Group bulletin: 22 July 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

22 July 2022


Greetings Councillors!

This week we saw the hottest day in our country’s history, and there is evidence that we should be expecting many more. In my area, all the trains were cancelled on the East Coast, we saw tarmac melting, crops perishing, waterways low, our river life dying and our wildlife silent. The High Court has ordered the government to outline exactly how its net zero policies will achieve its emissions targets, after a legal challenge from environmental groups.

With the race for the next Conservative Prime Minister down to the last two, what key asks do you think we should have for the new Prime Minister. How about these for starters?

  • Secure finance and genuine devolution of powers to our councils, without centralising local power into fewer hands. All too often, the Government seems to be over-enthusiastic for new mayoral authorities and the centralisation of power in regional executives
  • Genuinely tackling climate change including fuller finance for retrofitting homes, clean water in rivers and seas and a gain in nature.
  • Removing planning pressure to build houses when we don’t match infrastructure and services and natural resources. While the latest amendments to the Planning Reforms are welcome, more needs to be done to ensure all developments are environmentally sustainable and appropriate for the areas in which they are built.
  • Councils to take back control of “right to buy” decisions and keep the funding. The Independent Group recognises that the need for social housing varies considerably between areas and a further diminishing of housing stock with no council veto risks increasing poverty and widening inequality.
  • Support a healthy economy, healthy communities and healthy environment.
  • Make Votes Matter to respect diversity – The unfortunate passage of the Elections Bill last year, potentially disenfranchising millions of low-income voters, must not hinder our promotion of electoral reform and greater participation in the voting process by all. This week, I attended an event from “Make Votes matter”, seeking to influence the candidates to speak up on powerful issues during the campaign.

Call for evidence on climate change action

I represented the LGA at a recent Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) event in Bologna on climate change and there was a strong message that, as a sector, we can share good practice on what can be done by local government and learn from each other. If you have any good practice stories or tools you would like to share internationally, CEMR will be publishing these on their Best Practices page. Best practices include actions by municipalities, counties, regions or associations, and can cover almost any topic, such as territorial development, climate action or gender equality. To contribute, please send your examples to Craig Willy ( Best practices articles can be short and simple, as seen in these two stories we have already published on Amsterdam's Denim Deal and on the Association of Polish Cities' long-term planning to host Ukrainian refugees.

Both our Group and the LGA also collect and share good practice case studies, so please do share with us how you are working locally to reduce our carbon emissions.


The LGA has also produced an LGA Climate Change Sector Support Programme:  Regional Retrofit Action Plan Training for officers of all levels, so do let your council officers know that this programme will support them with developing the tools, skills, opportunities and capabilities required to help grow the retrofit sector in their region. Of course – well insulated homes can also stay cooler in the summer as well as warmer in the winters, so the imperative to support our communities to improve the energy efficiency of their homes increases all the time.

A cross-party meeting with Lord Callanan, responsible for the retrofit and insulation grants, has led to the promise of more money to come for local councils and housing associations. Is your Council ready with the data? Although the current grants have many strings attached, making them hard to access and leading to underspends, and he did agree to allow us to contribute to getting that right. Information on past successful local authority funding bids can be found on the website for Home Energy Performance Retrofit: funding for local authorities and housing associations to help improve the energy performance of homes.

Rising cost pressures

At the LGA Board and LGA Executive Advisory Board meetings this week, we heard more about the growing financial and service pressures. LGA analysis suggests cost pressures are £2.4 billion higher in 2022/23 than they were when councils were planning their 2022/23 budgets in autumn last year. There is also a funding gap of £4.5 billion in 2024/25.

Increase to the National Living Wage (NLW)

The forecasted increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) could cost councils at least £400 million over the next two years. We are calling on Government support to cover the cost to ensure that councils are not in a position where they must cut services.


I have continued to represent the LGA and our group in discussions with Lord Harrington on the need to support those arriving from Ukraine. It was as a result of LGA lobbying that the Prime Minister agreed in PMQs that those arriving on the Family Visa scheme should have parity with those arriving via the Sponsorship scheme – and we hope that the funding and access to data would follow this. With the resignation of the Prime Minister we need to ensure that this promise is kept by his successor.

Unaccompanied children arrivals

The Homes for Ukraine scheme will now begin processing existing applications from children under 18 not travelling with or joining their parent or legal guardian. I and the LGA have stressed the need for guidance to clarify the legal framework and roles and responsibilities of councils, sponsors and parents; with particular concerns when children come to stay with adults they don’t know or don’t know well.

Asylum hotels

One of the concerns raised at our regular Monday Council Leaders meeting was the issue of Asylum hotels and community cohesion, particularly for those who have arrived from Afghanistan. A formal consultation is ongoing with each region to develop a regional plan for a more equitable approach to asylum dispersal and a refusals policy in the Afghan schemes. There are currently over 65,000 asylum seekers in hotel accommodation and 12,000 Afghans in “bridging” hotels waiting for settled accommodation.

The LGA has a useful network for officials to share practice and solutions around facing issues of extremism as a result of asylum accommodation, which meets roughly quarterly to look at extremist activity across the country and to hear from expert academics and researchers (which has been very useful for horizon scanning), about what they’re seeing on the ground, and sharing approaches in responding. The network also has a tackling asylum seeker refugee and migrant hate crime Knowledge Hub for sharing resources.

Independent Group Conference

Our annual Independent Group conference will be held on Friday 28 October at the LGA offices in London! We will have a great day of really interesting debate and presentations. Our sign up will be available shortly, and in the meantime please clear the date in your diary!

Next Generation

The Independent Group Next Generation application form is now available for anyone interested in joining this very well-regarded programme. Please do sign up yourself or encourage colleagues to. The Next Generation programme aims to support talented councillors to reach their potential. It gives participants the opportunity to build on the experiences and skills that they have gained both within local politics and their own personal lives and helps them to support their local communities more effectively.

LGA events, webinars and seminars

Just a reminder that the LGA holds a broad selection of informative and useful events for all our councillors. Some are free, and some come at a cost. Coming up there is Health and Wellbeing in the Integrated Care System: Political Leadership Masterclass, an introduction to local government finance, the annual LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference and the National Annual Children and Adult  Services Conference (NCASC).

Thank Yous

As we move towards a new political cycle at the LGA, I’d like to thank all of you who have been serving on the LGA Executive and the LGA Boards and have come to the end of your terms. The contributions that the Independent Group is making to the development of LGA policy is significant. I’d like to offer a particular thanks to Cllr Helen-Anne Smith and Cllr Wayne Davies for their time on the Independent Group Executive, and Cllr Ian Stephens for his work as Chair of the Fire Services Management Committee and Cllr Julian German for his work as vice-chair of the Culture, Tourism and Sport Board.

The Independent Group Executive has made its recommendations for the appointments to the Boards and Executive for 2022 going forwards, and either I or the office will shortly be in touch with those who have expressed an interest.


Wishing you a good weekend,

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