LGA Conservative Group bulletin March 2019

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local government association - conservative group

LGA Conservative Group bulletin

March 2019


Dear colleague,

There is no doubt that March has been a busy month politically. With multiple Brexit votes and local election campaigning in full swing, the Spring Statement could have been easily overlooked.

From this Spring Statement, we as a sector can welcome the following announcements:

  • £717 million from the £5.5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, to be used to unlock up to 37,000 homes at sites including Old Oak Common in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and in Cheshire
  • £260 million to be used for the Borderlands Growth Deal
  • 10 cities selected for the competitive Transforming Cities Fund, sharing £60 million of investment to fund 30 new schemes such as bus station upgrades, new cycle lanes and road improvements.

However it is becoming increasingly difficult for councils to plan ahead financially for next year and beyond. Putting the NHS “first in line” with the £34 billion additional funding per year to support the NHS Long Term Plan does not directly result in a better outcome for patients if those patients are suffering with dementia, or are children or elderly members of the public with ongoing issues that are not covered by the NHS; an issue we are all acutely aware of.

The intention to launch a full three-year Spending Review before the recess, to be concluded alongside the Autumn Budget, will be a pivotal moment for local government services.

I therefore want to draw your attention to the LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign, which seeks to influence the 2019 Spending Review. Please do get in touch if there are any particular issues you feel should be raised with the Government or examples we can press within our campaign.

As we all know, with the right funding powers, councils can continue to lead their local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. The more of us involved with this campaign, the louder our voice will be.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe signature

Cllr Izzi Seccombe OBE
LGA Deputy Chairman

Cllr Izzi Seccombe

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 on a regular basis to lobby on your behalf. Here are some of their recent activities over the last month:

  • Cllr James Jamieson attended the Group Leaders Parliamentary Reception to meet with other Conservative Leaders and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government  (MHCLG) Ministerial team.
  • Cllr James Jamieson and Cllr John Fuller (Conservative Vice-Chairman of the Resources Board) met with Rishi Sunak (Minister for Local Government).
  • Cllr James Jamieson met with Kit Malthouse (Minister of State for Housing).
  • Cllr Kevin Bentley (Chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Taskforce) continues to work with James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the impact Brexit will have on councils.
  • Cllr James Jamieson and Cllr Roy Perry (Vice Chairman of the Children and Young People Board) met with Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP (Secretary of State for Education).
  • Lord Porter (LGA Chairman) gave evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Select Committee on modern methods of construction, calling for investment in these methods to make homes manufactured off-site more affordable.

Local government reorganisation

Local government reorganisation is about to be completed in the areas listed below. We would like to thank all the councillors involved in the affected councils for their service, wish those who are seeking election to the new authorities all the best, and hope that those who are not standing for election enjoy a happy retirement from local government.

  • Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council (will become East Suffolk District Council)
  • Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council (will become West Suffolk District Council)
  • West Somerset District Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council (will become Somerset West and Taunton District Council)
  • Poole Borough Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, Christchurch Borough Council and part of Dorset County Council (will become Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council)
  • North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council, Weymouth and Portland District Council, Purbeck District Council, East Dorset District Council and the remainder of Dorset County Council (will become Dorset Council)

Stronger Towns Fund

The Government has launched its £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund that aims to give less prosperous towns the opportunity to boost local growth by creating new jobs, help train local people and boost economic activity. £1 billion of this will be allocated using a needs-based formula and £600 million can be bid for competitively. Local communities will have a say on how this money is spent, and will be able to draw up job-boosting plans for their towns with the support and advice of their Local Enterprise Partnerships.

For more information please look on the Government’s website.

Local Government Finance and 2019 Spending Review Inquiry

The HCLG Committee has announced a new inquiry into local government finance. Ahead of the Spending Review 2019, expected this autumn, the inquiry will consider how effective the existing funding set-up for local government is in providing resources to meet need and demand for local services both now and in the future. The Committee’s work will seek to directly inform government policy towards local government funding in the Spending Review and beyond.

The Committee is inviting submissions about government finance; the deadline for written evidence is Wednesday 17 April. Please do get involved. For more information go to the website.

Children's Services event

The LGA is holding a Children’s Services Commissioning and Procurement event, in Birmingham, on Wednesday 1 May.

This event will focus on engaging with suppliers in a strategic way, methods of recruiting foster carers and encouraging joint work on procurements to save money. If you would like to share best practice or be part of the agenda do get in touch.

Council toolkit

The LGA has developed a toolkit to help councils create the underlying policies, procedures, ethos and environment that encourages and empowers women, parents and carers to become local councillors and take on leadership positions.

CPNI security guide

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has created a guide that contains best practice to help you as a council create an effective risk management strategy, focusing on how you can identify, assess and mitigate threats that may face your council.

Find out more on the CPNI website.

Best practice

The Conservative Group Office is looking for examples of best practice from Conservative-run councils, to feature on our display stand at the LGA Conference.

If you have any notable examples of best practice on any topic that set your council apart, we would love to hear from you.

Please send your examples, with a high resolution photo to illustrate your case study, to penelope.galvin@local.gov.uk

LGA Councillors' Forum

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 6 June 2019, with the Conservative Group meeting starting at 11am.