Independent Group Leader's Bulletin 20 December 2019

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

20 December 2019


Dear friends and colleagues,

Keeping you informed: Queens’s Speech
The Queen’s Speech announced 40 bills coming forward on pretty well everything that affects our work with our residents. The prime minister has made a considerable number of promises, including not to raise tax. We shall be working hard to make sure it is not reducing our services to pay for others. There is £33.9 billion for the NHS, but not for adult social care nor for the preventative public health service.

Local government is a vital partner to help deliver its commitment in upgrading areas in investment in infrastructure and services, as well as powers brought to our local authorities. The part of our income tax that is returned for local services and comes unfettered into our budgets has massively reduced. Other pots of money we have negotiated are time-limited. That’s why councils have some substantial risks, especially those with responsibility for growing care needs.

We need both certainty from the Government as well as other reliable sources of income. We look to the 2020 Local Government Finance Settlement to see how much we are getting from next March.

We have not received longer term funding, a fairer method of distribution, nor 100 per cent of the business rates, as promised. Indeed, the prime minister’s increasingly generous exemptions to business rates may cost us dearly.

With Brexit now on 31 January 2020, the work we have done on our joint board with central government ministers has collated the key opportunities and risks that need attention to help our communities and councils. We have also asked for the powers and money from the EU not to be held up in Whitehall or Cardiff, but brought back to our local authorities. This is partly through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, now awaited.

I welcome more money for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND), but have concerns over abolishing no-fault evictions. There are many other causes of homelessness to be addressed. There is more the Government could do to assist councils in creating affordable housing, such as allowing councils to set and to keep their own tenant discounts on the right to buy that damages our ability to provide for residents.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is designed to make it safer for people to report abuse.

The Environment Bill is back and a new Office of Environmental Protection.

The gap is in clarity over the long term funding of adult social care, which is where you and I come in. Can we work up a solution that funds adult social care in the long term and gets cross-party support?

You may well remember the LGA produced an excellent green discussion paper, which attracted responses that were numerous and powerful. It seems we need to step into the breach again and aim to come up with an alternative and further consultations will be out early next year.

Download the LGA's on-the-day briefing on the Queen's Speech

Going zero carbon: your chance to change building regulations
Elsewhere, members might like to contribute to the consultation on the Future Homes consultation (which is open until 7 February). It’s a bit technical, so worth working with your officers on it. Members have written in to highlight the flexibility to require higher standards of energy saving and solar panels, to ensure local authorities can meet their own ambitions to achieve net zero carbon.

Season's Greetings
From all of us in the LGA Office and Leadership team, wishing you a very happy Christmas time, a good break, some fun and good luck through the start of 2020.

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association

Diary dates
17 January 2020
LGA Independent Group Development Seminar on Budget setting.This session will provide an update on the local government finance settlement and top tips for you in proposing and challenging a robust council budget. Contact the office to reserve your place. 

22 January 2020
Now fully booked, the LGA is holding a climate emergency conference. If you would have liked to have attended please do register for the waiting list, as places may become available but it also flags to the team whether there are enough members to warrant running the session again. 

For other LGA events please go to