Group bulletin: 1 December 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

1 December 2021


Dear friends and colleagues,

I hope you are well and keeping safe. Vaccinations continue with 30 per cent of people over the age of 12 having had a third (booster) dose and 80 per cent a second dose. The aim is to keep pace with variants. As local government has a responsibility for public health, it may be that we can be influential and have an important local role in encouraging take-up.


Government decisions on our annual settlements are coming up in the week commencing 13 December. If the finance reforms are delayed again, we would be stuck with a one-year settlement again, making planning much tougher. The levelling-up capital funding offer is about to be laid out in a white paper. There is discussion about decisions being properly based on real data. Like the UK Prosperity Fund, funding needs to be clearly mapped as to where it goes and how it is being monitored. If we are not careful, we may find the levelling-up process pits councils against each other for a relatively small pot. The LGA are clear that the powers and long-term funding need to be devolved to our organisations as they are, without the need to re-organise. This is a message we need to keep reiterating to MPs and ministers in our areas.

Our free data benchmarking tool – LG Inform

LG Inform is the LGA’s free data benchmarking tool. It brings together, in one place, data about English councils and local areas which would otherwise be scattered across multiple government departments and websites. All the data items are regularly updated by the LGA Research and Information Team, so you know you are always looking at the latest publicly available data. Importantly, you can view your council compared to other authorities, to get a sense of how it is performing. As well as individual data items (such as ‘percentage of waste being recycled’ or ‘employment rate’), you can view a wide range of ready-made reports about key themes. Simply select your authority at the top of any report, and it will automatically show you the most up-to-date information for your council area. In particular, the following reports are very popular:

Health and care integration

A white paper on health and social care is expected very shortly. This includes the £5.4 billion from raised National Insurance tax which supports new people having care subsidised but does nothing to tackle the fact that we cannot afford the current system, let alone additions to it. It’s like building on sand. On the new integrated service for health and care, we have pointed to the ease of devolution to the health and wellbeing boards already set up to manage joint funds and 'Better Care', rather than creating yet another body, under a single person responsible. We have pointed out the risks of adding private providers on the decision-making boards, and the risk that it would make it very difficult for councils to step in when and if failures arrive. We await commitment to the social care part of the National Insurance levy being provided to councils. The public pay awards are also in negotiation, so we currently have some big unknowns.

Peer conference

Our recent conference for accredited peers was very useful and there are good resources available for everyone. If you would like to join our peer team please email the office at in the first instance. We are always looking for members who are experienced and knowledgeable in areas such as planning and health, and in leadership roles (whether group, opposition or administration).

Remote meetings

We continue to keep the pressure on the Secretary of State to support remote meetings and local motions. Every piece of press coverage, like this news story from North Norfolk, helps.

Personal safety webinars for councillors

The LGA has launched a series of webinars to help support councillors’ personal safety. The aim of the sessions will be to equip councillors with the best tools to help them be and feel safe while carrying out their duties as a councillor. The sessions will cover principles of personal safety, risk assessment, use of technology, safe approaches to canvassing, visits, surgeries and travelling, alongside how to manage harassment and stalking incidents. The first personal safety for councillors webinar will take place on Wednesday 8 December from 10.30am to 12pm. The session will be introduced by me and presented by Miranda Smythe of The Baikie-Wood Consultancy who has 15 years of experience providing personal safety programmes for councillors.

District and county council networks

Our District Council Network Board executive members met recently, finalising workstreams and priorities. Meanwhile, the County Councils Network (CCN) held its annual conference which was well-attended as always. CCN published several new reports on children’s social care reform, county devolution and investment into climate change.

Candidate School

Our weekly Candidate School programme is going really well and you may like to join in or encourage those standing alongside you to take part.

Next Generation programme

Finally, over the weekend, we held the second module of our Next Generation programme – this time, in person. It was, as always, inspiring to be with such a great cohort and such exceptional facilitators. The Next Generation programme is an excellent opportunity for aspiring leaders, run every year starting in September.

Kind regards,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

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

Portrait photo of Councillor Marianne Overton, Leader of the LGA Independent Group