LGA Conservative Group bulletin – 11 January 2021

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local government association - conservative group

LGA Conservative Group bulletin

11 January 2021


Dear Colleague,

I hope that you managed to get some well-deserved time off and rest during the Christmas break, and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a belated but very Happy New Year.

Since my last newsletter in December we have had a mixture of both good and bad news.

Starting with the positive news, we had the announcement of the trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve. Four and a half years after the referendum, Brexit is now complete and the deal provides much needed certainty for our businesses and residents.

I am sure that you will join with me in congratulating the Prime Minister for delivering on his promise to ‘Get Brexit Done.’

On the 30th December we had the very welcome announcement that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine had been approved for use in the UK. The Government had already ordered 100 million doses of this vaccine and the first patients received their jabs on the 4th January.

Of course, this positive news was overshadowed by the announcement of a new national lockdown on the 4th January. It is clear that the new strain of the virus – which is 50% to 70% more transmissible - combined with the selfish behaviour of a small minority, has caused an exponential growth of Covid cases, resulting in the need for further restrictions.   

Whilst another lockdown was not the start to 2021 that any of us wanted, the approval of a number of different vaccines and their rollout across the country does provide light at the end of the tunnel.

Indeed, at the time of writing this the UK had vaccinated more people than the rest of the Europe combined, and the Government hopes that by the middle of February a first dose will have been offered to everyone in the four top priority groups.

I know that we as Conservative councillors will be doing all that we can support the vaccination programme, and please rest assured that senior LGA Conservative Group colleagues and I are in regular contact with the MHCLG and other Ministerial teams about the support that we can offer.

Equally, we have been clear that the lockdowns will add further pressure to already over-stretched budgets and that the additional financial pressures that councils will face need to be addressed.

Over the past year, we have seen the very best of local government demonstrated every day as we protect residents and businesses and keep services running as normally as possible, and I know that you will continue to do so throughout this new phase.  

Whilst the coming weeks may be difficult, there are genuine reasons to believe that we are entering the final stages of the pandemic. The more that we work together the quicker that we will be able to escape from the restrictions that we have experienced, to varying degrees, over the past year.

Finally, I know that many of you are thinking ahead to the very large set of local elections that are scheduled to take place in May. In the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s statement, the Government has confirmed that it intends for them to take place as scheduled whilst reiterating its commitment to working closely with electoral officers and public health bodies to resolve the logistical challenges and ensure that everyone will be able to cast their vote safely, securely and in a way of their choosing.

Please rest assured that this issue is very much on the radar of the Group leadership – many of whom, myself included, are up for election - and that we are in regular contact with the Ministers about this.  

With best wishes,


Councillor Izzi Seccombe signature

Cllr Izzi Seccombe OBE
Leader, LGA Conservative Group

Councillor Izzi Seccombe


For all the latest news from the LGA Conservative Group please follow us on Twitter at @LGACons

If you’d also like to subscribe to the LGA’s monthly e-bulletin of First Magazine, please visit the dedicated website.

National Lockdown – Government guidance

The Government’s official guidance on what you can and cannot do during the lockdown can be accessed at: National lockdown: Stay at Home - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Local Government Finance Settlement

In the week before Christmas, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government published the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2021/22. This includes extra money to meet COVID-19 costs, new funding for adult and children’s social care and for councils with responsibility for services such as homelessness, planning, recycling and refuse collection.

Our On-the-Day Briefing summarised the key announcements and provided an initial LGA view.

Testing guidance

On 6 January, the Government updated the guidance on coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test and how to get tested.

This includes an update to the list of essential workers and those prioritised for testing in England, including border workers, those critical to EU transition and those supporting the operation of transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass.

Business support 

Following the new Lockdown measures, the Government has announced one off top-up grants to closed businesses as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000.

A further £594 million is also available for local authorities and the devolved administrations to support other businesses not eligible for the grants that might be affected by the restrictions. 


The Government has announced £7.5 million funding to tackle loneliness during winter. Support will target sectors that bring people and communities together including the arts, libraries, charities and radio. £3.5 million of this will expand the Reading Well scheme to all public libraries in England and the the Reading Friends programme to more libraries.

Uprating of Election Spending Limits

A Statutory Instrument changing the spending limits for election candidates came into force on 22 December. This changes the limits from £740 per electoral area and 6p per elector to £806 and 7p respectively.

Prior to this, on 3 December, Chloe Smith MP, the Minister of State for the Constitution and Devolution, issued a public statement on campaign spending limits for English local elections.

Webinar: Standing for election and campaigning in a COVID-19 context – 26 January from 2.00pm to 3.30pm

This webinar will provide an opportunity to learn from the experience of local council by-elections that have taken place in Scotland during the pandemic.

The Electoral Commission will also provide an update on their latest guidance and resources and attendees will have the opportunity to pose questions.

To book your place, please register via the LGA's event website, and do feel free to share this information with others to whom it may be relevant. 

Best Practice

We are looking for examples of best practice from Conservative-run councils on a range of activities, including local test and trace schemes, supporting businesses and high streets and helping communities at a neighbourhood level.

The examples highlighted are obviously not exclusive, and please do email us any example that you would like us to highlight.

Conservative Regional Lead Peers

The regional lead peers and the areas they cover are as follows:

Lord Porter of Spalding CBE - National Lead Peer & Regional Lead Peer for the South East

Councillor Paul Middlebrough - Regional Lead Peer for the South West, Hampshire and Isle of Wight

Councillor William Nunn - Regional Lead Peer for the East of England

Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE - Regional Lead Peer for London

Councillor Glen Sanderson JP - Regional Lead Peer for the East Midlands, North East and Yorkshire & Humber

Councillor Mike Wilcox - Regional Lead Peer for the West Midlands and North West.