Group bulletin: 17 December 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

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Greetings colleagues,

I hope you are well and enjoying getting things done before Christmas.

New Head of Independent Group Office

You may remember that Sarah Woodhouse is moving on to other things. We are all sorry to lose such a brilliant officer. Sarah has served us with utmost dedication, skill and natural talent and will be a hard act to follow. Thank you to all who have dropped her a kind note and written in her virtual leaving card or made donations (the link will be live until mid-January). Sarah will be working two days a week in a handover until she leaves us on 27 January. We had a good selection of applicants – whittled down in a two-stage interview process. Thanks to staff, our group's Deputy Chair Hannah Dalton and Treasurer Paul Woodhead. We were unanimous in seeing Abigail Gallop as outstanding for the job and she has been appointed. Abigail will start in January for two days a week to secure a sound handover, and then be in post full time from February.

New book published – 'A manifesto for councillors'

Emeritus Professor Colin Copus has written a new book – 'A manifesto for councillors' – published by the Local Government Information Unit. The manifesto calls for new powers and resources for councillors. Colin would be delighted to receive feedback on the manifesto, so please share any feedback with and we will pass it on.

Ministerial meetings

The year is closing with intense ministerial activity following the provisional local government finance settlement 2022/23, which was announced yesterday. At the same time, we have seen the dash to get vaccinations for everyone aged over 18 years, with the booster that is effective against the Omicron variant making seven out of 10 people immune. We also see that the delay in legislation in two areas – planning and the amalgamated 'levelling up / devolution reorganisation' – which means there is a good opportunity to campaign again. We met with Kemi Badenoch in a roundtable this morning; and Michael Gove ran a webinar this afternoon – he asked us to pass on his congratulations and thanks for the brilliant work you and your councils have done over the past two years.

COVID-19 – can we do more?

As we pass the anniversary of the UK's first COVID-19 vaccinations, Government calculates that 100 million vaccinations have now been given, and 120,000 lives saved. (Not to forget the sad loss of any who may not have been able to access the services they needed.) We are told that take-up of the booster needs a boost, with four million people yet to be vaccinated. Councils are asked to assist in specific ways, especially in finding people who are more likely to suffer. New outreach is sought to find and encourage care staff, different ethnic community groups, and homeless people to get vaccinated. Councils are asked to provide transport, pop-up sites, and volunteer staff to assist; and to contact local community leaders. 'Protect and vaccinate' funding is available for accommodation for, and for vaccinating, rough sleepers, similar to the 'Everyone in' campaign. Asylum-seekers are to be included. The LGA has put in very specific requests for the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF), which is under discussion now.

Booster volunteers

The Government and the NHS are calling for volunteers to support the national booster effort. Even just a few hours volunteering are requested, perhaps with stewarding the queues. Registered staff who can vaccinate are also invited, via the call for volunteers, to support the booster programme. If you get involved, or if you have any examples of our members getting involved, please do share these good news stories with us. View the LGA’s database of COVID-19 vaccine rollout case studies

Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement

Money for councils was announced in the provisional local government finance settlement 2022/23, showing a £1.6 billion increase in the fourth one-year settlement. The Government's figure of a four per cent increase in council funding includes the requirement for every council to increase council tax by the maximum amount. The additional money for transformation of adult and children’s care does not cover the costs of running the current service, which is stretched to breaking point even before the extra requirements to subsidise more people are added. As we all know, we need long-term funding, certainty, and freedoms if we are to deliver decent local services for our communities, tackle the climate emergency, and level up all parts of the country.


You and your council may be responding to the provisional local government finance settlement before 11.45pm on Thursday 13 January 2022 via the Government consultation. We would love you to email your views on the provisional settlement to – this will help us to shape the LGA's response. Please copy our group office email address – – into your email, so that we can ensure that we continue to represent the views of the group.

Local government finance conference | Thursday 13 January, 10am–12.25pm

Our local government finance conference webinar will provide you with the opportunity to raise questions with senior politicians and experts from the sector. We will explore the outcome of the 2021 Spending Review and the 2022/23 provisional local government finance settlement, as well as consider 'what next' for local government finance reform.

Levelling up

After speculation over the levelling up white paper following a ‘leak’ in the media last weekend, we sought advice and received the following official clarification from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). I hope it helps!

Will HM Government mandate elected mayors in future devolution deals?

No. Strong local leadership will be fundamental for all devolution deals. Devolution is at its heart about empowering local residents and ensuring they have a say in decisions affecting them and their communities, and about whether services are being delivered effectively. Whilst high-profile, directly elected individual leaders (such as a mayor) can provide a single point of accountability to local citizens and can act as a champion for their area, we will also consider other governance proposals that increase stability and strengthen local leadership over a sensible geography.

Is HM Government intending to scrap two-tier local government and create a single-tier of local government across the country?

No. There are no plans for top-down re-organisation of local government. Local government reorganisation is not a prerequisite for a 'county deal' and we expect to do 'county deals' with two-tier areas, unitarised areas and areas with a mixture of the two. Reorganisation remains a locally-led avenue available and we believe the local government reorganisation process that Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Somerset are currently going through will help them find appropriate governance as well as delivering other benefits, but it will not be a requirement for a deal.

Planning legislation is on its way

There is significant rethinking in the Cabinet just now, so it is a good time to be feeding in ideas about better ways forward on the environment, planning and local government reorganisation to local MPs and ministers.

Season’s greetings

Many thanks indeed for all your brilliant support of our communities, councils and our country as we work at all levels to get the best for our residents and our planet. Wishing you and your family a peaceful Christmas and a happy and successful 2022.

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