Group bulletin: 10 June 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

10 June 2022



I hope you had a good Jubilee weekend with lots of opportunities to meet and chat with friends, family and residents. I was bowled over by so many well-attended events which I hope others enjoyed as much as I did!

There has been a lot on this week, not least with the meetings of the LGA Board, Councillors Forum, the LGA’s Executive Advisory Board and our own Independent Group Executive, so we have a bumper bulletin this week!

Affordable housing and right to buy

Thursday’s announcement that all affordable housing will be subject to the right to buy is very disappointing, especially for the 13.1m people on the waiting list for housing already. With the increases in the cost of living, more people are likely to find it very difficult to afford commercial housing or to find the housing they need.

Impact of rising costs on our councils

The recent Local Government Finance Settlement calculated inflation of less than 2 per cent, when are now expecting 8 per cent. At the LGA, we are reviewing and seeking evidence from councils on the impact of rising costs on councils, particularly the impact of the increase in the national living wage with the knock-on costs on other salaries and on our contractors, and the impact of rising fuel costs. We would very much welcome any information you can make available to the LGA to allow us to make a robust case on these issues. If you are considering local press releases on the issue and can share that information with the LGA, that would also be welcomed.

Child Refugees from Ukraine

With the terrible war continuing in Ukraine, we are unsurprisingly seeing unaccompanied child refugees arriving in the country, even though the current schemes are not set up to facilitate this. I and the other Group Leaders met this week with Lord Harrington to look how unaccompanied children under the age of 18 could be allowed to come into the country through the Sponsorship arrangement, which would require parental permission and visas, modelling on the current private fostering arrangements.

Civility in public life

Alongside the other Group Leaders, this week I met with Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Kemi Badenoch MP. She is joining me at the LGA Annual Conference to speak on civility in public life and has agreed to my request to work closely with the LGA on a joint task group on addressing the intimidation and abuse of councillors. We also discussed this issue with a focus on councillor safety at the LGA Executive Advisory Board, including looking at calling for legislative clarity that members can withhold their home address if they wish.

Auditors get cold feet

The IDeA also supports the audit service provided to our councils.  There has been a court case that means some auditors do not want to take the responsibility of signing off council accounts with an unqualified opinion. The case found that the valuation of the infrastructure assets such as council houses was not sound. The National Audit Office and CIPFA are now working out how to annually value assets such as roads, or perhaps treat them separately. They have an urgent consultation on the Code of Practice – Infrastructure Assets, that closes Tuesday 14 June.

Council motions to protect our oceans and local rivers

Cllr Emily O’Brien, Independent Deputy Chair on the LGA’s People and Places Board and Lewes District Councillor, has pioneered a motion that was accepted unanimously by her council to protect our local rivers and sea by taking into account the cumulative impact of sewage discharge, requiring water companies and developers to quantify and report on the issue. The LGA has also received a motion for the ocean, calling for a greater emphasis on the protection of the ocean to mitigate climate change.

LGA resources on Digital, UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and Levelling Up

The LGA continues to develop support for councils on key issues, most recently including Digital Support, UKSPF and Levelling Up. We are very pleased that the LGA has seen an increase in funding from Government for its extensive work supporting councils. This includes LGA Corporate Peer reviews, mentoring, training, leadership support, etc. 

New legislation and consultations

This year’s Queen’s Speech contained 108 bills for the year, with 13 bills being laid in the first week alone. As the voice of local government, it is important that the LGA is vociferous with solid evidence that enables us to lobby on behalf of our members. We are submitting evidence on:

Schools Bill, Committee Stage, House of Lords, 8 June 2022

Renters Reform Bill/Social Housing Regulation Bill

SEND review: right support, right place, right time – LGA response and position on SEND

Want to do more nationally and with the LGA?

Want to influence what the LGA does and influence national policy? What to have your say on the priorities of the Independent Group? We have opened expressions of interest for appointments to the LGA Governance Bodies, including the LGA Boards, the Independent Group Executive and our think tanks. Our Independent Group Executive will be looking at these after the LGA AGM in July, ready for September. There is also the opportunity to get stuck in on important issues by joining the policy think tanks that suit your interests and expertise.

LGA Annual Conference, Harrogate 28-30 June 2022

I am looking forward to seeing you at the LGA’s annual conference this year, the first we have been able to spend in person for two years. It is free to attend the conference on Tuesday 28 June for the Independent Group AGM, the LGA’s General Assembly as well as the Independent Group’s Annual Dinner in the evening!

If you are looking for accommodation, many of our Independent Members are staying at the Hilton Leeds City Hotel, Neville Street, LS1 4BX. This is half an hour to Harrogate by train. 

As well as our free Independent Group Annual Dinner on the Tuesday evening, we will be organising gatherings on the Monday and Wednesday evenings as well if you would like to join us.  


Wishing you all the very best and looking forward to seeing you soon.

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