Group bulletin: 30 September 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

30 September 2022


Greetings All!

We’re back in action with a challenging new Government in place that will mean we have work to do to make sure our residents have what they need and our councils can make ends meet. The LGA has set up a useful cost of living hub.

The first two weeks of board meetings in this new political year have set priorities for the year ahead. Each has an online think tank which you may like to join, just by letting the office know.

    • Fire Services Management Committee
    • Resources Board
    • Safer Stronger Communities Board
    • People and Places Board
    • Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board
    • Children and Young People’s Board
    • City Region’s Board

We are also working cross party with counterparts representing the whole of Europe, not just the EU. We shared progress on tackling the cost of living and rural issues. I have been working for some months on an “expert group” looking at reducing energy consumption by 20-30 per cent and reducing costs by implementing a solidarity contribution from fossil energy producing companies. A green day included discussions with the EU commissioners where I also raised cross border issues. Everyone is working hard to get a quick response to the energy crisis. 

Welcome to new entrants to the Next Generation cohort starting shortly. I know our many alumni and colleagues will be wishing them every success. 

    • Rachel Millward
    • Sally Howell
    • Rachel Smith-Lyte
    • Stephanie Nissen
    • Elaine Hills
    • Claire Critchison
    • James Giles
    • Leigh Jamieson
    • Annette Dunning

It is time to seek out candidates ready for the next elections. We run a Be a Councillor programme for any prospective candidates and the LGA has launched new guidance for improving access to local government elected office for disabled people.

There have been some useful announcements on Retro-fitting homes this week, which we will be examining over the next week and we hear Chris Skidmore in his new role will be reviewing the Government’s Net Zero strategy to ensure “the country’s legally-binding net zero 2050 target can be met while also maximising growth, increasing energy security and in a way that is affordable for consumers and businesses”.

Huge thanks for all you do. It is going to be a busy and exciting time as we make increasing electoral gains as the voices of our Independent Group members shines, often in contrast to the Government’s changed direction. 

Leader of the LGA Independent Group, Cllr Marianne Overton MBE, responds to the Government’s mini-budget

In this huge budget change, the new Prime Minister and Cabinet started off their term by the biggest tax-cutting since 1972, abolishing the top rate on income tax and ending the cap on bankers’ bonuses. It is to be paid for by borrowing. Elected by less than 0.2 per cent of the voters, the new Prime Minister has a thin mandate for such significant and risky moves that do not even begin to tackle our big issues, including climate change.

The new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, also reversed the decision to increase corporation tax for the big companies. The windfall tax on energy producing companies to pay for the fuel was withdrawn, leaving us to pick up the bill. More expensive dwellings will now pay less stamp duty and get more tax relief up to £625,000 for some.

Those with the biggest incomes over £155,000 a year will now pay less as any income over £50,270 has the same 40 per cent rate. Those on the lowest incomes will find the system tightening.

The one per cent on national insurance that was going to the NHS and due to be shared with councils for care, is now gone, leaving councils short by about £30 billion a year.

The tax cuts are due to be funded by a huge leap in government borrowing from £72.4 billion to £234.1 billion. That includes £60 billion for the energy package for six months and £45 billion for tax cuts. Borrowing to reduce tax is seen as a very risky strategy, especially with interest rates and inflation both risen significantly.

The package has shocked the financial markets and the value of the pound slumps again. The usual report from the Office of Budget Responsibility on the impact of the proposals is not made public. No forecasts of the impact of the measures are given and no assurance that it adds up.

The Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies said, “The plan seems to be to borrow large sums at increasingly expensive rates, put government debt on an unsustainable rising path and hope that we get better growth.” Two thirds of the tax cuts go to the richest 20 per cent. A huge tax cut for the very rich at a time of national crisis and anxiety is bizarre. 

On Planning

New legislation is being proposed to reduce the impact of local voices in big developments such as rail, roads and energy such as solar farms, turbines, fracking and nuclear waste.

The professional assessments of the impact of proposed developments on the environment are to be scrapped, so the damage any development causes cannot be measured or mitigated. Are we seeing “growth at any cost”? There is no mention of tackling climate change, nor adapting to it.

“Investment Zones” mean local people have less say on planning and local councils will receive less business tax for ten years. We are expecting Government to introduce tax incentives, business rate relief, no stamp duty and the deregulation of planning and environmental safeguards in these areas. It leaves me wondering what the longer term legacy for these sites will be for the next generation to clean up and sort out.

Does Trickle-down Economics work?

Trickle-down economics fails if the wealthy save or spend abroad, both of which they are more able to do. Trickle-down economics was tried unsuccessfully in the 1980’s in the UK and in the USA and a report from the IMF in 2015 found that increasing the economic share of the poor increased growth, while making the rich richer, led to lower growth.


And finally…

Wishing the Green Party the best for their conference in Harrogate this weekend. I look forward to meeting our Green members at the Independent Group drinks reception on Saturday evening.

Remember to sign up to our Independent Group Annual Conference taking place on Friday 28 October in London

Best wishes,