Group bulletin: 11 February 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

11 February 2022


Greetings Colleagues,

Following the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper last week, the Independent Group was very lucky to be the first group to have access to the LGA Policy team at our timely and well-attended 'Spotlight On' virtual event on Monday. The LGA published a briefing on the Levelling Up White Paper and will be launching its own Levelling Up Local Inquiry. There is concern that counties invited to negotiate deals could find democratic representation reduced to a single pair of hands. Current elected mayors still have councils within their areas, so nothing as all-encompassing as a 'county deal' with a governor. Many Independent Group members work without a party whip because we prefer a more inclusive, collaborative approach to power. Early discussions within your council are likely to be important, as many will now be considering next steps.

Another Independent Group 'Spotlight On' event on Tuesday covered the new permitted development rights that allow business premises to be changed to dwellings without the checks and balances of the planning process. This unravelling of planning controls can lead to a haphazard change in the character of high streets and unsustainable out of town centres. The Town and Country Planning Authority presented on the 'Healthy Homes' campaign which has already been adopted by some councils as a means of making sure that dwellings are of a reasonable standard.

The final local government finance settlement was announced this week, just before we settle our council budgets. The one-year settlement includes extra funding for increased access to subsidised care for adults, but does not tackle the fundamental concerns about resourcing the services we already provide. As you know, we at the LGA have worked hard to negotiate the best settlement we can, based on the evidence we gathered to show the costs and needs provided from our councils. The Government has based calculations on the assumption that every council would raise Council Tax by the maximum allowed without a referendum. Without raising tax, your council is likely to be short this year and in future years.

The public health grant was also announced, offering no real-term increase in funding, despite their value shown during this pandemic.

We also saw the launch of the Government policy paper on health and social care integration.

Within the group this week, we were well represented on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board, covering impacts and calls for improvement on the Health and Care Bill, Integrated Care Partnerships, reforming the Mental Health Act and vaccinations. We also met to start planning the programme our Independent Group Climate Change Conference which will be on Friday 18 March, for which earlybird registration is now open.

Huge thanks to all our members doing a great job in every corner of England and Wales. Thanks also to those who have found time to engage in helping the LGA to shape policy, drawing on understanding and knowledge on the ground to be clear on how to improve life for all our residents now and in the long term. Drawing together in our group, and then cross party, on LGA boards – to call for real action from Government, the public and indeed, a groundswell from our own councils, makes a powerful voice. Thank you.

LGA National Census of Local Authority Councillors 2022

You should have received a final reminder for the 2022 LGA Councillor Census. The deadline for response is midnight on Sunday 13 February. If you cannot find your personal invitation link, you can use the general link to the LGA National Census of Local Authority Councillors 2022. If you have any questions regarding the Census, please email Stephen Richards at

Landscapes review – ministerial roundtable

On 15 January, the Government published a response to the 2019 Landscapes Review. Having reflected on the review’s findings, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), have published a response setting out that they believe that our National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) should have an even larger role in four key areas of today’s society: nature, climate, people and place. The response is accompanied by a Landscapes Review consultation that will run for 12 weeks until Saturday 9 April. During this period, Defra are keen to hear the views of councillors as to how the proposals would affect their local authority and constituents, particularly those members who sit on National Park Authorities. There are 12 places available at a ministerial roundtable, chaired by Lord Benyon, to discuss these issues between 10am and 11am on 23 February. Please email by 14 February if you would like to represent your authority at this roundtable.

Selected events that may interest you

Personal safety for councillors | Wednesday 16 February, 6–7pm

This event will provide an overview of personal safety as it applies to councillors' everyday activities, including risk assessment and practical strategies for safe working.

Digital self-defence and self-care workshop | Monday 21 February, 1–2pm

ElectHer are hosting an event for women and non-binary people, alongside Glitch, an award-winning UK charity ending online abuse and championing digital citizenship.

Adapting to climate change – engaging with Government on policy implementation | Wednesday 23 February, 10.30am–12pm

The LGA is hosting a webinar, with Defra’s Environmental Strategy Directorate and Local Partnerships, giving councils the opportunity to engage with government officials on the implementation of climate change adaptation policy. You will hear about the work of the Local Adaptation Advisory Panel, the Adaptation Toolkit developed by Local Partnerships and much more.

Levelling up the nation and our communities | Wednesday 23 February 2022, 12–1.15pm

This event is hosted by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Speakers:

  • Ailbhe McNabola, Director of Policy and Communications at Power to Change
  • Will Tanner, Director at Onward.

Afghan relocation and resettlement | Thursday 24 February, 9.50–10.45am

This webinar will cover an update on the Afghan resettlement schemes and the vital role councils are playing in making sure that Afghan arrivals receive the support they need to settle and rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and successfully integrate into local communities. The session will include an opportunity to ask questions about the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) and support for British nationals and their families.

Working together to make communities safer | Wednesday 30 March, 12–1.15pm

This event is hosted by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Speakers:

  • Councillor John Gili-Ross, Chair of the National Police Fire and Crime Panel and Vice-Chair of the Essex Association of Local Councils
  • Caroline Henry, Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire.


With best wishes,

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