Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 27 November 2020

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

27 November 2020


Dear colleagues,

Spending Review

This week Rishi Sunak announced the funding for our Councils for next year, called the Spending Review. The LGA and our Independent Group has responded:

‘Our Independent Group members have been very clear in what was needed from the Spending Review, starting with certainty. The Chancellor’s statement of only one year falls short.

‘Announcements on homelessness, the towns fund, supporting victims of domestic abuse and additional support for Councils are welcome, but is not all new money and does not go anything like far enough.

The increased “spending power” promised to councils of 4.5% by 2021/22, will only be achieved by Councils raising their taxes, neither certain or sustainable, and the ‘levelling-up’ should not be a bidding process or require MP sign-off. Councils providing adult care are expected to raise their council tax by 5%, at a time of reducing household incomes.

‘Our council staff have worked to keep the country running and should have been properly recognised, they are now ‘thanked’’ with a pay freeze.

‘The Chancellor also missed an opportunity to recommit to the green agenda, which has to be more than words on the page. Conflicting with recently announced plans for the environment is the continuing policy of “build, build build” and an insistence of pushing a planning policy that creates a developers’ charter. Our world deserves better.’

Wales receives their share, which calculates out at £1.3bn.

Council tiers of restriction announced

On tiering of councils, we call for better engagement with Council Leaders in the decision-making and for clarity in the six criteria used in determining the tier each council is allocated.

The rate of infections have dropped since the current lockdown has started to take effect, but the overall figures are still high in most areas. Only three council areas remain in tier 1, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, both under Independent Leadership, and the Isle of Wight which was previously under Independent leadership. Must be something in the water!

The daily statistics make sad reading. For example, Lincolnshire is large and mainly rural and previously had very low figures, but shot up in some areas. That prompted Lord Cllr Porter to call for separate tier assessment in South Holland, which remains low. I did call for a more nuanced approach to make it easier to justify to residents, but the Government has chosen the County-wide approach. Check on your council area on the Government website

The Government had agreed to make sure councils were better engaged, but failed to do so and imposed the tiers based on 6 criteria. (Infection rate and direction, R rate and hospital capacity.)

The new restrictions for the tiers are also on the Government website. Some councils are calling to move to a lower tier. However in tier 2, businesses who rely on a high attendance to be viable struggle and argue it is almost better to know where you stand and be compensated properly. The council now has discretionary funds from government for up to 70% of proven lost income, but it is a limited pot. It is vital to encourage your local businesses to claim now what they need to stay afloat and to keep people employed.

It remains important to encourage people to remember we can keep ourselves safe by the three simple rules of maintaining our distance, wearing a mask if near others and washing hands properly.

Festive Season

The four nations agreed the new rules of up to three households for five days, plus travel.

Covid Winter Plan

The arrival of the scientific calvalry coming over the hill in the form of the UK-wide vaccination programme starts next month, described in the COVID-19 Winter Plan. The Plan includes £7bn for NHS Test and Trace, taking the total to £22bn. The description of how rapid testing will be rolled out is on page 17. The plan presents a “programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality.” The sections on business support and protecting education are worth a read. We are continuing to press to make sure the funding comes to our councils and not through the LEPs.


All efforts on mass testing in Liverpool got to 25% of the population, so targeting of the roll-out is important. Mass vaccination will probably also need much encouragement for some people. We need a big enough portion of the population to be vaccinated for it to be useful.

Be A councillor

Meanwhile, we continue work on supporting our communities stepping up as restrictions continue.

Please have a look for people who would make good councillors in a seat near you and encourage them to come along to our Be a Councillor event on 10 December 6pm. It will be an uplifting and encouraging event, so please come along! You could also hold local events for your council (Lincolnshire has a regional event on December 11 and 12).

Parliament Project

On White Ribbon day, November 25, to support women against violence, Cllr Sarah Rouse and I were invited to speak at the Parliament Project, encouraging women to stand. You can find more information on the Parliament Project's website.

LGiU and CCLA Cllr Awards

Finally congratulations to all of our members shortlisted for awards, the ceremony took place last night and details of the winners can be found on their website.

Looking forward to seeing you online soon! We have our group’s Christmas social happening on 4 December at 6pm, details for your calendar are: Join Zoom Meeting | Meeting ID: 814 6261 8894 | Passcode: 024425

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


Remember to visit the LGA Events website for details of forthcoming webinars, including sessions on:

2 December 2020Financing Green Ambition – for relevant lead members

4 December 2020 – Marianne speaking at the Civility in Public Life: improving digital citizenship launch

10 December 2020Decarbonisation of Transport – Growing Cycle Use

16 December 2020Tackling Diversity and Sharing Good practice

18 December 2020Communicating diverse communities

7 January 2021Rethinking local government finance – for relevant portfolio holders and scrutiny chairs.