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No.604 October 2016 www.local.gov.uk

the magazine for local government

Interview:

“Thirteen million people in poverty can’t carry on being ignored” Julia Unwin CBE, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

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Skills for future growth ‘Devolve to address local needs’

Hull City of Culture 2017 A bid to benefit the whole city

Parliament: public health False economy of funding cuts


Leading innovation The future of culture, tourism and sport LGA Annual Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference Wednesday 22–Thursday 23 February 2017, Bristol Sustaining valued frontline services during tough times is the critical challenge facing local culture, heritage, tourism and sport services. At this national conference we will look beyond local government to how devolution, changes to local government funding and wider public service reform, could open up new delivery and investment models. We will also take stock of what a new government and negotiations to leave the EU mean locally.

To book your place visit: www.local.gov.uk/events 9.8 LGA first CTS_02.indd 1

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LGA Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition 7-8 March 2017, Hilton Hotel Newcastle Gateshead The LGA’s Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the Home Office’s fire reform programme. Inspection, transparency, workforce, governance, collaboration and the role of Police and Crime Commissioners are all key issues for the fire and rescue sector as we look to the future. Come along to discuss the priorities and challenges facing the sector at this key event.

To book your place visit: www.local.gov.uk/events

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Conference previews

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’m looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham this month. Ahead of the Conservative and Labour conferences, you can read about the LGA Labour Group’s education debate and the issues Conservative councillors will be raising with ministers in this edition of first. Elsewhere in the magazine, we’ve got an update for members on developments in skills and further education, a look ahead to Hate Crime Awareness Week, and commentary from Hull City Council about bidding to be the UK City of Culture 2017. You can also find out more about the LGA’s new executive, which sets the organisation’s strategic direction and has several new members, on p16. The latest local by-elections analysis is on p31. Our interview this month is with Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which recently launched an ambitious strategy to solve poverty by 2030. The strategy is supportive of some of the things the LGA has been lobbying for, including greater powers and freedoms in respect of building more homes. As ever, if you have any ideas for stories or features in first, or letters for publication, please email first@local.gov.uk Lord Porter is Chairman of the LGA

contents news

interview

4 Illegal schools

5 Homelessness

18 Julia Unwin CBE, Chief

Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Foster carers Cycle to work

6

Brexit update Heritage days Green prescriptions Broadband speeds Obesity strategy

“The huge costs facing so many councils are because of high levels of poverty in their areas”

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Editor Karen Thornton Design & print TU ink www.tuink.co.uk Advertising James Pembroke Publishing Write to first: Local Government House, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HZ Email first@local.gov.uk Tel editorial 020 7664 3294 Tel advertising 020 7079 9365 Photography Photofusion, Dreamstime and Ingimage unless otherwise stated Cover and interview Chris Sharp Circulation 18,000 (September 2016) first is published online at www.local.gov.uk/first at least two days before the magazine. To unsubscribe email first@oscar-research.co.uk The inclusion of an advert or insert in first does not imply endorsement by the LGA of any product or service. Contributors’ views are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the LGA.

October 2016

13 features

8 FE and skills 11 Labour conference 12 Conservative conference

13 Flood review 14 Business rates 15 Hate Crime Week 16 LGA Executive

comment 23 Hull City of Culture 2017 24 LGA chairman and group leaders 26 Lincolnshire devolution Parliamentary boundaries 27 Leading on skills 28 Food banks Home improvements

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regulars

7 Letters and sound bites 29 Parliament – public health funding 30 Councillor – European Local Democracy Week 31 Local by-elections

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‘Ban foster carer golden hellos’

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news More powers needed to tackle illegal schools Councils need more powers and funding to protect children amid concerns some home-educated youngsters may in fact be being taught in illegal schools. The LGA wants councils to be able to enter homes and talk to children to check the suitability of the education they are receiving, and to have powers to compel parents to register home-educated children. There also needs to be a clearer definition of a ‘school’ to make it easier for Ofsted or the Department for Education to classify and close down illegal schools when they are uncovered. Figures obtained by the BBC through Freedom of Information requests in December 2015 identified a 65 per cent increase in home-educated children over the last six years, up to almost 37,000 in a school population of around 9.5 million pupils. This significant rise was linked by the Education Secretary and Ofsted to an increase in illegal schools. In some cases, children have been taught in warehouses and old factories, and in facilities with open drains or no running water. Some illegal schools have also been linked to the teaching of extremist views. Giving councils the powers and appropriate funding to check up on children’s schooling

would help make sure they weren’t being taught in dangerous environments, and give councils a better chance of finding and tackling illegal schools. Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The vast majority of parents who home educate their children do a fantastic job, and work well with their local council to make sure that a good education is being provided. “However, in some cases, a child listed as home schooled can, in fact, be attending an illegal school. With limited powers to check on the work a child is doing, however, councils are unable to find out whether this is the case. They work closely with their communities to help identify where illegal schools are, but the ability to enter homes and other premises and speak to children would go a long way towards tackling the problem.” Placing a legal duty on parents to register home-schooled children with their local council would also help to prevent children from ‘disappearing’ from the oversight of services designed to keep them safe – particularly where children have moved to a different area, or have never been in mainstream education.

he LGA has called for a ban on independent fostering agencies using ‘golden hellos’ to entice foster carers away from local authorities, and raised concerns about a small number of independent agencies making substantial profits from fostering. Independent fostering agencies, including commercial, not-for-profit and charity organisations, are a valuable part of the fostering system, helping to make sure that suitable families are available to support children with a diverse range of needs. However, a minority of agencies have been offering local authority foster carers thousands of pounds to switch to their agency, while Sir Martin Narey’s recent review of children’s residential care highlighted that eight commercial fostering agencies made £41 million in profits in 2014/15. As a result of the LGA’s call, at least one independent agency has already agreed to stop using ‘golden hellos’. Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Offering ‘golden hellos’ to entice foster carers away from councils does nothing to increase the number of carers available in our increasingly overstretched system, and nothing to improve the lives of the children and young people who need our help the most. It all too often forces councils to pay higher fees for fostering services, which only serves to cut the amount of money available to help all children. “The fact that just eight commercial fostering agencies can make more than £40 million in profits in one year is completely unacceptable. Profits of that level simply cannot be justified at a time when the public sector is facing enormous financial strain and is having to cut services to make ends meet. “That much money could pay for the care of more than 1,200 of society’s most vulnerable children, or be invested in improved recruitment of, and support for, foster carers.”

Get on your bike!

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ouncils marked September’s Cycle to Work Day with events and information designed to encourage more people to use pedal-power on their daily commutes. Cllr Miriam Lewis (pictured), Leader of Maldon District Council, who suffers with arthritis, set a good example by cycling in from Heybridge on her tricycle. She said: “Cycle to Work Day is a great way to get back into cycling and supports our goal to have an active population with healthy lifestyles. It’s a great activity for older people, even those with arthritis, as it is non-weight bearing and can help to strengthen the leg muscles.”

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www.local.gov.uk


Homelessness: more homes not duties needed Proposed new legislation to tackle homelessness will not work – and what councils really need is to be able to build more homes. The LGA says the Government needs to address the increasing gap between household incomes and rising rents, allowing councils to build more affordable homes. If passed, the Homelessness Reduction Bill, due to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons in October, would impose on councils a raft of new duties, such as providing emergency interim accommodation for up to 56 days for households not in priority need. It would divert resources away from other essential homelessness work, leaving councils less able to support vulnerable people. Councils want to help everyone at risk of homelessness and support those who are homeless into housing as soon as possible but are struggling to deliver due to rising demand, reducing budgets, and falling levels of social housing. The availability of social rented council housing has nearly halved since 1994, dropping from 3.6 million properties to 1.6 million properties in 2016. The Government needs to fully fund existing commitments – and any additional commitments new legislation would incur, according to the LGA. LGA Chairman Lord Porter said: “Simply adding more duties to councils is not the answer to tackling homelessness. The only viable long-term solutions are increasing the

County hall’s heritage day B uckinghamshire’s County Hall celebrated its 50th anniversary this year by throwing its doors open to visitors as part of September’s Heritage Open Days. Visitors were able to tour the Brutalist-style 14-storey office block and see displays about its design and history. Council Chairman Cllr Valerie Letheren (pictured, in yellow), said: “It was a real pleasure to welcome so many people to look around County Hall and I was delighted to see how many came up to the 11th floor to look at the view across our beautiful county.”

October 2016

availability of suitable affordable housing and addressing other underlying causes of homelessness. “Councils want to help everyone at risk of homelessness and to support those who are homeless into accommodation as soon as possible. However, legislation alone will not resolve homelessness – the causes are complex and range from the economic and social to the personal. “The Government’s commitment to more mental health spending is a step in the right direction but it must ensure it reaches the people it is designed to reach. “There is no silver bullet – homelessness is a historical problem which has been inherited by successive governments. “Housebuilding is well below the levels needed to meet current demand. This is pushing more people into the private rented sector and has caused an increase in rents that can make independent living more difficult.” He added: “Social housing is critical if we are to house people who are homeless or at risk. But the availability of social rented council housing has halved since 1994. We’ve got 69,000 people already currently living in temporary accommodation and more than a million extra on council waiting lists. If we are to succeed then we need to address the gaps between household incomes and spiralling rents, and resume our role as a major builder of affordable homes.”

news in brief Brexit update

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GA representatives took part in a series of summer seminars held by the Department for Communities and Local Government to analyse the key issues it faces from Brexit. At these sessions, the LGA raised concerns that local government’s big issues cross government departments, and consequently has provided a high-level analysis to the Department for Exiting the EU. The LGA is also building a hub to ensure local areas have their needs articulated and has called on councils to share information by emailing brexit@local.gov.uk. See www.local. gov.uk/brexit for more information.

Neighbourhood planning

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he Government has listened to local government concerns about privatising the Land Registry, as the proposal was not included in the recently published Neighbourhood Planning Bill. However, the Bill also failed to mention the National Infrastructure Commission, which councils believe would provide much more robust, long-term strategic decision-making on the country’s infrastructure needs. Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing Spokesman, said: “We hope the Government remains fully committed to the need for such a body and one that recognises the vital role of local authorities in delivering infrastructure for a modern economy and all communities.” See www.local. gov.uk/media-releases and p24.

Councils in the news

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t’s been a busy summer for council news stories as the LGA secured more than 400 pieces of news coverage in the national media. Councillors from across the political spectrum took to the airwaves and appeared in print and online to support stories on everything from right to buy and blue badge thefts to cracking down on illegal tattooists. Other stories included a visit by LGA councillors to the Calais camp. Nearly 90 per cent of the coverage was through proactive media work and 89 per cent was positive.

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news in brief Childhood obesity strategy

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he Government has announced a voluntary target for industry to cut sugar in children’s food and drink in its strategy to reduce childhood obesity, published in August. The LGA said it was “disappointed” that the action plan did not include measures councils have pushed for, including a mandatory reduction of sugar in soft drinks, better sugar labelling on food and drink products, and powers for councils to ban junk food advertising near schools. Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils have longwarned that unless we take decisive action, the potential consequences of obesity on people’s health could be devastating and will bankrupt health and social care.” See p29.

Housing win

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he Government is deferring the Local Housing Allowance cap on housing benefit for tenants living in supported accommodation until 2019/20. This comes after the LGA raised concerns over the impact this would have on the sector. Councils will be given ring-fenced funding for supported housing schemes. Lord Porter, LGA Chairman, said: “We are pleased that ministers Lord Freud and Marcus Jones MP have listened to the concerns councils had over the risks of applying the cap to supported accommodation. It would have hit some of our most vulnerable residents and jeopardised many of the supported housing schemes that were due to be developed. While we would normally argue against ring-fencing, in this exceptional case we feel that the prize is very much worth that price.”

‘GPs should prescribe exercise to improve health’ The LGA has called on GPs to prescribe exercise to patients in a bid to get more people doing physical activity. This would follow a similar model to the ‘green prescription’ used by eight out of every ten GPs in New Zealand. A recent survey of patients given green prescriptions in the country found 72 per cent noticed positive changes to their health, 67 per cent improved their diet and more than half (51 per cent) felt stronger and fitter. Rather than just issuing prescriptions for medicines, the LGA says that if GPs in England and Wales wrote down moderate physical activity goals, it would benefit patients who are obese or overweight. These could be outdoor walks, activities in parks, or family exercise classes run by the local council. Some GPs are already taking part in schemes to get patients exercising and enjoying the great outdoors, such as in Dartmoor and Exmoor. Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Not every visit to a GP is necessarily a medical one. By writing formal prescriptions for exercise, it would encourage people to do more physical activity. “There are some instances where rather than prescribing a pill, advising on some type of moderate physical activity outdoors could be far more beneficial to the patient. This could

Broadband speed transparency

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roadband providers should open up their data so people can more easily compare the estimated broadband speed they can receive direct to their home, rather than to their postcode, the LGA has said. At the moment, there is no one place where consumers can compare providers’ estimates of broadband speeds to their home. Instead they can only see postcode estimates giving “up to”

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speeds which can vary significantly from what residents might actually receive, making it much harder to choose the best package. Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “Good digital connectivity is a vital element of everyday life for residents. As central and local government services increasingly become ‘digital by default’, more people will need to have faster and

be going on organised walks, conservation work with a local park group, or gardening. “The green prescription model is something that could help to tackle major health conditions such as obesity and diabetes. There are already some good examples where this is being piloted in the UK, and it is something we should consider on a nationwide basis.” Steven Ward, Executive Director of ukactive, a non-profit organisation promoting exercise whose members include local authority leisure centres, said: “Britain is in the grip of a cradle to grave physical inactivity crisis and the great outdoors is a fantastic gateway for getting people moving again. “Physical activity has been hailed as a miracle cure which can help to treat and prevent more than 20 lifestyle-related diseases and if GPs were to prescribe this it would bring huge benefits to people’s physical and mental health.” Councils, which have responsibility for public health, want to see the measures rolled out nationwide. The latest guidelines for health professionals say that one in four patients would exercise more if advised to do so by a GP or nurse. Research published in the British Medical Journal found that a green prescription can improve a patient’s quality of life over 12 months and help people live longer, healthier lives.

more reliable speeds. The quality of digital connectivity can be markedly different from area to area. We support the Government’s aims to allow Ofcom to demand providers open up their premises-level data on broadband. “Our residents can only make the most informed choices if they have all the data at their fingertips in one place.” See www.local.gov.uk/up-to-speed for the LGA’s faster broadband campaign

www.local.gov.uk


sound bites Cllr Judi Billing (Lab, North Hertfordshire) “Who is the shadow justice secretary? Not being disrespectful just finding it hard to keep up.” www.twitter.com/JudiBilling

letters Local planning

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he National Association of Local Councils (NALC) welcomes most of the measures contained in the Government’s Neighbourhood Planning Bill, published in September. NALC especially supports parts of the Bill which give weight to neighbourhood plans earlier in the planning process, and make it easier to modify plans and designated areas. The Bill requires principal authorities (county, district, unitary or borough) to publish the support they will provide to such plans, ensures that planning authorities must have regard to advanced plans, and that plans come into force as soon as local people have approved them. We want to see parish and town councils and planning authorities work more closely over neighbourhood planning. It is local councils who are driving forward neighbourhood planning and making it a success story, with 90 per cent of the 2,000 neighbourhood plans led by these councils. Also let’s not forget that, according to government, neighbourhood plans are including proposals for 10 per cent more homes than would be provided under local plans for the same areas. There are still a number of ways in which the proposals could be strengthened to give communities more rights within the planning process, improve financial benefits from development and strengthen local democracy

October 2016

Cllr Andrew Cooper (Green, Kirklees) “UK Govt spends less of our GDP on Health than many developed countries. That’s why the NHS has a funding crisis.” www.twitter.com/clrandrewcooper – which we will be promoting as the Bill passes through Parliament. Cllr Ken Browse (Ind), Chairman, National Association of Local Councils

Youth unemployment

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here can be no doubt that these are challenging times for some young adults and in the Black Country, in the heart of the West Midlands, it is no different. However, we are set to give our local young adults the significant boost that they need as the sub-region has successfully achieved up to £51 million of funding to deliver a project that will address the barriers faced by unemployed individuals aged 15 to 29. The two-year project, called Black Country Impact, has been achieved by the four Black Country councils working together since 2014 to develop a new approach that tailors support to the individual. Working region-wide, we can simplify access to our services and provide a depth of service that would not be achievable by any other means. Impact work will ultimately give our young adults the best employability prospects for the future, benefiting them and our communities, and we are delighted to have successfully secured these much needed funds for our residents. Cllr Pete Lowe (Lab), Leader, Dudley Metropolitan Council

Cllr Andrew Gravells (Con, Gloucester) “Great support from @Glosfire at community event in Abbeydale. Thank you for what you do 365 days a year, not just today.” www.twitter.com/andrewgravells Cllr Claire Kober (Lab, Haringey) “To everyone that’s emailed me about scanning dead cats. @haringeycouncil does indeed scan dead cats (& other animals) for microchips.” www.twitter.com/clairekober Cllr Peter Fleming (Con, Sevenoaks) “Yearning for a simpler more straight forward time when Charing X to Sevenoaks trains flew through London Bridge @Se_Railway @SevenoaksRailTA.” www.twitter.com/dmontfort Cllr Liz Green (Lib Dem, Kingston) “Surbiton Library has paper copies of 20mph consultation. Online version starts Monday. #Support20mph.” www.twitter.com/CllrLizGreen Do you have a blog or a Twitter account we should be following or a letter for publication? Letters may be edited and published online. Let us know. Email first@local.gov.uk

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features Skills for future growth The current skills system has failed and is constraining councils’ efforts to stimulate local economic growth Cllr Mark Hawthorne MBE (left) is Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board and Sir Richard Leese CBE is Chair of the LGA’s City Regions Board

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ouncils want to stimulate thriving local economies so all residents contribute and benefit from local growth. They are already working across economic areas with businesses and local partners, building on their unique and proven capacity to integrate services to meet the needs of residents and local employers. But their efforts are being constrained by the national skills system, which has failed to respond to future local economic needs. Reforms are needed to address this failure of the national system and make it fit for local areas. LGA analysis suggests that failure to invest in skills will impede local growth and England’s productivity, resulting in a growing skills gap by 2022. It also revealed that skills shortages hold back several key industries, including house building. The Government has acknowledged this by introducing significant policy and funding

changes to the skills and apprenticeships system. But how far has local government’s ambition to take the lead in this area been met by government reforms? The skills landscape is changing rapidly with key reforms aimed at supporting local areas to deliver the skills employers need to increase productivity. These are: area reviews of post-16 education and training institutions; the adult education budget; and apprenticeships (see right). However, these changes do not go far enough. A step change is needed in government policy to address the skills challenge ahead, by devolving apprenticeship and skills funding and careers advice and guidance for all ages to local areas. Having all the major sources of funding, irrespective of where it comes from, in one place will enable local areas to integrate public funds and plan effectively for a steady supply of skills and jobs, match opportunities to growth sectors, reduce skills gaps and support growth.

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Area reviews In July 2015, the Government announced a national programme of area reviews of post-16 education and training institutions. The aim of these is to create stronger, more financially sustainable institutions, with the capacity and capability to deliver high quality provision which meets the current and future needs of learners and employers. Reviews should deliver institutions which are financially viable, sustainable, resilient and efficient, and deliver maximum value for public investment. This is likely to result in a rationalisation of the curriculum offered, with fewer and larger organisations. Another result should be an offer that meets each area’s educational and economic needs. This will mean local authorities and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) setting out their economic vision for the area and the skills base it will require to succeed – providing a vital opportunity for each area to consider how existing provision and delivery structures can be adapted to deliver skills and training more effectively and efficiently. This should provide the foundation for more collaborative working and greater devolution of responsibility of adult skills provision to local areas. The programme of area reviews is taking place in five waves. It is progressing well and www.local.gov.uk


Case studies Nottingham Nottingham was the first place in the country to have an area-based review of further education. It focused on two local colleges struggling with financial issues and poor Ofsted ratings, and its findings are being used to drive a new education and skills infrastructure for the city. The review showed a clear case for merging the two colleges in terms of cost savings and reduced duplication. Nottingham City Council was able to use its experience of previous mergers to advise on what would work best. One critical part of the future of the merged college is a £60 million ‘skills hub’, which will provide a new state-ofthe-art city centre location for around 1,500 learners. The council is an active partner in the development, £30 million was ring-fenced by the LEP and £10 million will be loaned by the city council. The aim is to use it as an opportunity to reshape further education in Nottingham. is due to be completed by March 2017. The earlier waves included Birmingham and Solihull, Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, Thames Valley, West of England and Surrey. A national steering group with LGA member and officer representation is working with the Department for Education on behalf of the sector.

Adult education budget The current non-apprenticeship adult skills budget (ASB), community learning and discretionary learner support is to be combined into a single adult education budget (AEB) to support disadvantaged and/or low-skilled people, worth £1.5 billion a year. The Government has made a commitment to localise the AEB through devolution deals with the combined authorities in East Anglia, Greater Manchester, Greater Lincolnshire, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, Tees Valley, West of England, and West Midlands. Through these deals the Government aims to enable local commissioning of outcomes to be achieved from the AEB with full financial devolution by 2018/19, subject to readiness conditions. A national steering group with October 2016

stakeholders and the LGA is currently working on these reforms. For areas without a devolution deal, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) is likely to require providers to work more closely with LEPs to agree delivery and priorities for provision.

Apprenticeships The Government has committed to creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. It aims to give employers more control. This will be achieved by a number of methods, including all public bodies (including councils) with more than 250 staff being set a 2.3 per cent apprenticeship target per year. Taking effect from April 2017, an apprenticeship levy is expected to raise £3 billion by 2019/20. All public and private employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million, including councils, will be subject to the levy, contributing 0.5 per cent of payroll. Employers who contribute will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset their levy payment. These reforms will undoubtedly place financial pressures on the sector but we are also looking at the opportunities they will present. • See p27, ‘Local leadership needed on skills’

Southwark Southwark has plans to support 5,000 people into work and create 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities within four years. The council offers practical and financial support to employers to help them create new apprenticeships and jobs, and supports young people to access them. The council introduced the Southwark Apprenticeship Standard, an award given to employers providing excellent apprenticeship opportunities. To qualify, employers must provide quality training provision, a minimum 12-month contract, mentoring support, and pay the London living wage. A total of 23 local employers and partners had achieved the standard by March 2016, including PWC, Mears and Capita. The Southwark Employment and Enterprise Development Scheme (SEEDS) helps smaller employers take on a 16 to 24-year-old apprentice or employee, as long as they agree to create a quality job opportunity and pay the London living wage. Support includes a wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent and ongoing mentoring and business support.

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If cities are in control of infrastructure spending, what does it mean for business?

2016 Party Conference events

LGA debate, our priorities for the Government Date: 3rd October, 12.30pm Venue: Novotel – Darwin Suite Speakers: Duncan Weldon, Prospect (chair); Cllr David Hodge, LGA Conservative Group Leader; Jonathan Simons, Head of the Education Unit, Policy Exchange; Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Local Government For more information, please email: publicaffairs.team@local.gov.uk

Prospect Business Reception (registration required) Date: 25th September, 5.30pm Venue: Albert Dock, Liverpool Speakers: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect; John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer; Jon Trickett MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy; Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General, British Chambers of Commerce To register your interest please email: events@prospect-magazine.co.uk

Schools out? The LGA education debate Date: 26th September, 12.15pm Venue: ACC Liverpool, Meeting Rm 12 Speakers: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect (chair); Cllr Nick Forbes, LGA Labour Group Leader; Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education; Kevin Courtney, General Secretary, NUT; Anna Round, Senior Research Fellow, IPPR

Date: 4th October, 5.30pm Venue: Hyatt – Fortissimo Room Speakers: Stephen Hammond MP, Treasury Select Committee and Chair of the Infrastructure APPG (chair); Paul Plummer, CEO, Rail Delivery Group; Cllr Bob Sleigh, Chairman, West Midlands Combined Authority; Sadie Morgan, Co-Founding Director at dRMM Architects and Design Chair at HS2; Mike Emmerich, Founding Director, Metro Dynamics

What is the future of British trade? Smart cities & intelligent transport in an era of devolution Date: 3rd October, 12.45pm Venue: ICC – Executive Room 9 Speakers: Jon Bernstein, Associate Editor, Prospect (chair); Mark Prisk MP, Communities and Local Government Committee and Chair of the Smart Cities APPG; Jason Pavey, Local Transport Director, Atkins; Laura Shoaf, Managing Director, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM); Dr Jeni Tennison, Technical Director and Deputy CEO, Open Data Institute (ODI)

Who owns health data and how can it best be put to use? Date: 3rd October, 7.30pm Venue: ICC – Executive Room 8 Speakers: Jon Bernstein, Associate Editor, Prospect (chair); Andy Kinnear, Chair, BCS Health; Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, Founder & CEO, Patients Know Best; Dr Jeni Tennison, Technical Director and Deputy CEO, Open Data Institute (ODI)

Date: 4th October, 5.45pm Venue: Hyatt – Concerto Suite Speakers: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect (chair); Richard Graham MP, Trade Envoy to the ASEAN Economic Community; Lord Maude of Horsham, former Minister of State for Trade and Investment; James Cooper, CEO, Associated British Ports; Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General, British Chambers of Commerce

Prospect is also hosting discussions on banking competition, regional devolution and skills. For more information email: events@prospect-magazine.co.uk To discuss working with Prospect at the conferences or other events, please email: david.tl@prospect-magazine.co.uk

How can financial resilience enable social cohesion? Health and technology: how can data save lives? Date: 26th September, 12.30pm Venue: Jurys Inn Room 4 Speakers: Jon Bernstein, Associate Editor, Prospect (chair); Diane Abbott, MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health; Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy; Andy Kinnear, Chair, BCS Health; Dr Mike Fisher, Chief Clinical Information Officer, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University

Date: 4th October, 12.45pm Venue: ICC – Executive Room 7 Speakers: Andy Davis, Finance Editor, Prospect (chair); John Glen MP, PPS to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Jackie Noakes, Executive Director, Legal & General; Josephine Cumbo, Pensions Correspondent, Financial Times; David Willetts, Executive Chair, Resolution Foundation; Jane Vass, Director of Policy and Research, Age UK

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Keep up-to-date with all of Prospect’s news and events: @prospect.mag @prospect_uk www.prospectmagazine.co.uk

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LGA/ADPH Annual Public Health Conference and Exhibition Extending influence to promote health and wellbeing London, 9 March 2017 Keynote speakers: Nicola Blackwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director, Institute of Health Equity, UCL Local authorities continue to make progress on improving health and wellbeing and tackling health inequalities since public health was formally transferred from the NHS in April 2013. Join us at our most popular health conference of the year where we will explore and build on the challenging, innovative work being undertaken by councils and public health teams with their partners and local communities.

To book your place visit: www.local.gov.uk/events

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Labour conference preview

The education debate Academisation of schools and a new national funding formula will be among the issues discussed by councillors at one of the LGA Labour Group’s sessions at party conference in Liverpool

Cllr Nick Forbes is Leader of the LGA’s Labour Group

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s Labour councillors, nothing is more important to us than ensuring that all the children we represent get the best start in life. By working in partnership with schools, teachers and the wider community, local councils are able to help improve standards and ensure that schools serve the needs of communities. But the Government’s Education White Paper, ‘Educational excellence everywhere’ (see first 598), sought to remove local accountability of schools and force all of them to become academies – wasting more than £1 billion at a time when school budgets are being cut. Thanks to the combined efforts of parents, governors, teachers, school leaders, trade unions and councillors from all parties, we were able to force the Government into significant climb-downs. But our work doesn’t stop now. The new Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education have yet to set out their priorities in full, but are expected to continue with most of the measures outlined in the White Paper. Earlier this year, the Queen’s Speech referenced an ‘Education for All’ Bill (see first 601) which would end councils’ statutory role in school improvement and require all local schools – including outstanding ones – to become academies where their local authority was deemed not to be ‘viable’ or to be ‘underperforming’. At the same time, councils would retain extremely important responsibilities, for ensuring there are enough local school places, good provision for pupils with special education needs, and protecting vulnerable October 2016

pupils – but would not have the powers over schools needed to fulfil our duties. The evidence about academies’ performance in driving up standards is inconclusive. In fact, maintained schools are performing 9 per cent better than academies according to Ofsted ratings. Structural change isn’t the solution to improvement: evidence shows that what works best is collaboration between schools, not competition. What we are going to have, though, is an increasingly fragmented schools system, where schools compete against each other and find ways to introduce selection through the back door, rather than ensuring that every child has access to a good quality education. As first went to press, Prime Minister Theresa May was making further commitments around grammar and faith schools. There is a lot of scepticism about selective systems and grammar schools belong in the past. What we need is for every school to be excellent, not a system where in effect parents ‘buy’ a better education for their children simply because of where they live. There is a danger that if we continue down this path, we will see inequalities entrenched and children from disadvantaged backgrounds or poorer areas not achieving their full potential – leading to lost opportunities for the whole of the UK. We also have the challenge of a new national funding formula for schools, now due in from 2018/19. At the moment, local authorities are responsible for support

services funded through the higher needs block, and it’s absolutely crucial that this is funded properly. If it is not, councils will find themselves with multi-million pound bills to be paid for out of taxation or council tax – money which was previously provided by government. There are many other areas of the White Paper and Bill that cause great concern: potential removal of parent governors, weakening of national pay structures, and cuts to school funding. The Government has the wrong priorities and needs to realise that education for all is about supporting what works, not enforcing a top-down reorganisation of the education system that does nothing to address the real issues facing our schools. Labour councillors will continue to hold the Government to account over these illthought out plans and will carry on putting the best interests of children, parents and teachers first.

‘School’s out? The education debate’ takes place on Monday 26 September at the Labour Party’s autumn conference in the ACC Liverpool. Sponsored by the CCLA and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the LGA Labour Group’s debate will be chaired by Tom Clark, Editor of Prospect, with speakers including Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council and the LGA’s Labour Group; Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT; Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary; and Anna Round from the think tank IPPR. Please visit www.local.gov.uk/parliament for more on the LGA’s work at the party conferences

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Conservative conference preview

A position of strength Brexit, devolution and reshaping local health and care services will be among the issues up for discussion when Conservative councillors meet with ministers at the party’s annual conference in Birmingham

Cllr David Hodge is Leader of the LGA’s Conservative Group

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onservative councillors will arrive in Birmingham for our party conference in excellent heart and united, with the party enjoying significant leads in the opinion polls and having recently recorded council by-election gains from Labour in areas as varied as Kent and Stockton-on-Tees. Conference provides the ideal opportunity for us to review the past political year and look forward to the new one. It has certainly been an eventful 12 months, with the EU referendum dominating much of the political debate and the Brexit vote culminating in a change of Prime Minister and a significant cabinet reshuffle. Brexit will no doubt be the hot topic at the conference and the LGA’s presence will allow us to highlight the work that we have done over the summer to ensure that local government is central to the negotiations.

We are clear that powers must not simply be handed down from Brussels to Westminster. Also, with EU laws impacting on many of the council services that affect people’s day-to-day lives, we need to have a central role in deciding how to replace or remove them. Key issues that will impact on local government include environmental policy, procurement, regional policy and regulatory services. We are also seeking guarantees around the £5.3 billion committed for regeneration schemes through to 2020 whilst also highlighting the importance of entrenching local government within our new constitutional settlement.

Business rates Of course, there are issues other than Brexit. For local government it has been a significant 12 months with the passing of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act, further progress on devolution deals in various parts of the country and detailed work now taking place to achieve the localisation of business rates by 2020 – a long-standing policy ask of the LGA. Over the past year we have also seen progress in the development of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) around the

country. STPs have the potential to reshape local health and care services for the benefit of local communities by keeping people out of hospital and improving the quality of care. However, we continue to press for communities and councils to be at the heart of STPs, with implementation underpinned by local political leadership. Conference provides the ideal opportunity for Conservative councillors to discuss these and other issues with ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government, and this will be particularly important this year as a result of the extensive reshuffle that took place following Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister. I know that our new Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, and his ministerial team of Gavin Barwell, Andrew Percy, Marcus Jones and Lord Bourne, are keen to use the conference to meet as many councillors as possible and to get their feedback on devolution and other issues. Theresa May’s first conference speech as our new Prime Minister will be eagerly anticipated and I suspect that she will take the opportunity to develop the ‘One nation’ message that she so powerfully outlined in July. This vision of helping people to reach their potential, regardless of their background, as well as giving communities more control over their lives, is one that Conservative councillors fully support. Finally, with important local elections next year, conference also provides a great opportunity for Conservative councillors to come together and plan our campaigns. With the Labour Party currently in disarray, I believe that all Conservative councillors should be looking to work together as one team to take advantage of this situation by entrenching our position as the largest party in local government, and the largest political group here at the LGA. The LGA’s Conservative Group is holding a debate on ‘Our priorities for the Government’ on Monday 3 October at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham. Chaired by Duncan Weldon of Prospect magazine, the speakers will include Cllr David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council and the LGA’s Conservative Group; Jonathan Simons from the think tank Policy Exchange; Alex Jones, Chief Executive of the Centre for Cities; and Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Local Government

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www.local.gov.uk


Planning ahead on flooding Future funding for flood defences should be devolved to local areas, the LGA has reiterated, following publication of a government review into last winter’s floods

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reater protection for infrastructure and £12.5 million for new temporary flood defences were among the measures announced in the Government’s National Flood Resilience Review, published in September. The report, commissioned after storms and flooding last winter caused devastation across much of northern England (see first 596), also includes a new stress test of the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in England. For the first time, this would link Met Office forecasts of extreme rainfall scenarios with Environment Agency modelling. But while government has secured a commitment from utility companies to increase protection of key local infrastructure such as electricity sub-stations, phone networks and water treatment works, the review says up to 530 such sites are still vulnerable to flooding. Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Environment Spokesman, said: “Government support has been vital in enabling local authorities and their communities to recover from last winter’s flooding devastation. The extra £12.5 million announced for temporary flood defences and the commitment from utility companies to better protect vital water, electricity and telecoms services are steps in the right direction. October 2016

“However, councils will need significantly more support from government to help prepare for the possibility of further flooding this winter and recover from any damage. “Crucially, future funding for flood defences must also be devolved by the Government to local areas. This will enable councils, working with communities and businesses, to ensure money is directed towards projects that best reflect local needs. This includes protecting key roads

“Councils will need significantly more support from government to help prepare for the possibility of further flooding this winter and recover from any damage”

and bridges to keep local residents and businesses moving. Councils know their local areas and are best placed to help families get back on their feet.” He added: “We are also calling on the Government to further incentivise firms to make contributions to flood defences. This should include, for example, extending tax relief for contributions to all flood defence projects, not just those with government funding attached.” Around 21,000 properties were flooded last winter, and the economic cost is estimated to extend to billions of pounds, including damage caused to businesses, roads and bridges across the country. In a bid to future-proof new homes and businesses, the LGA has previously called for the Government to bring in mandatory anti-flood requirements for new homes in building regulations. These would include raised electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring above floor level; ventilation brick covers; sealed floors; and raised damp-proof courses. Requiring developers to introduce such measures would leave new homes and businesses better protected against the worst ravages of flooding and could in the long term save hundreds of millions of pounds in damage, it argued. It also wants to see landfill tax – calculated at just over £82 per tonne – returned to local taxpayers and invested back into projects supporting local jobs and growth, rather than going to the Treasury. Last winter, flood-affected councils had to take thousands of tonnes of residents’ water-damaged household goods and freezer waste to landfill – adding to their costs, when they are already facing huge bills for flood recovery and repairs to roads and bridges.

The National Flood Resilience Review is available at www.gov.uk/government/ publications/national-flood-resilience-review. For general information and resources, please visit our flood portal at www.local.gov.uk/floodportal. For ‘A councillor’s guide to civil emergencies’, see www.local.gov.uk/publications

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Self-sufficient local government The new system of business rates retention needs to balance rewarding councils for growth while addressing local needs

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s first was going to press, the 26 September deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on local retention of business rates was looming. Ministers are planning to allow local government as a whole to keep more of its business rates income by 2020, but wants councils to spend some of the extra money on new responsibilities. The Government has been consulting on what these new responsibilities might be (see first 603), as well as other key issues such as how the reforms will incentivise growth, and whether the current system of tariffs and top-ups is the right one for redistributing funding between councils (see first 602). The LGA has been working with councils and government on business rates retention, with representatives sitting on working groups looking at key aspects of the reforms. We have now drafted a submission to the consultation, which, as first was going to press, was going through the LGA’s member approval process. The draft submission emphasises that newly retained business rates must be used to address the projected £5.3 billion funding gap facing local government by 2020, before any new responsibilities are considered. Once existing pressures and responsibilities have been fully funded, we believe the priority for the remaining business rates income should be for responsibilities linked to driving economic

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growth in local areas. The draft also highlights concerns about unresolved business rates appeals and the LGA’s opposition to devolving responsibility for administering attendance allowance for older people to councils. The new system should be implemented in a way that balances rewarding councils for growing their local economies with avoiding areas less able to generate business rates income suffering as a result. One particular issue being discussed is the frequency with which the system is rebalanced or ‘reset’. At the point at which a full reset is carried out, all changes since the last reset will be incorporated in the baseline, balancing both business rates income and needs. This means that at the point of reset, councils that have received additional business rates as more businesses move to their area will lose the direct benefit of those additional rates. But at the same time, any councils that have lost out because business premises have closed or moved away will no longer suffer that reduced income directly. Under the current scheme of 50 per cent business rates retention, the first reset was planned for 2020, seven years after the start of the system. Many see this as being too short a timeframe for growing the local economy. The LGA believes that a partial reset could provide a way forward. This should

be set to ensure that authorities which lose over the period of the reset are returned to the baseline at the point of partial reset. The key decision then will be how much of the retained growth is kept for those that grow. The LGA would also like to see options explored where a needs reset is carried out more frequently than a business rates baseline reset The LGA’s full and final response to the business rates retention consultation will be published at www.local.gov.uk/businessrates on or around the consultation closing date of 26 September. There is still a long way to go to 2020, and we are expecting another business rates consultation in the autumn. But we couldn’t have got this far without the help, advice and support of councillors and officers from across the sector, including more than 250 people who attended joint LGA and DCLG regional consultation events, and nearly 50 elected members with finance portfolio responsibilities who attended an LGA forum over the summer. Meanwhile, it’s not too late for you or your council to respond to the consultation directly – see www.gov.uk/government/ consultations/self-sufficient-localgovernment-100-business-rates-retention

See next month’s first 605 for the LGA’s submission to the Government’s Autumn Statement

www.local.gov.uk


No place for hate Councils are best placed to tackle the challenges posed by reported increases in hate crime

Cllr Simon Blackburn is Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board

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ational Hate Crime Awareness Week 2016 (8-15 October) is all the more relevant this year. Hate crime reports to the police in the last two weeks of July were 49 per cent up on the same period in 2015. The charity Stop Hate UK – which organises the awareness week – saw a 60 per cent increase in reports in late June and referred 40 per cent more cases to the police. Raciallymotivated reports more than doubled. Incidents included xenophobic graffiti (for example on the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, London), arson against a Polish family in Devon, anti-immigrant cards distributed outside a primary school, physical assaults and verbal abuse. These events highlight the need for councils to address the threat such crimes pose to community cohesion. Although attacks are perpetrated by a tiny minority – the local community in Hammersmith was quick to offer the Polish Centre sympathy and moral support – both David Cameron and his successor as Prime Minister, Theresa May, have spoken of the need to tackle hate crime, and the Government has published a fresh action plan. Local government has a vital role in building community cohesion and combating extremism. The impact of hate incidents and crimes on both individuals and local areas is far-reaching. Victims are more likely to suffer serious and longer lasting damage when they have been targeted in this way and the anxiety and tension this causes can permeate entire communities. As soon as it became clear that we were facing an increase in incidents, the LGA provided a collection of useful documents and links on our website (visit www.local. gov.uk/community-safety and click on October 2016

“Councils need to address the threat hate crimes pose to community cohesion”

‘community cohesion and hate crime resource’). The page contains useful contacts, guidance, case studies, toolkits and other resources. Councils are already doing much to combat hate crime. For example, Essex has established a Strategic Hate Crime Prevention Partnership, bringing together schools, police and voluntary organisations, and using a social media presence to encourage reporting and deliver sessions to schoolchildren. Birmingham City Council has created a ‘faith’ map (see www.birminghamfaithmap. org.uk) to show the contribution faiths make to life in the city. Tower Hamlets has a No Place for Hate Forum which brings together the council and key agencies to

coordinate responses to race and hate crime. Manchester has worked closely with voluntary and community partners, including housing providers, to establish reporting centres across the city. Each organisation has received training and has signed up to a set of standards that support them to deal with incidents. And Derbyshire has organised hate crime awareness training courses for staff, partner agencies, housing providers, third sector organisations, and police, probation and fire and rescue services. Every community is different and councils are best placed to tackle the challenges each faces. A great deal of good work is being done by the sector, and National Hate Crime Awareness Week offers us an opportunity to promote it and engage our communities.

To find out more about National Hate Crime Awareness Week and to publicise your council’s activities, visit www.stophateuk.org/hate-crime-awareness-week. See www.gov.uk/government/publications/hate-crime-action-plan-2016 for the Government’s hate crime action plan. It is inviting bids for funding to counter extremism and for projects tackling hate crime – see the LGA’s hate crime site at www.local.gov.uk/community-safety. To add anything to this webpage, please contact charles.loft@local.gov.uk

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Local government leaders

the local authorities in LGA membership. After the May local elections, the LGA’s political balance for 2016/17 was calculated by Plymouth University’s LGC Elections Centre to be: Conservative – 40.47 per cent; Labour – 39.86 per cent; Independent – 10.27 per cent; and Liberal Democrat – 9.4 per cent. Then the political groups used their respective methods of selection

to fill the seats allocated to them. The LGA Executive is made up of the LGA Leadership Board (chairman, vice-chairs and deputy chairs), chairs of the LGA’s policy boards, ‘balancing’ members, regional members, and non-voting members. All English councils are members of the LGA, with the exception of the London Boroughs of Barnet, Bromley and Wandsworth. In total, 435 authorities are LGA members, including 350 English councils, the 22 Welsh councils via the Welsh LGA, 48 fire authorities, 10 national parks via corporate membership through the English National Park Authorities Association, 21 parish and town councils via corporate membership with the National Association of Local Councils, and one town council.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson CBE (Lib Dem, Portsmouth) is an LGA Vice-Chair, Leader of the LGA’s Liberal Democrat Group, and was Leader of Portsmouth City Council to 2014. geraldvj@gmail.com

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock (Lab, Lewisham) is an LGA Deputy Chair, Chair of the LGA’s Commercial Advisory Board, and was first elected as Lewisham’s Mayor in 2002. steve.bullock@lewisham.gov.uk

The LGA’s strategic direction is set by its executive members – councillors of all parties from across the country

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he LGA is the national voice of local government. We work with councils to support, promote and improve local government. We are a politically-led, cross-party organisation. So every autumn, the LGA’s Executive, its policy boards and other structures are reconstituted to reflect the combined political composition of

LGA leadership board Lord Porter of Spalding CBE (Con, South Holland) is Chairman of the LGA and Leader of South Holland District Council. A former Leader of the LGA’s Conservative Group, he was first elected to South Holland in 2001 and became its Leader in 2003. gporter@sholland.gov.uk Cllr Nick Forbes (Lab, Newcastle) is the LGA’s Senior Vice-Chair and Leader of the LGA’s Labour Group. He was elected to Newcastle City Council in 2000 and became Leader in 2011. nick.forbes@newcastle.gov.uk Cllr David Hodge (Con, Surrey) is an LGA ViceChairman and Leader of the LGA’s Conservative Group. He was elected to Surrey County Council in 2005, becoming Leader in 2011, and is a former Chairman of the County Councils Network. david.hodge@surreycc.gov.uk Cllr Marianne Overton MBE (Ind, Lincolnshire) is an LGA Vice-Chair and Leader of the LGA’s Independent Group. She was first elected to North Kesteven District Council in 1995 and to Lincolnshire County Council in 2001, and is Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents. cllrm.overton@lincolnshire.gov.uk

Cllr Sean Anstee (Con, Trafford) is an LGA Deputy Chairman and Leader of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council. He was first elected in 2008. sean.anstee@trafford.gov.uk Cllr Peter Fleming OBE (Con, Sevenoaks) is an LGA Deputy Chairman and Leader of Sevenoaks District Council, where he has been a member since 1999. cllr.fleming@sevenoaks.gov.uk Cllr, The Baroness Couttie (Con, Westminster) is an LGA Deputy Chairman. She was first elected to Westminster City Council in 2006 and became its Leader in 2012. leader@westminster.gov.uk Cllr David Simmonds CBE (Con, Hillingdon) is an LGA Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group. He is Deputy Leader of Hillingdon Council. dsimmonds@hillingdon.gov.uk Cllr Peter Box CBE (Lab, Wakefield) is an LGA Deputy Chair and has been Leader of Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council since 1998. pbox@wakefield.gov.uk

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Cllr Sue Murphy CBE (Lab, Manchester) is an LGA Deputy Chair and Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council. cllr.s.murphy@manchester.gov.uk Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE (Lab, Stevenage) is an LGA Deputy Chair, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, and a member of Hertfordshire County Council. sharon.taylor@stevenage.gov.uk Cllr Anne Western CBE (Lab, Derbyshire) is an LGA Deputy Chair. She is the Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Policy and Budget at Derbyshire County Council. anne.western@derbyshire.gov.uk Cllr Peter Reeve (UKIP, Cambridgeshire) is an LGA Deputy Chair, Deputy Leader of the LGA’s Independent Group, and a member of Cambridgeshire County and Huntingdonshire District Councils. peter.reeve@cambridgeshire.gov.uk Mayor Baroness Dorothy Thornhill MBE (Lib Dem, Watford) is an LGA Deputy Chair, Deputy Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group, and was elected Mayor of Watford Borough Council in 2002. themayor@watford.gov.uk www.local.gov.uk


board chairs and other executive members Cllr Mark Hawthorne MBE (Con, Gloucestershire) is Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, and was previously Gloucester City Council’s youngest leader. mark.hawthorne@gloucestershire.gov.uk Cllr William Nunn (Con, Breckland) is Leader of Breckland Council, where he was first elected in 2009. He is Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board and IDeA Company Board. william.nunn@breckland.gov.uk Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con, Warwickshire) is the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board Chairman and became the first female Leader of Warwickshire County Council in 2013. isobelseccombe@warwickshire.gov.uk Cllr Martin Tett (Con, Buckinghamshire) is Chairman of the LGA’s Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board and the Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, which he joined in 2005. mtett@buckscc.gov.uk Cllr Simon Blackburn (Lab, Blackpool) is Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board and Leader of Blackpool Council. cllr.simon.blackburn@blackpool.gov.uk

Cllr Claire Kober OBE (Lab, Haringey) is Chair of the LGA’s Resources Board and also represents London Councils. She became Leader of Haringey Council in 2008. claire.kober@haringey.gov.uk Cllr Sir Richard Leese CBE (Lab, Manchester) is Chair of the LGA’s City Regions Board, Leader of Manchester City Council, and Vice-Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. r.leese@manchester.gov.uk Cllr Richard Watts (Lab, Islington) is Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board and has been the Leader of Islington Council since 2013. He joined the council in 2006. richard.watts@islington.gov.uk Cllr Ian Stephens (Ind, Isle of Wight) is Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board and a former Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, to which he was first elected in 2001. ian.stephens@iow.gov.uk Cllr Bob Dutton OBE (Ind, Wrexham) is a Balancing Member on the LGA’s Executive and the Lead Member for Corporate Services at Wrexham County Borough Council. bob.dutton@wrexham.gov.uk Cllr Chris White (Lib Dem, Hertfordshire) is a Balancing Member on the LGA’s Executive, and Lib Dem Group Leader on St Albans City and District Council. chris.white. stalbans@gmail.com

non-voting members Cllr Paul Carter CBE (Con, Kent) is Chairman of the County Councils Network and Leader of Kent County Council. paul.carter-leader@kent.gov.uk Cllr Neil Clarke MBE (Con, Rushcliffe) is Chairman of the District Councils’ Network and has been Leader of Rushcliffe Borough Council since 2005. cllr.nclarke@rushcliffe.gov.uk October 2016

Sir Stephen Houghton CBE (Lab, Barnsley) is Leader of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Chair of the LGA’s Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (SIGOMA). cllrstephenhoughton@barnsley.gov.uk Alderman Sir David Wootton (Ind, City of London) is Chairman of Local Partnerships and a member of the City of London Corporation. david.wootton@cityoflondon.gov.uk

regional and Welsh members Cllr Tom Fitzpatrick (Con, North Norfolk) represents the East of England LGA. He is the Leader of North Norfolk District Council, which he joined in 2011. tom.fitzpatrick@north-norfolk.gov.uk Cllr John Hart (Con, Devon) has been Leader of Devon County Council since 2009 and is Chairman of South West Councils. john.hart@devon.gov.uk Cllr Nicolas Heslop (Con, Tonbridge & Malling) is Chairman of South East England Councils and Leader of Tonbridge & Malling District Council. nicolas.heslop@tmbc.gov.uk Cllr Stephen Parnaby OBE (Con, East Riding) represents Yorkshire and Humber and is the Leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council. councillor.parnaby@eastriding.gov.uk Cllr Nicholas Rushton (Con, Leicestershire) is Leader of Leicestershire County Council and represents East Midlands Councils on the LGA’s Executive. nicholas.rushton@leics.gov.uk Cllr Barrie Grunewald (Lab, St Helens) represents the North West on the LGA’s Executive and is Leader of St Helens Council. cllrbgrunewald-leader@sthelens.gov.uk Cllr Roger Lawrence (Lab, Wolverhampton) is Leader of Wolverhampton City Council and represents the West Midlands on the LGA’s Executive. roger.lawrence@wolverhampton.gov.uk Cllr Aaron Shotton (Lab, Flintshire) is Flintshire County Council’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance. He represents the Welsh LGA and is its Spokesperson for Finance and Resources. aaron.shotton@flintshire.gov.uk Cllr Paul Watson (Lab, Sunderland) represents the North East and has been Leader of Sunderland City Council since 2008. cllr.paul.watson@sunderland.gov.uk

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interview Poverty costs Councils can’t afford not to tackle poverty because of the demand it places on local services, argues Julia Unwin CBE, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

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strategy to solve poverty by 2030 might sound like ‘pie in the sky’ to some. But for Julia Unwin, it’s “not a utopian dream” but a “realistic ambition”. The Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has been fronting the launch of its ‘We can solve poverty in the UK’ strategy. It puts forward a five-point plan (backed by 300 pages of research evidence) designed to ensure that, by 2030, no one is ever destitute, less than one in ten are in poverty at any one time, and nobody is in poverty for more than two years. The figures in the strategy tell their own story: 13 million people in the UK are considered poor; around 12 million lack the basic digital skills needed to apply for a job online; and five million struggle with literacy and numeracy. Meanwhile, an estimated £78 billion of national public spending is linked to dealing with poverty and its consequences, including spending on healthcare, education, justice, and children’s and adults’ social services. Which is why Ms Unwin is so keen to talk to councillors, and why she believes all councils need to relentlessly focus on tackling poverty locally – despite, or rather because of the difficult financial situation facing local government. “It’s not how can local authorities afford to do this, it’s can they afford not to? The

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“The common denominator in many of the social problems councils deal with – isolation in old age, children in trouble, household debt – is poverty”

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chris sharp/LGA

October 2016

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huge costs facing so many councils are because of high levels of poverty in their areas. And the common denominator in many, many of the social problems they deal with – isolation in old age, children in trouble, young people going into care, household debt, people not being able to pay their rent – is poverty. “Social change happens locally. Local authorities are at the forefront of doing this already, that’s why we want to work with them,” she says. There are no silver bullets when it comes to solving poverty. The JRF’s strategy proposes a range of measures designed to boost incomes and reduce costs; deliver an effective benefits system; improve education standards and raise skills; strengthen families and communities; and promote long-term economic growth benefiting everyone. It talks about creating ‘inclusive growth’ and quality jobs that allow people to progress and work their way out of poverty. Another JRF report, published earlier this year, identified the problem in cities of good jobs being available but local people lacking the skills and training to take them up. So what is more important when it comes to jobs – quality or quantity? And what can councils do to create the right kind of growth locally? “There is a very real risk that the rush to growth in all of our cities will go only for those high quality jobs. And of course we need them,” says Ms Unwin. “But for every science park, you have a retail park too. And we know that in retail, care and hospitality, low pay is locked in. “Leeds City Region and Manchester are doing a lot of work on this, to make sure the growth they have provides jobs that are good, but that have progression in them – because currently, four out of five people starting a low-paid job are still in poverty 10 years later. That means those starter jobs are not starter jobs, they are dead-ends.” Good local authorities need to be planning 10 to 15 years ahead to make sure the jobs they are attracting give local people the security and progression they need to build security for their families, she says. “They need to make sure their inward investment strategies are looking for

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companies with good employment practice. That’s quite do-able. Across the United States, cities are choosing companies because of good employment practices because they know in the end poor employment practices cost the city. “As they are doing their deals to bring companies in, councils can talk to them about what the offer is, they can connect local people to those jobs, they can plan for those new jobs arriving by making sure the training is there in advance so that people do go for the jobs on their doorstep because they are ready for them. “I don’t think this requires extra powers or money. It’s doing what you do already in a way that benefits your local economy,” she adds. Where councils do need extra powers, though, is to help poor families with the big costs of childcare and particularly housing. Good quality work may be the best route out of poverty, but a decent, secure, affordable home is a prerequisite too, she says. “One of the huge achievements of this country, done by councils and housing

associations, is we broke the historic link between squalor and poverty. “Before that, 30 to 40 years ago, housing for poor people was squalid housing. But we are in danger of going back on that because poor households – living in the worst parts of the private rented sector, paying high rents covered by housing benefit – face real insecurity and very poor conditions. That is no way to hold a family together or to hold down a long-term demanding job.” The JRF’s strategy calls for regulation of the private rented sector to be devolved to groups of local authorities or city regions, with powers to govern tenure length, standards and the rate at which landlords can increase rents. It also wants an additional £1.1 billion a year spent on affordable housing and right to buy homes replaced on a like-for-like basis. A focus on family support and education throughout life is also key to tackling poverty, according to the JRF. It wants councils to bring together child and family services with advice and support on material and financial matters – supported by national governments investing an additional £800 million in children’s centres and family support services. Childcare should be free to parents on low incomes and concentrate on providing 15 hours a week high quality care rather than increasing the offer to 30 hours, so as to help close the attainment gap between poorer and better-off children. Education should focus on improving the attainment of low-income children in all types of schools; and improvements are needed to careers support, advice and job training for the over-16s. The grammar school and selection debate, revived by Prime Minister Theresa May, is a “red herring”, says Ms Unwin. “All of our research about poverty and education makes it crystal clear that it’s not structures that matter. The evidence is that good quality schooling, run however it is run but focused on the needs and achievement of the child, is the best way to help children get out of poverty. At a time when we’ve got 13 million people in poverty and given the numeracy and literacy rates that we face, I think it’s an absolute distraction to talk about structures.”

www.local.gov.uk


chris sharp/LGA

“It’s not how can local authorities afford to [tackle poverty], it’s can they afford not to?”

Another great success of public policy has been reversing the old picture of old age as one that was always poorer – but even here, despite lower levels of poverty among older people, Ms Unwin has concerns for the future. “We face a real risk that we reverse those great gains. You have people in their thirties and forties on or just below the living wage who are absolutely not saving anything for their retirement and indeed are likely to go into retirement highly in debt,” she says. “Our councils are supporting older people and more disabled people and more people with long-term medical conditions. We need to make sure that all of our systems and structures are ready to support people like that, many of whom will wish to carry on

October 2016

working but might need to do it differently. “And there is a real crisis about isolation in old age – that’s a core poverty issue. Many, many councils and voluntary organisations are doing fantastic work to try and address that. So from our point of view, old age is not something that we have dealt with, it is something that will be different in the future.” In some respects, JRF’s case for tackling poverty has been underlined by the EU referendum result, with its own research suggesting a combination of three factors – education, income, and the place that you live – determined how people voted. “What 23 June demonstrated is that there are places that feel they have never had the benefits of growth and prosperity. And people in those places voted to

leave,” says Ms Unwin. “The fact that the plea from government to vote in one way, supported by so much of industry, so many other organisations, was overturned by so many people, suggests to me that’s a real cry that we are not happy with how things are. “When that happens, politicians, local and national, really have to sit up and listen to the message that too many people feel left behind and overlooked, and that 13 million people in poverty can’t carry on being ignored.” She adds: “I have no doubt that local councillors know all of this. We want to work with you and support you, but you are the experts – we just provide the evidence.” • See p24, ‘Working together to drive down poverty’

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comment Bidding for culture Cllr Steven Bayes (Lab) is Hull City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Visitor Economy and UK City of Culture 2017

Next year, Hull will be inviting “everyone back to ours” for 365 days of culture as it becomes only the second UK City of Culture. The decision to bid was taken against the backdrop of austerity, the impact of which was particularly felt by northern cities. Hull had previously bid for the inaugural UK City of Culture in 2013, won by Derry-Londonderry, and was the only city from that first round to bid again to host the 2017 celebrations. When Labour formed Hull’s administration in 2011, we looked very closely at what was needed to improve the city, in particular its economy and external perceptions. We considered the potential that UK City of Culture could have in Hull and examined why we had been unsuccessful in our previous bid. We decided early on that our bid must be a city bid, led by the council. This meant that we relied heavily on existing independent art and cultural organisations, the University of Hull and businesses in the city, to help us make the case and develop the detail. We knew how vital it was to show that the whole city could benefit from Hull being UK City of Culture and that the positive impact would not just be concentrated within the

“Once we had been shortlisted, scepticism gave way to belief, people were much more supportive and wished to be actively engaged” October 2016

city centre and its cultural sector. With this in mind, we undertook extensive work to engage with all residents. As the lead member, I oversaw the strategy for the bid, which we undertook in incremental steps, ensuring that those who supported the city were given the tools to argue the case. We concentrated primarily on how, if successful, we would harness the power of culture to deliver economic regeneration and to improve the image and perception of Hull within the UK and the EU as a place to do business. A top priority was to win the support of local people, who had become exceptionally sceptical of any title or improved status awarded by government. At an early stage, we secured the backing of our local newspaper, the Hull Daily Mail, and the BBC. We instigated a social media campaign but, crucially, grassroots organisations, supporters and volunteers outside of the council shaped and undertook much of the activity. Once we had been shortlisted, the mood within the city changed significantly. Scepticism gave way to belief, people were much more supportive and wished to be

actively engaged. We harnessed that mood, supporting and publicising opportunities for cultural stakeholders and the public to demonstrate their support and come together to make Hull’s voice heard. Alongside this, we engaged with national media to raise Hull’s profile and build the city’s credibility, pushing on to the final presentation to the judging panel with overwhelming local support and an increasingly strong social media presence. Bidding was the easy part. Implementation is significantly harder, in particular finding people who are able to deliver an enterprise of such scale on behalf of the city and the UK. We were fortunate to secure Martin Green, who had been Head of Ceremonies for London 2012, as the Chief Executive of Hull 2017. By adopting a delivery structure which created a separate company, not controlled by the council, we have also been able to maximise the money raised from third parties to ensure Hull presents an outstanding cultural programme in 2017. The council has been awarded government money to bring forward two key legacy projects – the refurbishment of two of the city’s cultural gems, the Ferens Art Gallery and Hull New Theatre. And we are investing significantly in improving the city, increasing Hull’s ability to attract economic investment and ensuring that UK City of Culture 2017 delivers lasting and positive benefits for communities across the city.

For more information about Hull UK City of Culture 2017 please visit www.hull17.co.uk

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group leaders’ comments Working together to drive down poverty

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ritain is one of the richest countries in the world, yet poverty is one of the biggest challenges our country faces. Thirteen million people here are living in poverty. This figure is as astounding as it is disgraceful; and it is up to all of us to look at ways to tackle it. As Labour councillors, we meet people from all walks of life and hear first-hand stories of people struggling to make ends meet. For councillors up and down the country, it is a key priority that everyone has a chance of a decent and secure life. There are parts of the UK where there is still more to be done. Councils are best placed to lead the way but need the financial

freedom and powers to coordinate services and help everyone fulfil their potential. Devolution deals are offering local areas the chance to improve services for the most disadvantaged or vulnerable. Local areas need to be able to integrate support to tackle drug and alcohol abuse and youth offending, and prevent homelessness, and should be given powers over national employment and skills schemes to smash the significant barriers that prevent people finding and keeping a job. Councils also need to be able to play a lead role in building desperately-needed affordable homes – to buy and rent – which are crucial

“Devolution deals are offering local areas the chance to improve services for the most disadvantaged or vulnerable”

Cllr Nick Forbes is Leader of the LGA’s Labour Group

for enabling people to gain the skills to find and progress in employment. Hundreds of schools, often in disadvantaged areas, are being turned around thanks to the intervention of local councils. With access to a good education also the starting point for success later in life, the Government needs to recognise councils’ role in education improvement. Imposing structural changes on schools is not the best way to improve education. Poverty divides communities and generations, it hinders people’s potential and places huge strain on families. By working together to tackle these issues, we can make real and lasting steps towards driving down poverty.

chairman’s comment

Opportunities to share our expertise

Lord Porter is Chairman of the LGA

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ell that’s it then. Another summer over and – surprise, surprise – we have a mountain of work ahead of us. Parliament is back, party conferences are in full swing, and the Autumn Statement and local government finance settlement are on the horizon. If that’s not enough, we also have Brexit and the impact this will have on our local areas. Over recent months, we’ve made sure local government is at the front and centre of any discussions. This has put us in a strong position and we are ahead of many in assessing the likely impacts. We’ve already warned that powers

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must not simply be handed from Brussels to Westminster and continue to emphasise the need for full guarantees around the £5.3 billion committed for local regeneration schemes to 2020. With this and many more issues occupying the nation’s mind, it is more important than ever that local government has a strong, united voice in our communities, in our Parliament, and in the offices of our MPs. In my role in the House of Lords I will make sure that the case for local government is put forward, from homelessness to Brexit; no matter the issues, I will be using this position to share our knowledge and expertise. When we do this, people listen. Take last

week, for example. We raised concerns about the Government’s proposal to privatise the Land Registry; it has decided to put a pause on its plans. This is a positive outcome for councils. We’ve got a lot coming down the line, but what a great opportunity. A new leadership team in the Government means more chances to meet with ministers, more opportunities to talk about the work councils do, day in, day out, to support our communities, and offer our experience and expertise. No doubt, there will be some more heavy lifting for us to do but when have we ever walked away from a challenge?

“It is more important than ever that local government has a strong, united voice in our communities, Parliament and the offices of our MPs” www.local.gov.uk


group leaders’ comments

Cllr David Hodge is Leader of the LGA’s Conservative Group

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE is Leader of the LGA’s Independent Group

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson is Leader of the LGA’s Liberal Democrat Group

Building on the success of Team GB

Tackling the causes of offending behaviour

Brexit threatens cash for affordable housing

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our years on from the excitement of the London Olympics, Team GB has scored a remarkable achievement in coming second in the Rio medals table, ahead of China. This is something that the whole country can be justifiably proud of and at the time of writing Team GB is also second in the Paralympics medals table, having already won 108 medals, 49 of which are gold. The successes of our Olympians and Paralympians is likely to result in increased numbers of visitors to leisure centres, sports pitches, swimming pools and cycle tracks as people are enthused to try new sports and get more active. Amongst these people will be potential Team GB medallists at future Olympics and Paralympics. Whilst this enthusiasm is encouraging, the challenge now is to ensure that it is sustained in the years ahead. Councils have a key role to play in encouraging people to get involved in sport, both competitively and for leisure, and I know that many are now seeking to capitalise on the enthusiasm resulting from our successes in Rio. The Olympics and Paralympics have provided a wonderful summer of sport. We now need to focus on securing a long-term legacy of greater participation in sport and physical activity as a fitting tribute to the successes of our athletes in the 2016 Games.

ike some other new authority areas, Lincolnshire is asking for devolution of the criminal justice system to the new proposed combined authority. I have looked at the national position and visited Victorian Lincoln Prison – I saw a broken system. Violence in prisons is on the increase. Recruitment and retention of prison officers is increasingly difficult, whilst numbers of prisoners have increased to overcrowding. With inadequate staffing, prisoners are locked up for up to 23.5 hours a day. This is an environment where it would be incredibly difficult for anyone to remain sane, but since the vast majority of inmates have already been damaged by drugs or abuse, it makes a toxic cocktail that is hard to bear. Reoffending rates are still high and the sense of rehabilitation is low. What can councils do? Councils are already responsible for children and young people, and for supporting vulnerable adults, but still too many find themselves on the wrong side of the law and a disproportionate number end up in prison. Just spending money on more prisons is throwing good money after bad, if we don’t also tackle the underlying causes of offending behaviour, including mental health and addiction. Without adequate support in people’s lives, they sadly disconnect from the notion of a positive future outside the penal system. With or without devolution, we have to do better.

“Councils have a key role to play in encouraging people to get involved in “Reoffending rates sport, both competitively are still high and the sense of rehabilitation and for leisure” is low”

ffordable housing projects in Britain worth over £1.2 billion, currently funded by the European Investment Bank, are at risk – the equivalent of 40,000 new homes. This funding is loaned to housing associations and councils for spending on building new homes and regeneration of urban areas. If Britain leaves the EU it will no longer have access to this source of funding – meaning housing associations will need the UK Government to step up and offer new investment to plug the gap over the coming years. The National Housing Federation has warned housing associations to examine the implications for their house building of losing future EU funding. And what about the grants for developing construction skills and employment from the EU which local government has already raised concerns about? The housing crisis in Britain is getting worse and it’s vital the Government commits to real investment in building new homes. Funding for affordable housing is one of the many benefits we receive from the EU and we must not lose out in the event of Brexit. Even with current EU funding, Britain is building only half the number of homes it needs each year. With 1.6 million people on social housing waiting lists and many others in expensive private rented homes, there is simply no excuse for holding back the major investment needed to get Britain building.

“It’s vital the Government commits to real investment in building new homes”

For more information about the LGA’s political groups, see www.local.gov.uk

October 2016

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Public support for devo deal Cllr Ray Oxby (Lab) is Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council

People in Greater Lincolnshire have told us what they think of devolution. During the summer we worked with the nine other councils that make up Greater Lincolnshire to consult on our proposals to set up a combined authority with an elected mayor. This is a major shift in the way decisions could be made in future and I’m delighted so many residents and businesses took the time to tell us what they think. I was particularly pleased that the public share our view that this is too great an opportunity not to take, being part of what

could be a massive handing back of powers and resources to local people from civil servants and ministers sitting in Whitehall. We all know it’s not perfect. But with this deal, we’ve secured our share of £450 million for North East Lincolnshire for the next 30 years – money for major infrastructure projects, local workforce skills, improving public transport, housing and health, tackling crime and managing flood risk. The consultation results have now been submitted to government, to undertake a statutory assessment of the ‘sufficiency’ of the

“The public share our view that this is too great an opportunity not to take”

consultation prior to taking any further steps. The 10 councils that make up Greater Lincolnshire will now meet separately to discuss the consultation results. In the meantime, there has been some ‘noise’ emanating from Westminster on the question of elected mayors since the new Prime Minister took up office. It’s clear from the consultation results that people in Greater Lincolnshire aren’t particularly keen on the idea. We’ve taken those views on board and are speaking to the Government about this and what the opportunities might be for a devolution deal without a directly elected mayor. Regardless of those talks, we’ll continue to pursue the best deal for the area as we progress through the next stages of the process to find ways to work together to bring greater prosperity to this part of the country.And in doing that, pragmatism will remain the order of the day.

Redrawing local parliamentary boundaries Sam Hartley is Secretary to the Boundary Commission for England

The Boundary Commission for England is looking at how best to draw the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies, and we need your help. Parliament has asked us, as an independent and impartial public body, to review all the constituency boundaries in England. Our task is two-fold: to reduce the number of constituencies (in England, from 533 to 501); and to make more equal the number of electors in each constituency. Currently, the number of electors in the smallest constituency in England is around 55,000; the largest on the mainland is nearly

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95,000. Our job is to get every constituency roughly equal, with each one having between 71,000 and 78,000 electors (there’s an exception to that rule for the Isle of Wight). Those two legal obligations mean that wide-scale change is inevitable. For the local government community, the implications could be considerable. It is inevitable that MPs will find their constituencies covering more local authorities; conversely, many councils will find they are dealing with multiple MPs covering their areas. Everyone in the sector will therefore be interested in, and have strong opinions on, our proposals. We’re also asking for help from local councillors to raise our profile in your area so that we can build proposals that best reflect communities across the country.

You can see our proposals at www.bce2018. org.uk, where you can compare them against existing constituencies and local government boundaries in your area. We want to know if our proposals best reflect the local community ties in your area, and whether there is a better way to draw the map. The deadline to comment using the website is 5 December, although there will be two further opportunities to have your say in 2017. We’ll also be running public hearings around the country in October and November 2016. Check our website to find out where your nearest public hearing is, and register to attend. You can also follow us on twitter @BCE2018, to get the latest updates on the progress of the review.

www.local.gov.uk


Dr Ann Limb CBE DL is Chair of South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership and a leadership coach and mentor

This is the time for local government to embrace its role in helping raise educational attainment levels across schools and in ensuring skills gaps in local communities are identified and met.

Local leadership needed on skills Councils are the country’s pivotal and respected ‘leaders of place’. Working together with businesses and community organisations, through combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), they play a critical role in making sure the children and young people they represent receive an educational experience that develops the whole person. Every local area needs all its citizens to possess the skills, resilience, confidence, adaptability, creativity, and courage to navigate a complex, interconnected, fastmoving world, in which everyone has as much personal choice as possible over their lives and careers. Even in a post-Brexit world of rising demand for services combined with continued cutbacks in public resources, there are exciting opportunities for elected members to continue to transform public service delivery through the creation of new relationships, the revision of business models, and the development of different ways of working with local partners. National government has put in place four key policy drivers which local authorities can deploy according to their local situation and needs. These are the: repositioning of further education (see p8); reform of professional and technical education through apprenticeships and the Sainsbury Review; reorganisation of local government; and reorientation of the machinery of government following Brexit. Councils have an opportunity to take the lead in harnessing the energies and ideas of key players – businesses, LEPs, skills providers, the October 2016

“There are exciting opportunities for elected members to transform public service delivery through the creation of new relationships and the revision of business models” third sector and all other stakeholders including local MPs and ‘alumni’ – in determining a collective and practicable response to policy changes. Leaders of place are the people to bring their whole community together to agree the best way for their local area to take advantage of these levers for change. I’m currently the voluntary, independent Chair of the Doncaster Commission on Education and Skills, set up on behalf of the local strategic partnership, Team Doncaster, by the elected mayor and chief executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council. The commission’s role is to help the borough create a clear and focused strategic vision for education, skills and the local economy so that the town can flourish now and in the future.

Coordinating ideas As part of our work, the commission has been encouraged by the amount of goodwill, energy, interest, commitment and good practice that exists across the largest metropolitan borough in England. Equally, we were struck by what a local head teacher told us early on in our enquiry – that “there’s a lack of infrastructure for coordination” of

ideas and practice across the borough. This is hardly surprising given the fragmentation of the education and skills system, but it is something that can be tackled through effective local authority leadership – something Doncaster has demonstrated it is open to developing, by establishing the commission. The commission’s report is due out on 21 October. This is a time for local authorities to push ahead with reform. Transformation is about building trust, managing ego needs, working collaboratively, working across political and executive boundaries, taking calculated risks, campaigning to bring all citizens on side, taking advice from independent voices, learning from best practice across this country and internationally, and above all ‘being human’. It takes time to create a functioning local authority-wide partnership in which each constituent part is committed to developing, delivering and monitoring a pan-community change programme. But it can and must be done if our councils are to fulfil their civic duties in 21st century Britain.

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Local solutions to hunger and poverty David McAuley is Chief Executive Officer of the Trussell Trust

Councils play a pivotal role in tackling the problem of hunger and poverty in communities. In the coming years, with budgets tight, the challenge will be doing more with less. The Trussell Trust (www.trusselltrust.org) hopes to help meet this challenge. A national charity, we help our network of 420 food banks deliver practical local solutions to poverty, providing three-day supplies of emergency food and addressing underlying causes of hunger, poverty and social isolation. More than 90 per cent of our food banks provide a least one additional service on site – such as welfare advice, school holiday clubs,

fuel banks or debt advice – to help people out of their crises more quickly and get them back on their feet. Often this work could not be done without the involvement of the local council. For example, Brent food bank was helped with a reduced seven-year rent on its warehouse and office space by Brent Council. This has allowed us to house large stocks of food but also host a food bank and fuel bank centre on the same site, giving emergency top-up vouchers for people on pre-payment meters as well as food parcels. Other food banks have received support ‘in kind’, from vans to free parking. Some even run joint initiatives with councils such as

“More than 90 per cent of our food banks provide at least one additional service on site, such as school holiday clubs, welfare or debt advice”

Helping older people stay independent Paul Smith is Director of Foundations, the national body for home improvement agencies

Home improvement agencies (HIAs) have been around for more than 30 years and help people across all tenures to keep their home safe, warm and secure.

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‘floating’ local welfare assistance workers, who help people get the governmentadministered crisis funds they are eligible for. This work relies on a huge volunteer effort – 40,000 people give time generously in a variety of ways. Food banks are a priceless asset for your communities but they require some help if local authorities want to maximise the benefits a project can bring. For example, food bank storage and working space is a huge challenge. If more councils could help food banks access good quality, affordable warehouses, this would free up the cash and volunteer resources, allowing food banks to expand their capacity to directly tackle hunger and poverty.

They operate in more than 80 per cent of local authority areas in England and are increasingly being run as ‘in-house’ services to deliver a better quality service for residents applying for a disabled facilities grant (DFG). Peterborough Care and Repair is a great example of a council-run HIA. As well as delivering the DFG programme, it also runs a handyperson service (pictured), installs assistive technology, helps with insulation and heating, and supports people returning home from hospital.

The HIA works very closely with colleagues in health and social care, helping to reduce admissions into residential care by 18 per cent and falls requiring medical treatment by 26 per cent in the last year. It was the very well deserving winner of the Collaboration Award at the recent HIA Annual Awards. For local authorities, this type of collaborative approach that joins services up to meet the needs of residents can be a very cost effective and efficient way of maintaining independence for increasing numbers of older people. The Government recognised the need to invest in home adaptations by more than doubling the DFG budget in last year’s comprehensive spending review. But DFG is no longer just about ramps, showers and stairlifts. There is much more flexibility in how the funding can be used and housing departments are encouraged to work with health and social care to develop joint solutions as part of the Better Care Fund. For example, in Stoke, Revival HIA runs a home-from-hospital service that helped 1,190 people last year with estimated savings of £450,000 by preventing delays and readmissions. Foundations has recently published two new reports which detail its history and how local authorities are now starting to do things differently. You can find ‘The collaborative home improvement agency’ and ‘The Disabled Facilities Grant – before and after the introduction of the Better Care Fund’ on our website at www.foundations.uk.com. www.local.gov.uk


parliament Public health funding MPs have backed the LGA’s warning that cuts to councils’ public health budgets are a false economy and thrown their support behind some of the key measures local government has been calling for to help improve people’s health and wellbeing. ‘Public health post-2013’, published recently by the Commons’ Health Committee, says the £200 million in-year funding cut in 2015/16 and further reductions to come risk widening health inequalities across communities. The report calls on new Prime Minister Theresa May to give a Cabinet Office minister specific responsibility for embedding health across all areas of government policy at a national level. Committee Chair Dr Sarah Wollaston said the “watering down” of August’s childhood obesity strategy indicated a “gap” in policy to improve health and wellbeing. She said: “Government must match the rhetoric on reducing health inequality with a resolve to take on big industry interests and will need to be prepared to go further if it is serious about achieving its stated aims.” The committee urged the Government to enshrine health into planning and licensing law, to give councils the levers they need to be able to take effective action in protecting local communities. The LGA has previously called for the Licensing Act 2003 to be amended to include a public health objective, which its survey showed was supported by 89 per cent of directors of public health, and for licensing and planning laws to take consideration of each

The Health Committee’s report is available at www.parliament.uk. For more on the LGA’s parliamentary work, please visit www.local.gov.uk/ parliament

October 2016

“Cuts to councils’ public health budgets are a false economy and threaten to undermine progress on tackling inequalities” other in applications. There was also recognition by the committee of the LGA’s key role in supporting sectorled improvement in public health, where councils share best practice with each other rather than being subject to a central performance management system.

The LGA, which gave evidence to the committee, said that since taking over responsibility for public health, many councils had developed strong links between public health and other council teams such as planning. This has seen, for example, controls brought in around the number of fast food outlets to tackle the rise in obesity, while similar links have been forged with licensing and trading standards to reduce alcohol misuse.

Prevention is key Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “We are pleased that the Health Committee backs our warning that the cuts to councils’ public health budgets are a false economy, and threaten to undermine the real progress local government has made in improving health and wellbeing, and tackling inequalities in their communities. “We have long argued that prevention is key if we are to keep the pressure off the NHS and adult social care, and improve people’s health and wellbeing. “While the Government is finding billions of pounds for the NHS over the next four years, to take vital money away from the services which can be used to prevent illness and the need for treatment later down the line is counterproductive. “Local authorities were eager to pick up the mantle of public health in 2013, however many now feel that they have been handed all of the responsibility but without the appropriate resources.” She added: “We are also pleased that MPs have backed our call that a public health objective is added to planning and licensing law, to give councils greater powers to tackle health issues in their communities.”

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councillor Celebrating local democracy Duncan Nicol Robertson

Each year, European Local Democracy Week celebrates local government and encourages people to get involved with their councils. This year, the week takes place between 10 and 16 October, with the theme of ‘Living together in culturally diverse societies: respect, dialogue, interaction’. Councils around the country will be taking part, organising events with schools and local community groups, and giving tours of town

Cllr Preet Gill (Lab) is Cabinet Member for Public Health and Protection at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

I

have always been interested in politics. My father worked passionately as a community leader for 20 years. He wanted to serve others and taught us we had a moral duty to give back and make a difference. I campaigned locally and became involved in local projects on a voluntary basis, eventually becoming a councillor in 2012. I still volunteer and have been involved in the Sikh Network trying to encourage more Sikh and female representation in politics. I have even applied to be on The Apprentice! As a mother of two young girls, I am regularly asked how I balance all this. You have to love what you do. I feel honoured that I can serve others and being in local government has enabled me to do that in a more meaningful way than I could ever imagine.

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Cllr Dan Humphreys (Con) is Leader of Worthing Borough Council

I

have been interested in politics ever since I can remember, so it was never in doubt that I would study politics at university. When I finished my degree, I was lucky enough to start my career for Tourism South East, working with the local community and businesses as their main link to government, representing them on all the main issues that affected them. I ran for election in May 2011, five years later I am Leader of the council and enjoying every minute of the challenge. What I love most is knowing that I really have an impact on residents’ everyday lives, from making sure vital services such as the weekly bin collection, grass cutting and hygiene inspections are protected to driving forward plans for regenerating the areas of the borough that need improving.

halls and talks with councillors. The LGA is using the week to promote its ‘Be a councillor’ campaign, which aims to encourage more people to consider standing for election locally. You can find out more about the campaign at www.local.gov.uk/be-a-councillor, and how it is using profiles of ordinary councillors – such as those on this page – to promote the role to potential new candidates.

Cllr Randy Conteh (Ind) is Cabinet Member for Housing, Communies and Safer City at Stokeon-Trent City Council

Cllr Jade Farrington (Lib Dem) is a member of Cornwall Council

I

trained as a local journalist then decided I wanted to find a way to do something practical to solve problems rather than write about them. I started working for my constituency MP as a caseworker and stood as a local councillor. I’m determined to get the best for my town and to make sure resources are concentrated on the issues and services that matter most to local people. I volunteer for Launceston Memory Café which supports people with dementia and their carers, and I am training as a counsellor because being elected has shown me the phenomenal need for greater mental health service provision. As well as being a councillor I’m a world champion powerlifter, and hold the national bench press record in my weight category.

I

started in local politics because I was made redundant from my job working in the mines. I got into voluntary work while unemployed and really enjoyed it, and knew how much more I could achieve for my area if I was elected as a councillor. I have now been a councillor for 14 years, and it’s hard work but I genuinely love it. Amongst my proudest achievements are the eight years of hard graft that it took to transform two local parks. I worked with the community from consultation to completion of fantastic new facilities that are loved and used by young people every day. I always vote with my conscience. If you tell the truth, speak from the heart and talk sense, then people will listen. The key is balance. I haven’t forgotten how I started and stay in touch with local residents. www.local.gov.uk


local by-elections Barrow in Furness, Parkside LAB HELD 9.9% over Con Turnout 14.1%

elections Shock result in Sheffield for Labour With the result of the Labour leadership contest due to be announced as first was going to press, it seemed appropriate to examine how well the party has performed at local by-elections during Jeremy Corbyn’s first year of office. That subject was thrown into sharp relief by a shock result in Sheffield. The Liberal Democrats who, of course, had a majority on the city council in the late noughties, easily beat Labour in the Mosborough ward – in which they had come third behind the Conservatives in May. Their share of the vote jumped by no less than 32 per cent as they successfully became the focus for all antiLabour sentiment. Since Corbyn became Leader in September 2015, we have recorded 243 local by-elections in England and Wales. In 190 cases, there was a Labour candidate at both the by-election and the preceding contest. During that period Labour has gained a dozen extra seats but lost 10 (including three in the last month), giving the party a net positive score of just two. In by-elections in London, Labour’s share of the vote has increased by two percentage points on average compared with the previous contest. Outside the capital its share has declined by 1.4 points. The Conservatives and UKIP have similarly lost ground, whereas the Liberal Democrat vote share is up – by no less than 5.6 points outside London. Tim Farron’s party can also

Cornwall, Four Lanes LIB DEM GAIN FROM UKIP 18% over Ind Turnout 24.5% Dorset, Ferndown CON HELD 26.6% over UKIP

Turnout 22.1%

East Dorset, Parley CON HELD 20.2% over UKIP

Turnout 24.3%

Gravesham, Pelham LAB HELD 16.3% over Con

Turnout 19.3%

Kent, Gravesham East CON GAIN FROM LAB 4.5% over Lab Professors Colin Rallings (right) and Michael Thrasher are Directors of Plymouth University’s Elections Centre

celebrate a net gain of 14 seats during the past year. It can of course be argued that all this is indicative of the usual ebb and flow of local politics, with little of significance happening so far from the likely next General Election. However, the key point for Labour is surely – as at last May’s elections – that it shows no signs of recovering ground from the nadir of both 2010 and 2015. Indeed, it is currently doing less well than Ed Miliband managed during his own first year in 2010/11. Then the party made 25 local by-election gains and registered an average 7.3 point increase in share of the vote. As many disappointed party supporters in Sheffield pointed out, strong growth in membership and activism is worth little unless new voters can be won over to the Labour cause. Neither the opinion polls nor local election results suggest that is happening at the moment.

See www.local.gov.uk/first for more by-election results, and more detailed statistics on all recent results

“Outside the capital, Labour’s share has declined by 1.4 percentage points. The Conservatives and UKIP have similarly lost ground” October 2016

Bournemouth, Kinson North CON HELD 2.4% over Lab Turnout 20.6%

Turnout 16%

Maidstone, Shepway South UKIP HELD 22.7% over Con Turnout 22.6% Mansfield, Yeoman Hill LAB HELD 21.4% over MIF (Ind) Turnout 23.5% Redcar & Cleveland, Ormesby LIB DEM HELD 64.8% over UKIP Turnout 27.5% Richmondshire, Catterick CON GAIN FROM IND 4.6% over Lib Dem Turnout 28% Sheffield, Mosborough LIB DEM GAIN FROM LAB 11.5% over Lab Turnout 27.2% Stockton-On-Tees, Grangefield CON GAIN FROM LAB 7.4% over Lab Turnout 30.9% Surrey, Farnham South CON HELD 7.9% over Res

Turnout 23%

Thanet, Northwood UKIP HELD 3.9% over UKIP

Turnout 25.2%

Wandsworth, Tooting LAB HELD 32.8% over Con

Turnout 20.6%

Waverley, Farnham Castle RES GAIN FROM CON 9.9% over Lib Dem Turnout 30.2% Waverley, Farnham Shortheath & Boundstone RES GAIN FROM CON 16.4% over Con Turnout 23%

first political | 31


Taxi licensing Regional events We are holding five regional one-day events to explore how members can oversee, scrutinise and enact their licensing role to best effect. These events will provide an opportunity to examine the strategic function that licensing can play in shaping your local area and keeping the public safe, and what tools are available to oversee, scrutinise and, if necessary, strengthen the service. Sessions will look at the practical decisions that a committee can make: ensuring effective decisions are made, balancing the needs of potential licensees with the wider needs of the community, and tackling specialist issues such as preventing child sexual exploitation and supporting disabled access.

20 October South West (Taunton) 2 November West Midlands (Telford) 8 November North East (Gateshead) 22 November South East (London) 29 November East (Cambridge) Further details and booking information can be found at: www.local.gov.uk/events

First lga first oct16 web  

First , the magazine for local government, October 2016

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