Group bulletin: 29 July 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

29 July 2022


Greetings Colleagues,

I hope you are all well and like me are looking forward to an August break. Whether you are planning to head abroad, or contribute to the local economy and the environment by staying closer to home, I wish you a happy and restful break.


The battle for Prime Minister now seems set between tax cuts and bigger tax cuts, making it even harder to see how councils will meet their increasing challenges. My own council is still suffering the consequences of the last tax cuts - reducing the highways budget by a third has resulted in some serious and long term maintenance issues.  

The LGA has calculated that cost pressures facing councils are £2.4 billion higher in 2022/23 than they were when we were planning our 2022/23 budgets in autumn last year. There is also a funding gap of £4.5 billion in 2024/25.  Inflation has already risen from 2 percent to double figures based on the Retail Price Index.  The new living wage will remove the bottom ten salary points by 2025, and the 2022 pay increase will clearly significantly exceed the 2 percent that most councils have allowed for. Over the summer period, the LGA - with the support of our returning but temporary Secretary of State Greg Clark MP -  will continue to fight our corner and ensure that the voice of local government is heard loud and clear in Whitehall and Westminster.  


Work is continuing on a number of bids but 183 District Councils have made it clear that this has to be local choice and that we must focus on serving our communities.  Reducing democratic representation is unlikely to do that – and larger wards potentially put our own group members at risk in relation to the larger parties.  Read more on the District Councils’ Network view.


Lord Harrington has worked solidly with us over the past months responding to our suggestions to improve our councils’ abilities to support refugees.  The announcement that refugees can move from the unfunded family scheme to the funded sponsorship scheme is a significant breakthrough, although details are still in the pipeline. As the first arrivals reach the six month mark, and as councils start to process applications from a thousand unaccompanied children looking to join the Homes for Ukraine scheme, we continue to press for guaranteed funding for more than just one year and for additional support to avoid homelessness – both for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees.

LGC Awards

Congratulations to all our Independent Group members whose councils were shortlisted or who walked away with an award last week. Two Green Party cabinet members from York City Council were among the winners for their housing delivery programme – congratulations.  Like those who collect the awards, our members who are backbenchers and opposition members are also key to the success of the council.  From Lincolnshire, three district councils with a good cohort of Independent councillors won the partnership award and my own district council was shortlisted for best Council.  As our group is growing in number and in effectiveness, I am expecting to have many more of our members in the winning teams in future.

I am also impressed to see North Somerset win the Silver Award for carbon literacy, well done Bridget Petty and team! 

Local Partnerships

On the subject of partnership, many of your councils will already have benefitted from support from Local Partnerships – jointly owned by the LGA, the Treasury and the Welsh Government. Local Partnerships recently commissioned the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny to review its governance arrangements to ensure that they are operating in the best interests of the company and its customers in councils and in the wider public sector. We are working to ensure that the voice of local government continues to be well represented on the Board.

LGA Improving Councils

This week I met week with the Independent Group Lead Member Peers and attended the LGA Innovation and Improvement Board, funded by Central Government to improve the work our Councils do with peer assessments, mentoring and support. Thanks to our team of peers who continue to do a great job supporting our councillors and our Councils. Do you know who your Regional Member Peers are?  You can find a list on our Group website or ring the office.

LGA Corporate Peer Challenge

The LGA is undergoing its own Corporate Peer Challenge in November and our self- assessment is just being prepared. Email if you like to contribute, tell us what you think the LGA does well and where should we do more or less?

Getting involved

Last week our Independent Group Executive agreed our appointments to the LGA’s boards and committees and outside bodies for the coming year, starting in September. Huge thanks to everyone who has served over the past year and ensured that the voice of independent councillors and councillors from the smaller political groups is always heard. For those of you continuing or joining one of our boards or committees, as a full member or as a substitute, we look forward to seeing you at the Members’ Briefing Day on 15th September. Our member services team will be sending out diary invitations and details shortly.

If you would like to engage more in the work of the Group and LGA,  then do join one of our policy think tanks. Discussions on line help our board members shape their views in advance of board meetings and to gain cross party support. Huge thanks to the many members already involved in shaping the work of the LGA to better support you and your residents. 

LGA events, webinars and seminars

The LGA holds a broad selection of informative and useful events for all our councillors.  Two important dates for your diary. In what promises to be a lively, informative and exciting event, the Independent Group Annual Conference will be held on Friday 28th October at the LGA offices in London.  Booking details will be sent out shortly.

Join us in Bournemouth on 4-6 July 2023 for the LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition.  The programme will offer a wide range of engaging sessions and speakers covering the most important issues in local government.  Bookings are now open.


Have a really good break, and I look forward to seeing you soon,

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