan:
- 3,500 councillors participated in one or more of our leadership programmes
- over 460 graduates were recruited and placed in councils across England and Wales through the National Graduate Development Programme
- we provided practical support on emerging issues, such as COVID-19 and the resettlement of new arrivals from Syria, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Our influence and engagement
In the 2021/22 parliamentary session we:
- were quoted 592 times in Parliament
- briefed MPs and Peers for 56 parliamentary debates and 39 debates on legislation
- appeared before 30 parliamentary inquiries
- produced 47 written submissions to inquiries to help inform a wide range of recommendations in parliamentary reports.
In the year ending 31 March 2022, we:
- featured 34,979 times in national, trade, regional, broadcast and online media, including 1,510 mentions in national articles – an average of 29 times a week
- secured an average four national media hits a day
- secured 114 interviews on national broadcast media for our lead political spokespeople
- organised 160 events with an overall satisfaction rating of 95 per cent.
What our members say about the LGA
In the 2021 membership perception survey:
- 79 per cent would speak positively about the LGA
- 76 per cent were satisfied with the work of the LGA
- 83 per cent agreed the LGA keeps members informed about its work
- 99 per cent of chief executives, 96 per cent of directors and 91 per cent of council leaders have said our improvement support has resulted in positive impacts for their local authority
- 100 per cent of councils participating in a Corporate Peer Challenge said that the process had a positive impact.
Part 2 – Promoting, improving and supporting local government
Promoting local government
One of the LGA’s key roles is to influence government policy and to shape how that policy is delivered through partnership at the local level.
Our offer to government reflects the significant local leadership role played by local government and the technical expertise that it brings, both in areas of service delivery and more generally across social, economic and environmental themes. We draw on good relationships with ministers and officials but we also build alliances with a range of other stakeholders and, where useful, explain our positions through the media. The scope is very broad and prioritisation is critical to ensuring that we are as effective as possible in our promotion of the sector.
The LGA’s thematic boards lead our policy work and are essential to the prioritisation process. The boards grapple with immediate policy challenges but also engage in forward thinking to ensure that local government is at the forefront of policy development.
Over the next three years, the main thrust of our work will centre on four main themes:
- a sustainable financial future
- stronger local economies, thriving local democracy
- putting people first
- championing climate change and local environments.
We will also continue to respond to unplanned immediate issues that impact on the sector. In the past this has included Grenfell, COVID-19 and the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Improving local government
As the voice of local government, we are committed to supporting local government continuously to improve.
Our sector-led approach is underpinned by the core principles that local government is responsible for its own performance, is accountable locally not nationally and that there is a collective assurance responsibility within the sector as a whole.
Using local government expertise −peers in particular −to provide leadership, challenge and support, we help councils to improve, innovate and deliver positive outcomes for their communities. We provide tools and resources that enable councils to respond to present and emerging challenges and ensure that they have in place the building blocks of what makes a good organisation – a clear vision and set of priorities, strong political and managerial leadership, clear and effective leadership of the place, robust financial planning and capacity to improve.
We will continue to provide improvement support in the following areas:
Governance and finance
Our improvement offer will continue to provide councils with tools to enhance governance and financial resilience, including through effective use of peers and data. It features:
- Our regional support and improvement programme, which uses expert peers and regional support teams to provide councils with a suite of improvement options, including tailored and bespoke offers. Our range of resources and tools includes peer challenge, post-election and bespoke support, and relies on peers to challenge, support and guide councils on specific issues.
- Our peer support, research and data offers, including our award winning LG Inform data platform which provides tools and support to compare and enhance local capabilities and support good and effective governance. We will continue to facilitate sharing of notable practice and innovation across the sector.
- Our financial resilience programme, which helps councils to achieve productivity, efficiency and prioritise how they spend reduced resources.
Support for councillors
Our four political group offices – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent – provide the main route through which we extend our reach to councillors, from back benchers through to council leaders. Working with and through them we will continue to offer advice, support and development opportunities for elected members including:
- political leadership training and development to attract new talent and support councillors to be confident, capable local leaders
- Civility in Public Life programme supporting councils to address abuse and intimidation of councillors and improve standards of political discourse and behaviour in public office.
Support for officers
We will continue to provide training to council officers to increase their skills and improve council capacity including through:
- Highlighting managerial leadership offer to help improve the leadership capacity of local government professionals now and in the future
- National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP), our flagship management development programme, which recruits the brightest and best graduates and places them in councils across the country.
Partners in Care and Health (formerly Care and Health Improvement Programme)
The recently rebranded PCH team is currently tendering for a range of contracts and discussing a small number of direct awards to enable us to continue to support councils and their care and health partners to deliver high quality adult social care and public health. Subject to the outcome of the process, we aim to continue to prioritise:
- delivering the Better Care Fund (tender won)
- improving commissioning, the fair cost of care and shaping the care market
- recruitment and retention in the adult social care market
- digital transformation in social care
- public health.
Children’s Services Improvement programme
Our Children’s Services Improvement programme supports councils to help children, young people and families to achieve the best possible outcomes. We will continue to offer:
- leadership training, networking opportunities, mentoring and coaching for political and corporate leaders with responsibilities for children’s services
- improvement support and diagnostic activity framed around specific themes and issues (including peer challenge)
- Early Years Speech and Language programme.
Other service specific support
We will continue to offer the following service specific programmes:
- climate change programme, to help councils address climate change, adaption and environmental sustainability
- support, advice and training for councils to communicate effectively with residents, media, partners and employees through our communications improvement programme
- culture and sport improvement programme to help councils tackle the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities for culture, tourism and sport
- equality, diversity and inclusion programme, to help councils in reduce inequalities and enhance inclusion and cohesion within their communities.
Supporting local government
As the voice of local government, we offer additional expert technical and professional support that responds to a wide range of issues, challenges and opportunities outside our main improvement programmes. These include a comprehensive workforce offer, specialist legal and communications expertise, support to councils in their role as guardians of place and data and digital support.
Over the next three years we will focus on the following key areas:
Support to the local government workforce
Recruiting and retaining good staff at all levels is central to delivering excellent local services and a thriving local democracy. The cost of living crisis, and its impact on the workforce following years of restricted supply of key professions and reduced competitiveness with other employers, will be an acute challenge in the coming years. Our comprehensive workforce offer involves leadership of national collective bargaining, as well as supporting councils to address capacity and capability issues.
- Lead on national collective bargaining across councils, schools, fire and rescue authorities, police support staff and other related workforces.
- Deliver comprehensive workforce support including workforce planning, officer-member relationships, diversity and equality, and HR/OD reform looking at organisational structures, pay frameworks and employee engagement.
- Provide specialist pensions support, including training courses for councillors and employers; as well as regulatory support from our team of expert advisers.
- Promote national programmes that enhance and support the local government workforce and respond to significant skills shortages, including T Levels and apprenticeship support programmes.
Legal and governance support
The LGA has a proven track record of successful legal action on behalf the sector, costing councils a fraction of the cost and delivering significant benefits. We also provide expert governance support. We will:
- Continue to offer/commission specialist legal support on issues affecting a number of councils – our current priorities are the collective actions on Mastercard/Visa and the trucks cartel.
- Contribute to public inquiries in support of the sector – our current priority is the COVID-19 Inquiry.
Communications and events
Our communications expertise is a core benefit of LGA membership and the work of our communications teams increases our reach and ensures that our voice is heard both within and far beyond our sector. We will continue to offer:
- A comprehensive programme of free and paid for events. These will either be in-person, hybrid or via a virtual platform and will include an average 30 per cent discount to members councils for paid for events.
- Emergency media support to member councils on a 24/7 basis.
- Daily updates from the national and broadcast media on coverage that relates to local government and LGA media releases.
- LGA Communications and Parliamentary Network, providing public affairs and communications insights through bulletins, events and support.
- Media relations activity promoting member council good practice and case studies to promote and defend the reputation of local government as well as lobbying, campaigns and improvement work by the LGA on behalf of member councils.
- First magazine – our monthly publication that promotes good practice and highlights the LGA’s work to over 18,000 councillors.
Supporting local people and places
Councils are the guardians of place. Our range of placed-based programmes are designed to support councils in that role. We will continue to offer a range of practical and technical support, including:
- The Behavioural Insights programme, which supports councils to encourage behavioural change amongst local communities to improve outcomes and reduce demand on public services.
- Practical and technical support to locally-led public sector partnerships to make the best use of their land and buildings through One Public Estate (OPE).
- Advice, support and training on planning and service delivery through the Planning Advisory Service.
- Levelling up and devolution support to help councils lead their place-shaping ambitions and enable further devolution.
- Economic growth support on all aspects of councils’ economic development plans, including employment, re-skilling, high streets, SME support and business retention.
- Procurement and commissioning support, to help councils add value and deliver better outcomes for local people through our supply chains.
- Housing and building safety support to help councils seeking to innovate in meeting the housing needs of their communities and ensure all homes are safe.
- Support for councils to take action against private owners of blocks with combustible cladding and make them safe through the Joint Inspection Team.
- Support for fire authorities and National Employers to conduct collective bargaining, implement workforce requirements relating to fire reform and deliver effective services for local communities. The LGA will also continue its role as the secretariat for the NJCs for firefighters, middle managers and brigade managers.
Data and digital
Effective management of data and digital systems is central to the delivery of excellent public services and to a thriving local democracy but increasingly cyber security presents one of the biggest threats. We will support councils through the following key programmes:
Part 3 – Our business: how we work
Delivering on our ambition to be the voice of local government demands an efficient, well-managed and financially resilient business and a reputation for delivering high quality and value for money.
Our staff and members are central to that ambition. The leadership of our elected members, the technical expertise of our staff and our ability to speak on behalf of local government are our unique selling points.
Our four political groups provide the main route through which we extend our reach to councillors from every member council and into the wider local government sector.
We actively seek feedback from our member authorities so we can prioritise those issues that are most important to them and we rapidly reprioritise when circumstances demand.
Equalities, diversity and inclusion and action to tackle climate change and minimise the negative impact of our activities are central to the way that we manage our business.
Our values underpin all our work:
Inclusive − we ensure that our work is inclusive of all voices.
Ambitious − we are ambitious for councils and their communities and are committed to striving for excellence in all that we do to support our colleagues, our membership and the sector to deliver the best possible outcomes.
Collaborative −we bring together the expertise and skills needed, working as one team.
Over the next three years our organisational priorities will be:
Strengthening our voice
The closer we work across the sector, the stronger our voice on behalf of local government. We will:
- Maintain membership levels amongst councils in England and Wales by keeping subscriptions affordable, offering value for money and continuing to offer membership benefits that meet their changing needs and expectations.
- Engage more fully with combined authorities and their elected mayors and with PCCs and PFCCs and their representative arrangements and maintain and develop our relationship with NALC on the issues where the interests of our members align.
- Deliver communications that reflect the issues that matter to councils, their residents and their communities – and that have the most impact.
- Offer a range of virtual and hybrid events and meetings to encourage member councils actively to participate in and contribute to our work.
- Exploit the full potential of the investment in our CRM system to enhance the delivery of integrated and targeted services to member councils, including a new online membership resource that sets out the benefits of membership.
- Review our approach to the work of our Special Interest Groups to ensure they are fully engaged with the wider LGA.
One politically-led organisation
Our politicians lead our work to promote local government’s priorities and influence the political agenda. We will:
- Provide opportunities for political debate and challenge as part of the process of achieving consensus.
- Ensure that the members who sit on our boards, committees and task and finish groups are properly briefed and supported to deliver their roles so they can focus on the issues where they can make most impact.
- Provide high quality briefings to enable our political leadership to represent local government authoritatively in their engagement with secretaries and ministers of state and their opposition spokespeople and in the national media.
- Provide briefings and advice to our president and parliamentary vice-presidents and other key parliamentarians so they can speak with authority on behalf of the sector.
- Engage with parliamentary proceedings to influence legislation and select committee inquiries and to ensure that local government’s voice is heard in parliamentary debates and questions.
- Influence the national policy agenda through our high-profile media activity, promoting local government’s priorities in national print, online and broadcast media and the trade press.
Financially resilient and ambitious
Our medium-term financial strategy sets the framework for financial resilience and security, including diversifying our sources of income and investigating opportunities for new income streams to provide additional resources to further support our members. We will:
- Complete the Layden House programme and develop a comprehensive strategy for managing and exploiting our property portfolio, including our own occupation of 18 Smith Square and options for future income generation.
- Retender the 18 Smith Square catering contract and other major procurements.
- Launch and embed the revised commercial strategy setting out our approach to identifying and assessing potential funding sources, including an assessment of the costs and benefits to the LGA and to the sector.
- Build the LGA’s bidding capacity and capability, supported by a structured bid development, risk assessment and approval process, with early involvement of legal, finance, HR, property and IT.
- Build on existing income generating and income source diversification successes and ensure they remain resilient and relevant and continue to work closely with all relevant government departments (not just DLUHC), councils and partners to secure funding for improvement programmes and ensure delivery against improvement grant agreements, in support of our sector-led approach.
Efficient business management
Efficient internal systems and processes and excellent IT underpin our work to promote, improve and support local government. We will:
- In conjunction with Brent/Shared Technology Services, deliver the LGA’s ‘ICT road map 2022-25’, which includes retendering our AV contract in 2022 and continuous improvement of our core systems and processes.
- Undertake a comprehensive review of our IT contract, delivered through LGA Digital Services, in 2023 to consider options for future.
- Continue to build awareness of cyber security and enforce secure business processes throughout the LGA.
- Review and develop our own crisis response and business continuity approach.
- Embed the LGA’s new procurement strategy to ensure that all our procurement complies with our EDI policies and contributes towards our net zero ambitions.
Supportive people management
We want the LGA to be a great place to work. We will:
- Deliver the ‘People Plan’, which falls under the following five priority areas:
- Attract, recruit and retain a diverse, skilled and committed workforce whose values and behaviours align with those of the LGA, whilst increasing the diversity of the organisation, particularly at senior levels.
- Develop and support the workforce to help people fulfil their career potential.
- Strengthen employee engagement by valuing and listening to staff whilst creating a workplace that is inclusive, inspiring, diverse, innovative, ambitious, and fulfilling.
- Create and maintain a forward-thinking, collaborative workforce where individuals are supported to achieve a positive work life balance.
- Recognise the contributions that our staff make through their delivery of the LGA’s priorities.
- Deliver the equality, diversity and inclusion strategy and action plan 2021-24.
Committed to a sustainable future
In line with the motions passed by the General Assembly in 2019 and 2021, we keep action to minimise the impacts of climate change at the heart of the way we manage our business. We will:
- Keep our policies and practices under review to ensure that they contribute to combatting the adverse effects of climate change.
- Develop a Green Action Plan setting out our commitment to Net Zero and how we intend to achieve that.
- Based on the green audits carried out in 2020 and 2022, minimise the environmental impact of our two central London buildings.
- Ensure that our main external contracts have environmentally sustainable policies and practices.
- Encourage sustainable travel practices through our flexible working policy, staff and members’ expenses policies and continued participation in national sustainable travel initiatives such as the Cycle to Work scheme.
Our service delivery partnerships
Local Partnerships is a joint venture between the LGA, HM Treasury and the Welsh LGA. Its support to local authorities and the wider public sector is focused on five main areas:
- climate response
- circular economy and resource efficiency
- infrastructure and assets
- complex contracting
- public sector capability and capacity.
GeoPlace is a joint venture between the LGA and Ordnance Survey and is the central source for UK address and streets data. Working with the 355 councils in England and Wales, GeoPlace cleanses and validates the data they produce and creates and maintains national registers of 42.8 million addresses and 1.3 million streets. The data is distributed commercially by Ordnance Survey through the Address Base range of products.
GeoPlace’s strategic objectives are to:
- deliver benefit from the use of spatial addressing and streets data
- create efficiencies and improvements in the public sector and
- provide an operational surplus back to the two partner organisations.
Public Sector Audit Appointments (PSAA)
PSAA is an independent company limited by guarantee and specified as an appointing person under the provisions of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014. PSAA appoints an auditor to relevant local government bodies that opt into its national scheme and sets a scale of fees for the work which auditors undertake.
UK Municipal Bonds Agency plc (UKMBA)
The LGA is a major shareholder in the local government-owned UKMBA, which aims to deliver cheaper debt financing to councils through the sale of bonds in the capital markets. UKMBA works through its managed service provider to aggregate borrowing requirements and issue bonds. The LGA provides support services to the company.
How we measure success
How we communicate this
Chief Executives report to the LGA Board
Board chair’s reports to Councillors’ Forum
Headlines report to SMT and LGA Board
Annual reports, including sector support annual report
Bulletins to council leaders, chief executives, members, council staff and stakeholders
Annual LGA in Parliament reports.