Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 17 January 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

17 January 2020


Good Afternoon All!

I hope you are well and enjoying the longer days at last.

Local Government Finances

This week we’ve finalised our response to the government’s local government settlement and continued our work to inform the next spending round.

Overall we were happy with the settlement, announced last month, in that it gave us more than we asked for, though it still requires us to raise our council tax by the expected maximum (£2.6bn requested, £3.5bn granted, including council tax rise at 2% plus 2% for adult care.)  We also asked and got agreement that councils who are already below receiving any money from central government, continue to be neutral and not out of pocket. 

The LGA Chairman and Group Leaders had our first ministerial meeting this week, discussing the financial settlement with Luke Hall MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government).

We are now working on the long term funding for adult care. We are seeking clarity on some items, such as the New Homes Bonus legacy and delivery of planned public health funds and working steadily on others, such as the retention of 75% new business rates and fairer funding.

How has the settlement relayed into your Council? As we approach council budget setting time do let the office know if you have good successes that could be usefully shared?

Holocaust Memorial Day

As councils across the country are preparing to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is offering support to councils, including providing advice and publishing free resources online. This year marks the 75thanniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the 25th anniversary of the Bosnia genocide. The theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘Standing Together’, resonates with the work that many of us are doing. Do let us know about anything being organised in your area.

Climate Change 

Our councils are working hard on what we can do to change to improve our impact on the environment. The LGA has collated a list of actions by a hundred councils as a baseline and store of effective ideas. The final version of this work is being signed off by the leadership board next week and will be shared with members ASAP.

As you may know, I represent you on the Council for European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), now calling for ideas to press forward across the whole of European Local Government and in their influence on central government across Europe. They are currently working on a sustainability checklist to help improve their events and actions in a more sustainable way.  If you have any suggestions please let me know.

We also have a global network to bear influence on, through the UCLG, the World Congress of Local Government. We have some powerful tools so please let us share your good practice to multiply our impact, and together, help to create a safer world.

Sharing successes

Our group members tend to be good at knowing our values, which form a great foundation. Our campaigns and motions are useful tools to get change for the better locally and working together, right across our countries. One big win this week, which our group were central to, is the Gambling Commission’s decision to ban gambling businesses from allowing people to use credit cards to gamble. The ban will come into effect from the 14th April which is excellent news.

Have you got a useful motion on any subject that you think is worth sharing to get a bigger impact?

Development Events 

If you can join us in person or online for our information and development seminars, please do. They are always timely and well targeted to our needs. This week’s meeting was on setting the budget and challenging where we’re in opposition. Future meetings are on the climate emergency and electoral law. Find out more on our website and rsvp by emailing the office.

We are also supporting members ahead of future local elections, particularly those taking part in May 2020 and 2021. If you would like to hold a Be a Councillor event to grow your group, inform current members or brainstorm new campaign ideas do get in touch as we have a fund and resources to help.

Wishing you all a good weekend.

Kind regards,

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

Dates for the diary

Information and Development Seminars:

14 February | Climate Emergency: What next? – a specific session for group members following the oversubscribed LGA conference

13 March | Legislation: local government elections - Simon Bell from Knights Solicitors will be running a factual session for members.

All are accessible via video conference and resources will be available afterwards, but the most benefit is garnered in person. I hope to see many of you there. To find out more or book your place please contact the office.

Digital and Data Masterclasses for Councillors

The LGA is hosting a series of events targeted at members who are responsible for digital/data projects in their authority. They focus on a member’s role in enabling successful digital and data projects within their authority – often from the perspective of councillors who have been there:  

The events are free and take place as follows: Manchester (24-Jan), Bristol (31-Jan), Newcastle (7-Feb), London (14-Feb).  Full details and the booking pages.