Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 24 April 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

24 April 2020


Dear friends and colleagues, 


The LGA Board met this week with discussions focusing on our support to councils and calls to Government to fund councils for extra costs and loss of income. The previous positive response of £1.6 billion was mainly funding additional costs in social care, where we are seeking parity with the NHS. To help cash flow, the government deferred our payment to them of £2.6 billion business rates.

Last weekend the Secretary of State responded to our calls with an additional £1.6 billion of un-ringfenced funding. It will be important to distribute this differently, with details still pending.

The funds so far have been very important, but not enough to cover the impact on finances our members are reporting, especially for district councils who rely heavily on car parking and leisure centre income. We have echoed our calls for the government to stand by their ‘whatever it takes’ statement and on Saturday Robert Jenrick did reiterate his commitment to ensure councils will get the resources they need to respond to COVID-19. The financial information your councils are sending to Government is crucial to ensure the Treasury have an accurate picture of what’s needed now and for recovery to follow.

Our councillors at work, locally, nationally and internationally

Councils continue to balance their response to COVID-19 with business and usual and this week members have been holding full council meetings. In Sevenoaks, 59 attendees met via Zoom, streamed live on YouTube. Brighton and Hove used Skype for business and all 54 members plus officers were in attendance to debate their core strategy. Ashfield held its remote full council meeting on Zoom while North Kesteven had a cut-down version of Full Council on Teams and streamed live. Elsewhere, planning meetings have also gone ahead. The LGA remote meetings hub explores how to make online meetings work. Please do share your experiences of what’s working.

Earlier in the week our 2020 Next Generation cohort came together for a video chat and yesterday thanked key workers in a series of photos while councils, including my own, did a recorded clap for essential staff. Please share with us on social media as we love to share your posts and photos. You can find us @LGA_Independent.

Our policy think tanks have been particularly busy recently and I encourage you to get involved in these discussions if you have an area of particular interest. They really do help inform policy making. I met with European counterparts this week (on Webbex), working up our shared response the EU Green deal, which will affect us all. Thank you to our Environment think tank members and council leaders who gave me useful comments which I was able to incorporate.  

Useful sources of information 

Finally, are there virtual events you would like the LGA hold while social distancing remains in place? We’ve already put forward suggestions around planning and ensuring our climate is at the heart of any resetting or recovery plans going forward. Let us know if you’d like a webinar on anything else.

Keep safe, keep well. I hope you are able to get some safe daily exercise with air and light. Thank you for your community leadership as a councillor and if you are also one of our essential workers, thank you.

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