Group bulletin: 01 September 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

01 September 2023


Greetings colleagues! 

Today over a hundred schools were suddenly instructed to close, the day before term. Public buildings built over 40 years of “bubble concrete” collapse when wet, so this may well be the start of another serious building failing for us to deal with. It would be worth asking our own councils how many of our council-owned buildings are built of the same material and when last inspected. Clearly this is going to be a big issue for some time to come. 

As we start our new term, it is a time of turmoil in Government with a general election before the end of next year. There seems to be a flurry of getting outstanding legislation done before facing the doorsteps. We will need to be well prepared on issues so we can be quick and correct in our responses. It also means upping our communication and connections with residents as there will be a lot more coming from the bigger parties in the forthcoming year. Being “Election-ready” also means finding great candidates. How about asking one a fortnight? 

We have all our LGA meetings starting this week, with many big issues to tackle. Some Councils continue to face serious financial shortfalls, and have to explain cuts are the Government’s doing, at the same time as keeping local electoral support by communicating what we are doing well. 

Our members have been leading the battle for cleaner water, in our communities, our Councils and the LGA board. The good news is that Michael Gove MP has promised some assistance, but with a sting in the tail. 

He announced this week that he was lifting the restrictions set by adopted EU legislation, to enable an increase in housing development in areas where there is already excessive water pollution, thus adding to the problem until 2030.  The Chair and the Conservative Group Leader of the DCN immediately welcomed the news to enable a further 100,000 homes. Currently development is inhibited in designated areas, as paying for the necessary treatment makes development not viable. The infrastructure needs to go in first. Then a change of legislation to allow a worsening of the water quality would not be needed.  

Cleaner Air 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is holding a free Local Air Quality conference from 10:30am – 4:00pm on 13 September in Central Hall Westminster. What will the Air Quality Strategy and Environmental Improvement Plan mean for local government in England?  You can register for the event on the website. Full agenda and frequently asked questions.       

Strikes in Councils 

Our Independent members support the National Pay negotiations for Council and teaching staff. In February, we offered a pay increase of £1,925. Unison is continuing negotiations, but Unite has rejected the offer. Their 3,000 members in 23 councils across England and Wales are planning strike action from the first week in September.  

Cyber-attack on the Electoral Commission 

You may have seen the announcement from the Electoral Commission, that their mail and all our electoral registers 2014-2022 were accessed.  This could be dangerous when combined with info off social media. Many of our members will have had correspondence with the commission. Its good to be aware that this information has been accessed and be prepared for possible scams.  

New Children’s Minister 

David Johnston MP of Wantage and Didcot, has been appointed as under-secretary of State for is the new Children’s Minister. The incumbent, Claire Coutinho has become energy secretary in yesterday’s mini government reshuffle. 

Unitary Councils in Financial trouble 

Coventry and Somerset have this week revealed the risks in the extent of their shortfalls in the coming years. If your Council is facing severe adversity, please get in touch with the LGA Independent Group office and Principal Advisor, or with the WLGA for Wales. 

News from the LGA

Seeking councils to host the LG Challenge 2024 

Our LG Challenge programme develops the future leaders of local government while providing valuable consultancy to councils. To find out more about the benefits of hosting a challenge for our 2024 cohort and reaping the benefits of fresh community insights visit our website or contact LG challenge.  

T Levels success continues 

More young people are now choosing T Levels. 2022/23 saw 3,448 students across 10 subject areas, with 90.5 per cent achieving a pass or above. Last year saw 1,029 learners across three subject areas, with 92.2 per cent achieving a pass or above. Find out more about the LGA's T Level Support Programme 

Coronation Living Heritage Fund 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched the Coronation Living Heritage Fund. The fund provides £2.5 million for tree planting, enabling councils to create green spaces as a reminder of the Coronation. 

Corporate parenting – share your case studies 

We’re looking to showcase good practice examples of corporate parenting from our members, supporting both children in care and care leavers. We’re also keen to hear if you are looking at wider support to all those with care experience. If you have a story you’d like to share, please fill out our case study template and email Louise Smith. 

Dates for the Diary! 

UKHSA Cold Weather 2023/24 Preparedness Programme (virtual) 
Thursday 7 September, 10:00am - 12:30pm 

The webinar aims to provide Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) information to health and social care professionals and the voluntary and community sector to enable them to prepare for Cold weather during the winter of 2023/24. 

Reducing waste: how to slim the bin (virtual webinar) 
Thursday 7 September 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm  

Avoiding waste reduces pressure on the environment and saves money on waste disposal. This session will look at what councils can do to lead by example and help businesses and consumers avoid waste. It will feature familiar activities like home composting and pioneering new models of rental and refill. 

Don’t dispose, reuse (virtual webinar) 
Tuesday 12 September 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm  

Can we turn trash into treasure? This webinar will look at the role for reuse in keeping valuable material out of the waste stream. It will showcase creative partnerships between councils and the voluntary sector including reuse shops and repair cafes, and examples of waste being turned into new products. 

Finance without numbers – An introduction to local government finance (daytime session) (virtual event) 
Thursday 14 September 2023, 2.00pm – 3.30pm  

The event will provide an overview of local government finance without any numbers - focussing instead on roles and responsibilities, key terminology and processes.  It will give you an understanding of both what you need to be aware of in your role and what you need to understand about your authority’s role. 

Firefighters’ Pensions Annual Conference – Day 1 (AGM and reception) (in-person event) 
Tuesday 19 September 2023, 4.30pm – 6.30pm | London 

Our popular Firefighters’ Pensions Annual conference is back, our two-day programme allows delegates to network with fellow colleagues and hear the latest news on the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (FPS) from the key stakeholders. 

Firefighters’ Pensions Annual Conference – Day 2 (in-person event) 
Wednesday 20 September 2023, 10.00am – 3.30pm | London 

The LGA is running an ‘election matters’ webinar on the introduction of imprints on digital imprints regime. The event will have presenters from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to introduce the policy background and the Electoral Commission to take attendees through share information about how the new regime will work in practice.  

National Children and Adult Services Conference 2023 
29 November – 1 December | Bournemouth 

The National Children and Adult Services Conference is the annual opportunity for those with an interest in social care, children’s services, education, health and related fields to network with peers and hear the very latest thinking on key policy and improvement agendas. 


Wishing you well in all you do. I am very proud of our members, always determined to support local people and protect our environment. We play an really important role in influencing the thinking in our communities and our councils, helping us all focus on what really matters.  

Thank you! 

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