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No.593 November 2015 www.local.gov.uk

the magazine for local government

Interview:

“If you design public services differently you can achieve high quality outcomes for a lower cost rather than cut a service� John Cridland CBE, Director-General, CBI

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Health and social care Finding savings from integration

Fire and rescue The benefits of collaboration

Councillor diversity Mentor support in Wales


Annual Safer Communities Conference Wednesday 9 December 2015, London This one day conference will look at emerging issues for Community Safety Partnerships including addressing Child Sexual Exploitation, the new Prevent duty, mental health and working with other partners including health and wellbeing boards and safeguarding boards to protect vulnerable victims. For more information and to book your place online, visit www.local.gov.uk/events

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Do diminishing budgets mean you have to care less?

15/10/2015 14:51


Inspiring and extraordinary

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dult social care is a bit of a theme in this edition of first, following on from last month’s successful National Children and Adult Social Services conference in Bournemouth. You can find out about a project commissioned by the LGA which is identifying real efficiencies from the better integration of health services and social care; read about our call for more funding to deal with the increased pressures these services face in the winter months; and catch up with progress on the implementation of the Care Act 2014. With a tough Spending Review expected later this month, the CBI’s John Cridland exhorts councils to be more imaginative in re-engineering public services so that service users don’t lose out. The December edition of first will be out a little later than normal so as we can bring you full coverage of the review. Finally, please do take part in the LGA’s #OurDay tweetathon, on Wednesday 18 November. #OurDay is a great opportunity to highlight all the wonderful work done by local government and the good stories we have to tell about serving our local residents – from the everyday to the inspirational and extraordinary. See p13 for more information on how you can get involved. Lord Porter is Chairman of the LGA

contents interview

news

4 Devolving business rates Housing bill published Dog wins parks competition

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5 Funding threat to statutory services Business success

14 John Cridland CBE, Director-General of the CBI

“The revenues of extra growth should be held in the area in which they’re generated”

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Editor Karen Thornton

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Design & print TU ink www.tuink.co.uk Advertising Ottway Media Solutions Write to first: Local Government House, Smith Square, London SW1P 3HZ Email first@local.gov.uk Tel editorial 020 7664 3294 Tel advertising 07917 681135 Photography Photofusion and Ingimage unless otherwise stated Cover and interview Chris Sharp, CBI and Paul Thomas Photographic Ltd Circulation 18,300 (November 2015) 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.

comment features 6 Finding savings in social care

8 Care Act update 9 Winter funding pressures

10 Blood donors 11 Fire service

collaborations 12 Adapting to climate change 13 #OurDay tweetathon November 2015

19 Councillor diversity in Wales 20 LGA chairman and group leaders 22 Thoughts on devolution 23 Getting local support for new housing 24 Transport and small business 25 Mental health champions

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regulars

26 Letters and sound bites 29 Councillor 30 Parliament 31 Local elections

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Housing and Planning Bill published

news Devolution of business rates by 2020 English councils will be able to keep all business rates income by 2020, under plans announced by Chancellor George Osborne. Grants from Whitehall will be phased out as councils move to 100 per cent retention but a system of tariffs and top-ups will remain to support areas less able to generate business rates income. Councils will be able to cut rates but only cities with elected mayors will be able to add a premium, to pay for major infrastructure projects. LGA Chairman Lord Porter said the move will help councils support businesses and provide a vital boost to infrastructure and public services. He added: “The LGA has long-argued that the current system of business rates needed reform so councils could effectively support small businesses and boost high streets. With greater local control, councils will have flexibility to reduce business rates for the types

of shops and businesses that residents want in their high streets and neighbourhoods. “Councils and businesses both agree that business rates should be a local tax set by local areas. It is right that all of the money which a business pays is retained by local government and this will be a vital boost to investment in infrastructure and public services. “Local authorities face almost £10 billion of cost pressures by 2020 so we will now seek to work with government about how this proposal can be introduced more quickly.” Councils currently have to fund half of all business rates refunds and have been forced to divert £1.75 billion from local services to cover the risk of appeals over the past five years. By 2020, local authorities will be liable for 100 per cent of refunds. “This makes reform of the appeals system even more urgent to protect councils from the growing and costly risk of appeals,” Lord Porter added.

Draft legislation including measures to build 200,000 discounted new starter homes for first-time buyers and extending Right to Buy to housing association tenants has been published. The LGA has criticised the National Housing Federation for secretly striking a voluntarily deal to deliver the Right to Buy extension, funded by the forced sale of council homes. LGA analysis suggests this will cost £6 billion over the next four years, drive up rents and the housing benefit bill, and reduce the capacity of councils to build more homes and tackle waiting lists. The 20 per cent discounts for new starter home buyers would be funded by exempting developers from paying Section 106 contributions. The LGA estimates this will see communities losing £3 billion of vital investment into building affordable housing, funding infrastructure, and supporting new developments such as roads and school places. The LGA said housing reforms must ensure local authorities are able to support house building by providing a local and stable planning system, devolving housing funding and allowing councils to keep all money raised through their assets. Cllr Peter Box, the LGA’s Housing Spokesman, said: “Councils are part of the solution in tackling our housing crisis and we urge the Government to give them more powerful means to do so, for example stronger compulsory order powers to take on sites stuck in the system and powers to make sure developers prioritise brownfield sites.”

Dog wins parks photography competition

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helmsford City Council’s first ever city parks photography competition has been won by local resident Josh Batson and his American Beagle Pickles (pictured). The competition encouraged budding photographers to get out into the fresh air and visit the city’s parks and open spaces. Deputy Mayor Cllr Philip Wilson, one of the judges, said: “It was a difficult decision, but we all agreed that this picture was representative of the lifestyle in Chelmsford. The picture boasted a sunny and peaceful setting with man and his dog enjoying the very best of what Chelmsford’s open spaces can offer. Ultimately it made us all smile and we hope that the residents of Chelmsford can appreciate the beauty of this image we have chosen.”

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www.local.gov.uk


Further cuts could threaten statutory services A further 40 per cent reduction in local government grant funding in the Spending Review would deliver a £10.5 billion knock-out blow to cherished local services, the LGA has warned. Non-protected government departments have been ordered to draw up savings plans worth, in real terms, 25 and 40 per cent of their budgets ahead of the review on 25 November, which will set out government spending plans for the next four years. The LGA has estimated that a 40 per cent reduction to core central government funding would be worth £8.4 billion and the same cut to separate local government grants would see a further £2.1 billion lost from council budgets. The LGA has already predicted councils will face almost £10 billion in separate cost pressures through government policies, inflation and demand by 2020 (see first 591) – leaving the sector facing £20 billion in cuts and cost pressures by the end of the decade. Local government would lose 64 per cent of its grant funding between 2010 and 2020. LGA Chairman Lord Porter said: “Councils have worked tirelessly to shield residents from the impact of the 40 per cent government funding reductions they have been handed since 2010. However, the resilience of local government services cannot be stretched much further. “It would be our residents who would suffer as councils are no longer able to deliver

Refit success

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habby chic store Baytree Interiors (pictured) has become one of the first to take advantage of a scheme aimed at helping new businesses move into Middlesbrough town centre. The council’s empty shop refit scheme offers financial assistance of up to £5,000 to retailers who occupy an empty town centre unit in an eligible area, to help with fixtures, fittings, security, signage and refurbishment costs. Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor Cllr Charlie Rooney said: “We all want to see a thriving town centre with a wide variety of shops and leisure outlets.This scheme is designed to encourage business into Middlesbrough and to then help them hit the ground running. Baytree Interiors is a hugely welcome addition to the town centre and I hope others take advantage of the help we can offer.”

November 2015

some of their statutory duties, like street cleaning and providing the free bus travel that is a lifeline to our elderly and disabled. “Closing every children’s centre in England would save £700 million but this would only be enough to plug the funding gap facing adult social care for one year. “Councils could stop fixing the two million potholes they fill each year to save £600 million by 2020, but this would still not be enough to keep providing free bus travel to elderly and disabled residents. “These are the difficult decisions councils will be forced to face. Many of the things people take for granted, like clean and well-lit streets, maintained parks and access to leisure centres, will become a thing of the past as a result.” Annual council spending on individual services in 2013/14 included £3.3 billion on bin collection and recycling; £2 billion on libraries, leisure centres and museums; £1.3 billion on road maintenance; £1.7 billion on subsidised bus services and free travel; £717 million on street cleaning; £690 million on parks maintenance; £530 million on street lighting; and £480 million on trading standards, noise and environmental health. Even if councils stopped providing all these vital services, it would still not be nearly enough to plug the potential £20 billion hole in their finances by the end of the decade, according to the LGA.

news in brief Invest in prevention for savings

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or every £1 spent on programmes to keep people healthy, almost double could be saved for the public purse within five years, according to LGA analysis for the Spending Review. Currently, just 5 per cent of the entire healthcare budget is spent on prevention. If £1 billion was spent on things like telehealth care and keeping people aged 40-65 active, the knock-on benefits over five years would be almost £7.2 billion. Cllr Izzi Seccombe, LGA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, said: “The Spending Review provides the ideal opportunity for government to invest in a long-term strategy which keeps people healthier – improving lives and saving money for the public purse.”

Sports funding call

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ritain’s couch-potato culture is creating a ‘lost generation’ of obese and physically inactive teenagers while sports participation is plunging. Those aged 16 and above taking part in sport at least once a week has slumped by 400,000 since the 2012 Olympics. The LGA says nearly half a billion pounds awarded to national sports bodies should instead be devolved through Sport England to councils for grassroots programmes. LGA Sport Spokesman Cllr Ian Stephens said: “Councils are best-placed to reach those who play sport or want to start doing so, as most sport takes place in swimming pools, leisure centres, parks and open spaces owned or managed by local authorities.”

Refugee funding extended

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unding for local authorities wishing to support Syrian refugees will continue for longer than one year, Refugees Minister Richard Harrington has confirmed in a letter to council leaders. Negotiations are continuing on adequate funding levels for the full five years that a person is allowed to live in the UK. Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA’s Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group, said the scheme needed to be fully funded and that no community should be faced with the decision of having to close libraries or children’s centres to meet the costs of supporting refugees.

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adult social care

features

Can integration deliver efficiencies? A new project commissioned by the LGA suggests that it is possible to make savings in the health and social care system – but only if the right decisions are made when people leave hospital, or before they end up there

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here is universal agreement that the current system of health and social care is financially unsustainable. For the older and disabled people who use these services most, the system is too frequently frustrating and it doesn’t guarantee the best longterm outcomes. For practitioners and professionals, the system is cumbersome and disjointed. Work is being done at a local and national level to resolve these issues and develop a more sustainable model for the future. Through this work there is evidence to show that greater integration and providing more personalised care improves outcomes for service users. However, there is little evidence to demonstrate how or if it will deliver savings. To this end, the LGA commissioned consultants Newton Europe to work with councils and partners in four areas to undertake a robust assessment of the opportunities for efficiencies arising from integration across the health and social care system. In particular, they are looking at patients arriving in hospital and asking:

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Could the treatment provided for planned admissions have been provided outside the hospital? Could those arriving at A&E be treated elsewhere? Should preventative help have been provided? When patients are discharged, are the correct care options available – and are they selected?

Fieldwork has now been undertaken in Kent, Swindon and Greenwich, with work about to commence in Blackburn with Darwen in December. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that too many patients were coming into higher-cost hospital settings and a number of them were staying too long, putting more pressure on services. But emerging findings from these three areas confirm that by focusing on the correct care options for patients, outcomes can be substantially improved. The findings also suggest that there is a potential saving of 9 per cent in the areas and systems studied. However, to achieve these benefits, a number of significant operational challenges may need to be overcome. One such challenge is around ensuring more

informed and consistent decision making by practitioners, service users and their families. A review of more than 1,000 individual case notes has shown that 45 per cent of decisions about care options could have been improved to achieve better outcomes for individuals and make savings. In almost all cases, the service needed already exists: it’s not about creating new services but decreasing variability of decision making, and communicating to service users and their families what support is available and what will deliver the best outcomes for those needing care. The researchers found, for example, that ward staff are often unfamiliar with the full range of services available in the community. While we can’t expect every professional to know every option, this does suggest that opportunities can be missed when discussing post-acute services with the patient and their family. Families and patients often express different preferences in terms of their care. While families and friends frequently prefer the reassurance of a loved one being cared for in a residential home, patients want to go home. Other challenges identified include making the best use of skills in the workforce to ensure resources are used to best effect; organisations working together to ensure that incentives, values and mind-sets are more aligned, with partners finding a means to share the financial risks and rewards; and being better able to demonstrate whether changes have worked. An interim report from this work will be available on the LGA website later this month and the final report will be available in March 2016. To find out more or discuss the findings, please email amanda. whittaker-brown@local.gov.uk www.local.gov.uk


Early findings •

One in six A&E visits could have been prevented by better use of GP, community, social and third sector services. One in nine emergency patients could be at home with support, or in a bed outside of hospital. Four in ten local authority service users would have benefited from a preventative service (e.g. postural stability) before their hospital admission. Commissioning by clinical commissioning groups appears to be 9 per cent more expensive than the equivalent local authority commissioning.

Case studies

Mr F, 72, with a known history of falls, turned up at A&E after hurting his back. This was his fourth fall, yet no preventative falls service had been provided.

Mrs V, 88, was ready to leave hospital after nine days, yet was delayed for a further 28 days while funding arrangements were made with her nursing home. She caught pneumonia in hospital.

Mr B, 73, should have been discharged home with clinical care for a short period of time. He went to a community bed, contracted an infection and stayed for a prolonged period of time. His health has now significantly deteriorated.

Councillor comments “We want to understand where our approach to integration is realising significant value and improving outcomes, and where there are further opportunities to reduce the burden on, and increase the effectiveness of, our health and social care system. “We see this work as a great opportunity to complement and build upon the other work we’re doing on integration and are excited about sharing the results over the coming months.” Cllr Graham Gibbens is Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health at Kent County Council

November 2015

“In Swindon, the partners across commissioners and providers found the work undertaken by Newton Europe invaluable in understanding what is working well and what needs improving in our integrated working. We will be using the analysis to shape our future plan to reduce emergency admissions to hospital and delayed discharges.” Cllr Brian Mattock is Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Adult Health and Social Care at Swindon Borough Council

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adult social care

Making progress on the Care Act

More than six months after the start of some of the biggest reforms to adult social care in a generation, how are councils coping with the practical and cultural changes required of them?

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he Care Act came into effect on 1 April 2015 and was heralded as the biggest legislative change in adult social care in 60 years. It introduced new responsibilities for councils to shape the local care and support provider market, and to promote the principles of wellbeing, independence and prevention for those who may need care and support. This means that councils should be actively supporting people to stay independent, safe and well, with a view to preventing or delaying the need for further help and support in the long run, and giving them good information and advice about what is available to support them. Other changes arising from the Act included a new national eligibility threshold for people who need care, and new rights for carers to an assessment of their needs – among other things (for more information, see ‘Must knows: successfully embedding the Care Act 2014’, available at www.local.gov.uk/ publications). More than six months on, how is the

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Care Act working and what does that mean for local councils? In July, the Government decided to delay implementation of parts of the Act, most notably plans for a cap on care costs of £72,000. But also included in this were decisions to delay the introduction of care accounts to keep track of those costs; an extension to the means test thresholds; and changes to allow those individuals receiving financial assistance from their council to pay the difference when their chosen home costs more than the council is willing to pay. The Government plans to use the additional time from delaying the care cap to ensure that everyone is ready to introduce the new system and that people understand what it will mean for them. It has also committed

to look at what more can be done to support people with the costs of care and is continuing to work with the financial sector to this end. The process and structural changes councils needed to implement by April 2015 were only part of the story: a cultural shift in attitudes and practices within health, wellbeing and lifelong care is needed as well. The LGA’s Care and Health Improvement Team has been working with colleagues in the Department of Health and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to deliver a national programme of support to assist local authorities with implementation of the Act. So far it has conducted five surveys, or ‘stocktakes’, where councils have fed back progress on preparation and implementation and highlighted areas of concern. Overall, councils have been reporting that they are confident about implementing the necessary changes but are worried about more generic issues such as workforce, cost pressures and sustainability of the social care market. More detailed follow-up discussions with individual councils took place following the latest stocktakes. Concerns highlighted within the area of market sustainability included over-provision of residential and nursing care and the need to move to communitybased models of care in some areas. Market rates were considered a challenge by several councils, both in terms of requests for uplifts and that providers have been ‘pushed to margins on price’. Other councils identified sustainability of the home care market as a concern, both in terms of working towards an outcomesbased approach and getting the right level and quality of provision with the right workforce. And many councils are concerned about the impact of the new living wage requirements. A full report can be found at http://bit.ly/1GnxJWZ The LGA has tailored individual support to authorities where needed as well as delivering a programme of regional and national support which included learning events, learning materials and toolkits. To find out more, please visit www.local.gov.uk/care-support-reform

“Councils should be actively supporting people to stay independent, safe and well, to prevent or delay the need for further help and support” www.local.gov.uk


Weathering winter pressures What used to be a seasonal peak in demand for NHS and social care services is becoming a year-round pressure on council budgets, warns Cllr Izzi Seccombe

Cllr Izzi Seccombe is the LGA’s Portfolio Holder for Community Wellbeing

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ver the last few months, councils up and down the country will have been preparing for the winter, from planning for transport disruption caused by snow and ice to refreshing plans for flooding. Probably also high on your list is the impact that the colder weather is likely to have on social care services, as we see hospital admissions rise and more support needed to help people to live independently back in their own homes after being discharged from wards. But while the name implies that these pressures peak in winter, we have actually seen pressures on social care exacerbated over the summer months – echoing our previous warnings to government that these are all year round pressures.

November 2015

Over the last six months, councils and the NHS have seen the number of delayed transfers (getting people safely from hospital and back into their homes) increase. Compared to this time last year, councils are now responsible for 30 per cent of delayed transfers, up from 25 per cent previously. In total, 5,169 patients ended up needlessly stuck in hospital on the last day of August this year. No-one’s elderly parent, grandparents or friends should be left unnecessarily in a hospital bed when they could be treated in the comfort and dignity of their own home. Councils are doing everything they can to work with hospitals to make sure they can plan discharges well, but despite these best efforts the funding crisis means that there is an inevitable shortage of social care and there is a risk that the system in parts of the country could begin to collapse. Last December’s Autumn Statement provided £700 million for the NHS to help deal with winter pressures, but social care only received a disparate amount of £41 million – a mere drop in the ocean compared to other ongoing cost pressures faced by the system.

We are determined that this can’t happen again. Local authorities have long warned that putting money into the NHS but not into social care is a false economy. Local government must have a proper percentage of the funding if we are to be given a realistic chance of alleviating the pressure on the NHS. So the LGA is calling for the Government to give a £210 million slice of the £700 million winter resilience funding pot to councils so they have a fairer share of funding to help them support the NHS through the winter by reducing bedblocking. We can’t overlook that we will still need to find a longer-term solution for the years that follow. After all, this is not a problem that is going away in the coming months or years. And as our elderly population grows in size and pressure on council funding increases, we can only expect this situation to become direr as time goes on. But we still urgently need a longer term solution that puts social care on a sustainable footing, including funding for winter pressures. Any failure to do so could mean that the hospital crises we have seen will become a regular feature – and not just on our winter calendar, but all year round.

See www.local.gov.uk/adult-social-care for support and resources, including a link to The Cold Weather Plan for England

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Championing blood donors Cllr Linda Thomas is Vice-Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Portfolio

Councils can help increase the number of local blood and organ donors by working in partnership with the NHS and encouraging staff and residents to become donors

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ll local authorities strive to engage with a wide range of organisations and charities to bring about real and lasting change in their local areas. One of the more interesting and worthwhile partnerships that has been quietly successful over recent years has been that between a number of authorities and NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). With councils increasingly working with the NHS as part of their new public health responsibilities, this is often deemed a natural addition or development to that work. There are some fantastic examples of partnership work. NHSBT has been working with the London Borough of Newham since 2010 to increase organ and blood donation

rates among its staff and local residents, and a formal partnership – the first involving a local authority – was agreed in 2011. The NHSBT attends important local events such as the mayor’s show; related features have appeared in the local residents’ magazine and on the council’s website; and, most successfully of all, Newham has recruited volunteers to act as ‘donation champions’ to help spread the message far and wide. The donation champions have had a tremendous effect locally on the figures signing up to the Organ Donor Register (ODR) and offering to give blood. Having received their initial training, these volunteers attend events, create networking opportunities and focus particularly on those hard-toreach groups, for example ethnic minority

communities, which NHSBT so badly needs in order to serve whole local populations. As a result of this sterling work, Newham has seen a 15 per cent increase in the number of residents signing up to the ODR with significant increases from ethnic minority groups. This successful experience has now enabled NHSBT to consider how best to build on its work with councils. More potential partnerships are being worked on but NHSBT is also encouraging active debate and discussion around how it can work with our sector to drive up the number of donors – so we need to consider how we can help play a part. For example, has your council considered giving staff time off to go and give blood locally, or encouraged a drive to get staff to discuss organ donation? Could elected member champions or staff champions help? Could a council become a ‘donor authority’, something perhaps akin to the armed forces community covenants that all councils have signed up to? What a difference becoming a donor authority could make – to the local authority signing up, to NHSBT, but most importantly to the local communities in that area. NHSBT spends some £4 million a year on the hire of venues and is keen to look at ways of ensuring modern, efficient and safe sites are used for the public at a minimum cost. Are we able to help with this? Perhaps there is sometimes unused space at civic centres that could be given to NHSBT for the running of blood sessions, or we could look at discounted rates on the sites we provide for hire? Another discussion NHSBT is keen to encourage is around car parking fees for blood donors. At some city centre sites, the high cost of parking their cars acts as a huge deterrent to potential donors. Could we consider reducing the cost of parking to donors or even withdrawing it completely? Every donation really does make a difference and it is vital that we do all we can to help those who wish to give. Donating blood and organs saves and enhances lives, and we think all local authorities should support it wholeheartedly on behalf of their residents.

See www.nhsbt.nhs.uk for more information about NHS Blood and Transplant. If you are interested in working with NHSBT, please email paul.ogden@local.gov.uk

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www.local.gov.uk


The benefits of collaboration The high esteem in which the fire and rescue service is held means it can provide support to vulnerable local people not just on fire safety but health matters too

Cllr Jeremy Hilton is Chair of the LGA’s Fire Services Management Committee

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revention is better than cure is a saying that fire and rescue authorities have taken to heart. Over the last decade the number of fires has reduced by half, and that is in part due to the concentration by fire and rescue authorities on prevention. We have been tireless in highlighting the dangers posed by fire through education programmes; promoted and installed smoke alarms in our residents’ homes through our home fire safety visits; and championed fire safety messages. We often work with some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, who are not only at greater risk from fire, but also have a range of other complex needs. The high esteem in which the fire and rescue service is held has meant that we can provide support to people in other ways. For example, the Community Risk Intervention Teams in Greater Manchester are led by the fire and rescue service but they work in partnership with the North West Ambulance Service, Greater Manchester Police and local authorities. The teams have developed fire prevention work to include ‘safe and well’ visits covering trips and falls, fitting grab rails and crime prevention. The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has worked in partnership with Age UK to develop SPRINGBOARD (Starting a Proactive Response, Introducing New Gains, Benefiting Older-people and Reducing Dependency). This goes beyond the traditional home fire safety assessment model. It uses data to identify people who may need extra help, and gives them advice or refers them onto other agencies (main picture). And in Gloucestershire, my own county council’s fire and rescue service is involved in joint working with the public health team in the November 2015

council to conduct ‘safe and well’ visits during this winter to try to reduce the risks which colder weather can bring to older people. Across the country, our home fire safety visits represent more than 670,000 opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of the people in our communities. The LGA has recently signed a consensus statement with NHS England, Public Health England, the Chief Fire Officers Association and Age UK reaffirming our commitment to work together to improve health outcomes. We have also helped to develop a set of principles that local areas can use as a basis for the conduct of ‘safe and well’ visits, which fire and rescue authorities can undertake, looking at a broad range of risks in the home and creating a more holistic approach to keeping our communities safe (see www. local.gov.uk/fire-and-rescue-services). Working in collaboration gives the sector more opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of our residents. The Government is clear that it wishes to see further collaboration with the other blue light services through co-location,

co-responding and joint working. It has recently launched a consultation which would introduce a new duty on all three emergency services to consider collaboration opportunities with one another to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Improving the lives of our communities should be at the heart of all three emergency services, and the proposed duty to collaborate contained within the consultation would enshrine in law what we are already doing. The consultation also proposes enabling local areas to transfer the responsibilities of fire and rescue authorities to their local police and crime commissioner. The fire and rescue service is part of local government, with its governance managed by councillors. Do we need governance changes and the resources they require to deliver the greater collaboration that ministers want? The fire and rescue service is a trusted brand. The experience of the service so far is that locally-led partnerships have been able to drive greater collaboration and cooperation, to provide the improvements in services that local communities want.

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Building resilience Ensuring new buildings such as schools and libraries are adapted to cope with the consequences of climate change can save money as well as protect valued services orcestershire is no stranger to severe weather – we experience our fair share of flooding, have the (very) occasional heatwave and sometimes have a white winter. The challenge to the authority is to not just respond to these significant events to ensure services are still available to our residents as they occur, but to prepare for future events and to turn them into opportunities. The Worcestershire Local Climate Impact Profile (LCLIP) has been recording the effects of severe weather on the area and on service delivery at the council since 2007. This evidence base shows the need to adapt to current severe weather and to the possibility that it may increase in the future. Building on from the LCLIP, we saw that there was a gap in our knowledge around the impacts of climate change in Worcestershire. This prompted us to conduct research, wherever possible. For example, we developed climate change adaptation strategies for two new primary schools and one existing primary school in Wyre Forest. The research considered official climate projections for the UK (UKCP09) and looked at the issues of potential overheating in the

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Cllr Anthony Blagg (Con) is Cabinet Member for the Environment at Worcestershire County Council

schools and how the buildings could be adapted to cope with this. We have a long history of embedding sustainability into our buildings. This movement really took off in the 1990s, thanks to our flagship build, Bishops Wood Centre in Stourport-on-Severn – an exemplar sustainable building with a green roof. We feel it is important that our buildings are built with climate change in mind – they have a lifespan of 60 years-plus, so are likely

to have to withstand different severe weather events during their use. For example, Red Hill C of E Primary School in Worcester was rebuilt in 2007. This £2.7 million project was one of the first to use a new tool, the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard (see www.ukcip.org.uk), to assess the potential impacts of climate change on the building and develop an adaptation strategy. From this, adaptation measures were built in, including: • a sustainable urban drainage scheme (SUD) using swales, ponds and underground box storage • a rainwater harvesting scheme, taking rain from approximately half the roof with other roof areas planted to reduce run-off • extra shade for pupils and teachers, provided by overhanging eaves and external canopies to the classrooms. In 2007, Worcestershire experienced severe flooding. The old school’s grounds and caretaker’s house had historically flooded, but the site remained dry, thanks to the SUD. The total cost of the SUD was much less than half the cost of a traditional drainage system, and we also avoided costs associated with flood damage and recovery. In 2012, in partnership with Worcester University, we opened The Hive (pictured), the first shared public-university library in Europe. An innovative building, both in terms of use and design, it incorporates adaptation measures including: • natural ventilation, using embedded pipework • river water cooling – estimated to cost less than a third of conventional aircooled chillers • a SUD system which successfully protected the building from rising water in the 2014 flooding • soft landscaping for biodiversity. We have found engagement with adapting to climate change has been strong, particularly where there is physical infrastructure into which we can build adaptive measures. And we have demonstrated the financial benefit. However, adaptation can be more difficult to embed in other service areas. Initiatives such as Climate Local (see below) can provide the additional support that councils may need to enable this to happen.

Taking action on climate change Worcestershire County Council is one of 107 councils involved in Climate Local, an LGA initiative supported by the Environment Agency to drive, inspire and support council action on climate change. It aims to support councils both to reduce carbon emissions and to increase resilience to a changing climate. Visit www.local.gov.uk/ climate-local for resources, workbooks, guides, and business cases.

www.local.gov.uk


Our day, your day Last year, the LGA’s #OurDay tweetathon reached three million people in its bid to raise the profile of the great work done by those in councils and other public services. Find out how you can get involved to make this year’s event even bigger and better

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OurDay, the day when we ask people working in local government to tweet about what they’re doing to serve their local communities, is taking place on 18 November. Last year’s #OurDay saw more than 8,000 people participating on Twitter, sending 16,500 tweets and reaching three million people. This year’s #OurDay is expected to be the biggest yet, coming a week before the Chancellor’s Spending Review. #OurDay began in 2012 as part of the UK’s contribution to International Social Media Week. We wanted to encourage more public sector organisations to use social media to engage with people in their communities and this seemed like a great way to do it. We spent a long time considering what the name should be and in the end we decided that public services are for everyone – we’re all touched by them in some way at some point in our lives, which is why #OurDay seemed appropriate. It could be used by those working in public services to tell people about what they do and the wide variety of roles, but equally, it could be used by members of the community to say something positive about their local services. #OurDay is an opportunity for people working and volunteering in public services to tell people what they do on an average day, providing services to the community. From councillors, teachers, highways engineers and foster carers to chief executives, football coaches, waste operatives and environmental health officers and many more – it’s a day to celebrate the fantastic work done by local government and tell the good stories, from the everyday to the inspirational and extraordinary. All you have to do is share your public service story on Twitter using the hashtag #OurDay throughout Wednesday 18 November. To help you, here are some tips: • include a quirky picture – a tweet with a November 2015

photo or image will see, on average, twice as much engagement include a fun video – make the most of your council’s YouTube channel by sharing your best videos via Twitter on #OurDay reference an event that’s happening locally on the day – a school open day, a story time session at the library, a charity coffee morning, a training workshop, a staff conference reference a key individual that people will take an interest in – from mayors talking with school children to councillors visiting elderly residents use additional hashtags so that more people get involved – some examples are #localgov, #ukgov, #libraries, #health, #devolution, #skillsgap, #socialcare, #housing, #apprenticeships get a conversation going – in previous years parks teams have answered

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gardening questions and councillors have held surgeries via Skype encourage others to tweet pictures they’ve taken run a competition – for example, how many calls will our contact centre receive today? retweet other people’s tweets – encourage them to retweet yours run a mini-tweetathon locally alongside #OurDay – for example, last year Gloucestershire referenced a monthlong tweetathon promoting services for older people.

See www.local.gov.uk/our-day for more detailed top tips, frequently asked questions, a web stamp to add to your website, and a draft press release for local media

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interview Voice of business Councils need to take back powers from central government – but then use them as commissioners rather than providers of public services, argues CBI Director-General John Cridland CBE

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s George Osborne outlined a radical reform of business rates at Conservative Party conference, John Cridland said the hairs on the back of his neck “immediately rose” with an initial sense of trepidation. Keeping all business rates income by 2020 will mark a significant victory for councils, which have long said the move would provide a vital boost to infrastructure and public services. But it was when the Chancellor pledged to abolish the uniform business rate that the outgoing Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) feared bigger bills for business across the country. In fact, all councils will be able to cut rates but only cities with elected mayors will be able to add a premium to business rates, to pay for major infrastructure projects. “I don’t believe taxation should be set up and down locally,” Mr Cridland told first. “That level of fragmentation is bad for the economy because it leaves businesses with great uncertainty and complexity and with a significant risk at a time of pressure on local government.” Giving local authorities the power to cut business rates is expected to lead to a boost in enterprise and economic activity in their areas. In return, those which successfully

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promote growth and attract new business will keep all their increased business rates revenue. Mr Cridland, stepping down as CBI boss this month after five years in the role and 33 years at the organisation, said he hopes this will spur councils to take forward a pro-growth approach. He said: “We fully support that the revenues of extra growth should be held in the area in which they’re generated. Surpluses should be held by those who are bold in having new housing growth, new business development – absolutely. “The Chancellor said those councils that believe they can generate more revenues by cutting business rates should be allowed to cut business rates. That still may lead to differentiation but it’s differentiation in the right direction, it’s positive for local businesses.” The CBI has warned the Government that only further fundamental public service reform in the Spending Review will deliver sustainable public finances and the strong productivity needed to lift the economy. Mr Cridland said: “Businesses across Britain have for five years believed that the most important job of government is to put right the public finances. And that’s because if they don’t put right the public finances

then businesses cannot borrow and cannot invest if the sovereign credit isn’t rock solid. So we want them to do that. “But we fully appreciate the job is only half done and half done with most of the low-hanging fruit already pulled. And in local government those cuts are front-end loaded, so local government has faced even more pressure. www.local.gov.uk


PHOTOS CHRIS SHARP AND PAUL THOMAS PHOTOGRAPHIC LTD

“I don’t believe taxation should be set up and down locally. That level of fragmentation is bad for the economy because it leaves businesses with great uncertainty and complexity”

“We believe government’s going to need to be more imaginative in re-engineering public services so that service users don’t lose out. We don’t think efficiency savings are enough anymore. We think actually you have to go back to first principles and work out how to deliver an even better service with smaller input. “I think there are plenty of examples November 2015

where if you design public services completely differently you can achieve high quality outcomes for a lower unit cost rather than cut a service.” Councils have warned that another 40 per cent cut to council funding from central government in the Spending Review would leave them facing £20 billion in funding cuts and increased cost pressures by the end of

the decade, which would devastate local services and communities. Mr Cridland admires the way local government has coped with funding pressures in recent years while continuing to provide high-quality services and improving outcomes, but said there is still scope for them to be even more bold and innovative. He said: “What makes local communities buzz is strong civic leadership working jointly with strong business leadership. I think you can’t have one without the other. You clearly can’t have strong business leadership if local authorities feel disenfranchised because local authorities are the democratically elected representatives of the community, not the business community. “But you can’t have strong civic leadership if that strong civic leadership isn’t working in genuine partnership with the local wealth creators. “Businesses will talk to me about two local authorities, divided simply by a local authority boundary, one on either side of the boundary. One is being really

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imaginative about working with other authorities, working with partners and sharing back-offices, for example. “And the other is pursuing a lowest cost tendering approach with a transactional approach to outsourcing or no outsourcing at all. I think the first of those two is much more likely to be more successful for its residents and its citizens than the second.” Councils and businesses both agree the next five years should be driven by the opportunity of devolution, and with more decisions over services being taken closer to where people live. A total of 34 devolution bids, from cities, towns and counties in England, have been submitted to the Treasury, and they include proposals for greater local powers and funding over housing, transport and skills provision. The LGA has said at least £80 billion in economic growth could be unlocked if the Government shifts widespread powers and funding to local areas to free them to remove barriers holding back businesses. The CBI is adamant any successful devolution deal must demonstrate a clear leadership structure, a commitment to minimising bureaucracy, and how the deal would support economic growth.

One of government’s priorities in this Spending Review is to promote growth and productivity. A recovery in productivity growth to 2.2 per cent per annum is needed to achieve sustainable economic growth, according to financial projections. However, since the financial crisis, no G7 economy has seen average annual productivity growth of more than 1 per cent. The CBI and LGA have both pointed to infrastructure, education and skills as crucial drivers of productivity growth.

Skills gap Councils have called for an end to decades of centralised control over local growth funding, further powers to boost local apprenticeships and close skills gaps, and an end to the disparity of £1.4 million spent on each mile of the strategic road network and £32,000 on each mile of local roads since 2010. While conceding councils “must have the resources to keep the country moving”, Mr Cridland said “big, bold, visionary infrastructure” cannot be delivered by councils on their own and needs a “national solution” led by government.

He also adds: “None of us can secondguess skills demand. In reality, business isn’t any better than local government at predicting skill needs. It’s a changing world. Skills are moving so quickly. “I don’t think it works if central government sets out the number of hairdressers and the number of engineers needed. But I’m not sure it would work any better if local government working with the local enterprise partnership (LEP) tried to predict it. I think what the local council working with the LEP should do is try and facilitate it and make sure there are no blockages in a fundamentally market-led system.” Father-of-two Mr Cridland joined the CBI as a policy adviser in 1982 and held several jobs, including deputy directorgeneral, before being appointed to the top post. He may be walking away from the organisation after three decades but he is determined not to let his experience and expertise go to waste. He said: “I’m certainly not going to hang up my spurs and I look forward to returning in some form of role or roles with a particular interest in the issues of skills, labour market and education.”

Public service reform Mr Cridland said councils also need to be ready to give up control to fully embrace public service reform. He said: “I think it’s become quite binary in local government and I don’t think it’s a party divide, I think it’s the imagination and boldness of the council and the council leadership team. Some councils have really gripped this. Some councils are still not accepting that the days in which local government can deliver everything are over. “The role of local government as a commissioner rather than always being the deliverer (and there are times when you should be a deliverer) is a role which we think local government in some cases has taken to with enthusiasm. “Councils that have begun to see themselves more as commissioning bodies rather than delivery bodies, where they work with third sector and private sector, they work with public sector mutuals and the public sector traditionally, deliver services for the best outcomes for the lowest input price. “And in a world of devolution I think there are even more opportunities because now we are re-empowering, re-enfranchising local government through devolution deals. So I think the way forward for economic growth and for public service delivery is to take those powers back from central government but then use those powers more as a commissioner than a deliverer, working with whoever is the best person to deliver.”

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www.local.gov.uk


“I don’t think it works if central government sets out the number of hairdressers and engineers needed. But I’m not sure it would work any better if local government tried to predict it” November 2015

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Efficiency opportunities through health and social care integration Background

Emerging themes

It is recognised by key partners from health and social care that the current system is financially unsustainable.

By relentlessly focusing on the correct care pathway for service users, significantly improved outcomes can be achieved. This work has further demonstrated that there is clear bottom up evidence of efficiencies of a significant scale.

Work is being done at a local and national level to resolve these systemic issues and develop a more sustainable model for the future. However, while there is evidence to show that greater integration and personalisation improves outcomes, there is little evidence to demonstrate how financial savings will be delivered. To this end, the LGA have commissioned Newton Europe to work with councils and partners in five areas to undertake a robust assessment of the efficiency opportunities of integration across the health and social care system. Full findings from this work will be reported by the LGA in March 2016. However, we are now able to share emerging findings from three of the areas.

However, in order for this benefit to be realised a number of operational challenges may need to be overcome, which include: 1. more informed and consistent decision making by practitioners, service users and their families. 2. taking a system wide approach to optimising skills in the workforce. 3. getting the system fundamentals right. 4. understanding what integration means in different parts of the system. 5. delivering real transformation.

An interim report sharing findings will be available on the LGA website at the end of October. The final report will be available in March 2016. To find out more about this piece of work or to discuss the findings please contact: Amanda Whittaker-Brown Programme Manager, Productivity Local Government Association amanda.whittaker-brown@local.gov.uk www.local.gov.uk

Stephen Knight Associate Director Newton Europe stephen.knight@newtoneurope.com www.newtoneurope.com


comment Leighton Andrews AM is Minister for Public Services in Wales

Councils provide vital services to their communities. From schools to social care, roads and pavements to parks and leisure centres, from libraries to the collection of waste and recycling, we are all dependent to a greater or lesser extent on our local councils. It stands to reason, then, that the people who make decisions on our behalf are in tune with and representative of their local communities. They should be a crosssection of their local community, young and old, male and female, black and white. But this is not the case in our town halls in Wales. In January 2014, an independent report said the make-up of councils was a “poor reflection” of the communities they serve, with: • 80 per cent of councillors aged over 50 • 72 per cent men • 99 per cent white. There is no county or county borough council in Wales in which both sexes are equally represented. More often, women make up between 20 to 30 per cent and sometimes less. The average age of councillors in Wales is around 60 and has remained stubbornly within that range for many years. The number of non-white councillors is miniscule even in areas of Wales with relatively large numbers of ethnic minority citizens. To address this, the Welsh Government has launched a package of activities to improve diversity in democracy. These include a publicity campaign, work with employers, an exit interview scheme, support for candidates with disabilities, action for political parties, and improvements to the local government candidates survey. I regularly meet highly motivated people, very often women, who have a keen interest in community issues. They have drive and November 2015

Improving the diversity of councillors in Wales

determination, but don’t feel able to stand for election. I want to change this. So this autumn I launched our latest activity, a mentoring programme designed to empower people from a range of backgrounds to stand for future elections. The programme is looking for people who are one or more of the following: 45 or under, female, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, from an ethnic minority, or disabled. It offers people access to one-to-one and group mentoring, training and support and an opportunity to shadow a councillor. Whether they are discouraged by the working patterns or they think they don’t conform to the usual type of councillor, I want to challenge misconceptions and remove barriers.

The mentoring programme will help us move away from the ‘old boys club’ image and encourage people to come forward. This is not simply a matter of equality principles – important though that is – but the need for council chambers to be filled with people who have a diverse range of life experiences and different aspirations. The results of the mentoring programme will be apparent when we see how many participants decide to run an election campaign. But there will be other achievements along the way: how many people from under-represented groups we support on the programme; how many people with disabilities are provided financial support; and how many employers are signed up as project supporters.

If you are interested in getting involved in the programme, or just want more information, you can find it by visiting www.gov.wales/diversityindemocracy, emailing DiD@wales.gsi.gov.uk, phoning 029 2080 1048, or following us on Twitter at #DiDCymru. See also p29, on effective ward councillors

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group leaders’ comments Business rates responsive to local needs

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am writing this having just returned from a very busy but thoroughly enjoyable Conservative party conference in Manchester. It was great to see so many Conservative councillors and I was delighted that both our LGA Conservative Group fringe meeting and our evening drinks reception were full. Two of the recurring themes of the conference were the key role that Conservative councillors played in securing the election of a Conservative majority government in May and the extent to which local government has successfully embraced the localist reforms of the past five years.

Within this context, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s speech contained the truly seismic announcement that councils will be able to keep all of their business rates income locally. In addition, councils will also be able to cut business rates as much as they like to attract new jobs and investment, while city mayors, if they have the support of their local business community, will be able to add a premium if they feel that this would benefit the local economy. Make no mistake; this is the biggest transfer of power to local government in living memory and something that the

“This is the biggest transfer of power to local government in living memory and something the LGA has long argued for”

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

LGA has long and consistently argued for. I would like to place on record my thanks to the Chancellor for listening to our arguments and delivering this very significant reform. I believe that it will enable us to create a business rates system which is buoyant, responsive to local needs and which promotes local growth through incentives. Thanks are also due to Communities Secretary Greg Clark and his ministerial team for the work that they have done within the Government in relation to this. It now falls upon all us, whatever our political affiliation, to use this power to make a real difference to our local communities.

chairman’s comment

The financial freedom to create growth and support services

Lord Porter is Chairman of the LGA

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his month we received the welcome news that councils will retain 100 per cent of their business rates income, something the LGA has long argued for. This is a great outcome for councils, who want to effectively support small businesses and boost their local economy. Prior to this much needed change, councils have been hugely restricted in their ability to introduce discounts and incentives to local businesses. Now, though, locally-set taxes will feed directly into the infrastructure and investment that a competitive and enterprising area needs.

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Business rate retention is something our members prioritised during the last Parliament. As a result of our relationship with the new team at the Department for Communities and Local Government, councils can now spend more time planning how to turn £26 billion into a vital boost for infrastructure and public services. I hope that, like me, you will see this as a move towards the financial freedom we have long desired from central government. They are listening to us, and appreciate the huge role we play in community life. While this is good news, we will continue to seek to encourage the Treasury to introduce this quickly. We are also pressing for the

urgent reform of the business rates appeals system. The LGA will, of course, continue to lobby for the Spending Review to offer councils a stable financial footing that will help them plan for the future. By the time I next write to you, we will have a clearer picture of what the next four years will look like for councils. Between now and 25 November, we will work hard to promote our Spending Review submission to the Government, which seeks to streamline public services, generate investment, protect social care and health, and strives for the best outcomes for all areas.

“Locally-set taxes will feed directly into the infrastructure and investment that a competitive and enterprising area needs” www.local.gov.uk


group leaders’ comments

Cllr Jim McMahon OBE is Leader of the LGA’s Labour Group

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

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

Fair funding for devolution

Business rates revolution

Forcing the sale of council homes

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evolution has the potential to change how our country works for the better. Over the next two months the Government will have the opportunity to make that potential a reality by passing a radical devolution bill supported by sustainable fair funding. Devolution could reignite democracy by giving real power to local communities, unlocking potential economic growth and revolutionising public services so they are designed to suit the needs of local communities and not the targets of Whitehall. Devolution of power from Whitehall to communities is one of the most radical ideas of our generation. Inspired by Scottish and Welsh devolution, it has its origins in the grassroots of local government and is an idea that the sector should continue to campaign for. But devolution without fair funding is like a car without an engine. Fair funding is the only way to pay for services and deliver economic infrastructure. Without the funding streams and fiscal powers to pay for new responsibilities, the hope of radical devolution will be replaced by a reality of cuts and failure. This will leave communities without the services they value and the public with a sour taste in their mouths. The Government should be rightly complimented for its approach in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill. But if it is followed up by further deep cuts to local government funding it will make the Bill worthless.

ur consistent call for devolution of real power and money to councils has been heard, with the announcement that business rates will be devolved by 2020. We want to bring more public services together to run more effectively at a local level. Now businesses, instead of Westminster, join our residents as our paymasters as well as our partners with the shared objective of improving our local economies. It is ever more important to keep an eye on the real goal of good quality of life for our residents, where our income and outgoings balance – places where our local businesses thrive, bringing money for the essential local services, housing and infrastructure that we need, all without damaging the very places where we live. To tackle the big challenges now facing us, councils will benefit from an ever more open and inclusive approach with shared cross-party responsibility. Devolution forms the central debate of the Independent Group conference on Monday 16 November. The session will hear from Douglas Carswell MP (UKIP), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), Cllr Julian German, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture at Cornwall Council, and Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl. We’ll also be discussing public health, Right to Buy and a new counter-extremism bill, expected shortly. Our conference is always a hugely enjoyable and significant event. Please join us – see www.lgaindependent.local.gov.uk

“Devolution without fair funding is like a car “Businesses join without an engine” our residents as our paymasters as well as our partners”

t my party’s conference in Bournemouth, housing was a hot topic. The Government’s announcement that it will allow housing associations to ‘voluntarily’ introduce the extension of Right to Buy to their tenants makes it red hot. The move, supported by the National Housing Federation (NHF), has gone down like a ton of bricks with those across the political spectrum. Council leaders are fuming that the NHF has secretly attempted to strike a deal to voluntarily deliver the extension on the back of forcing the sale of council homes. Liberal Democrats have been clear that you can’t solve Britain’s housing crisis by flogging off the few affordable homes this country has left. Funded by forcing councils to sell off their social housing, which would drive up rents and the housing benefit bill and lower the capacity of councils to build more homes and tackle waiting lists, this is a step backwards. The new announcement that developers would be allowed to avoid building homes for affordable rent makes matters worse. Forcing Right to Buy on housing associations was a stupid policy before the election, and it remains a stupid policy now. Sceptics may think that the ‘behind the doors deal’ is to avoid putting the plan to parliamentary scrutiny. If the Tories are serious about housing they should take immediate action to allow councils to borrow funds to build the homes we desperately need.

“Forcing Right to Buy on housing associations is a stupid policy”

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

November 2015

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Time to trust the people Douglas Carswell is the UKIP Member of Parliament for Clacton

What does localism actually mean? For decades, the Establishment parties in government have claimed to devolve power from central to local government. But scratch beneath the surface, and little has changed. Central government still determines everything from building to business rates. Police and crime commissioners are told what to do by the Home Office.

Rather than pay lip service to localism, UKIP is showing what it really looks like. Instead of whipping our councillors to a party line, we respect their local mandate, encouraging them to be independent-minded and address local concerns rather than national politics. Instead of one-party control by a cabinet, many of our councillors are pushing for a return to a more open and balanced committee system to decide things. This means less danger of cliques, and more chance for cross-party agreement. It also means better decision making. But true localism demands real devolution. That means giving local people control of planning, ensuring that new construction is in the interests of the communities they affect, not just the developers. It means more direct

democracy, allowing major decisions to be made by binding local referenda if demanded by the people. UKIP wants to see local councils given much greater fiscal autonomy. We would like to see town halls – rather than Whitehall – set the business rates that are right for them. Trust in Westminster is lower than ever. Voters around the world are rejecting the centralisation of power by remote elites. But the Establishment parties fear real devolution because they don’t trust the people. UKIP is different. We recognise that the closer people are to the decisions that affect them, the better government is. Communities and individuals should have the right to run their own lives. It’s time to put the people in power.

Devolve powers, not spending cuts Caroline Lucas is the Green Party Member of Parliament for Brighton, Pavilion

The Green Party has always believed that power should be held locally whenever possible and appropriate. It’s for that reason that we support measures which seek to redistribute both political and economic capital to communities across the UK. As things stand Britain’s power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few. In 2013, London and the South East together accounted for more of the UK’s economic output than the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humber, South West and East of England combined. Big political decisions are almost always made in Westminster – and local government is all too often simply an administrator for government cuts. For devolution to be a success, local decisionmaking bodies need to be given real power. This means giving them the chance to use innovative, participatory budgeting and the power to run, regulate and own local transport services.

It also means empowering them to tackle one of the most pressing issues of our time – the chronic housing shortage and spiralling rent prices. Local authorities can be part of the solution, but only if they are given the licensing and rent capping powers they need. Although Greens support power being devolved, this new settlement must not be used to mask further damaging spending cuts to local authorities. Green councillors across the country report the devastating consequences

of government cuts targeted at local authorities. From social care provision at breaking point in Kent to children’s centres closing in Solihull and housing services being slashed in Reading: the situation is bleak. People in Britain are desperate for change. For too long now politics has been played out at a distance, far removed from people’s lives. Local authorities – guided by the will of communities – should have the funding and the power to make decisions when possible and appropriate.

Douglas Carswell MP and Caroline Lucas MP will be taking part in a discussion panel session on devolution at the LGA Independent Group’s annual conference in London on Monday 16 November, see www.lgaindependent.local.gov.uk/conferences

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www.local.gov.uk


How to get homes built with strong popular support Nicholas Boys Smith is the founding director of Create Streets

Create Streets is a social enterprise that encourages the creation of more urban homes in conventional, terraced streets rather than complex multi-storey buildings. Many councillors have said to us: “We agree with what you are saying but what can we do? We feel boxed in by the planning system or by developers claiming that it is only ‘viable’ to build up and to build horrid.” So here’s a short guide to making homebuilding more popular and (ultimately) easing the planning system. You should push for a proper factual understanding of what people like, embed this in strategy and decision-making; and push for economic decisions to be made on the basis of longer not shorter term economics. This need not be expensive. We recently ran a ‘pop-up poll’ on a £0 budget. In total 283 people took part. We asked residents which of four types of housing they would most want to see built on an urban street very near to where they lived. We found very strong differences in support for different types of building. Most (87 per cent) preferred the two options which most clearly referenced historic housing forms and which had a very strong sense of place. This was nearly seven

November 2015

times more than the 13 per cent who preferred the two more original, innovative forms, which had won 10 architectural awards. Although we cannot claim any nation-wide significance to these findings, they do firmly corroborate previous polling and academic research. They were also done on a budget of precisely nothing showing what you can do thanks to new technology. With a little money we also commissioned Ipsos MORI. This poll corroborated our findings and showed that design matters. Popular design halved (yes, halved!) local opposition to development. But unpopular design halved support. So here are our top tips for getting more homes built: • Find out what actual numerical evidence exists on what types of built form, material, typology and style local people prefer (we have yet to meet a council team that can answer this question with statistically robust data). • If there is no data, do some proper research, using pictures and polling to get a usable and meaningful understanding. If necessary, do it yourself using online polling. • Publish the results. Ask officials how they intend to embed this evidence in the council’s strategy and development control decision making.

Find out if any borough strategy or other rules make it hard to produce the type of built environment that people most prefer. Changes might be necessary. • Encourage communities to form neighbourhood forums and use neighbourhood plans – not to be Nimbys but to positively set out the types of urban form and buildings that they like. • Don’t be fooled by the old lie that high density must equal high rise or large blocks. With the right urban design and planning you can normally achieve high (though not ludicrous) densities within a perfectly conventional streetscape. • Don’t be fooled by viability assessments. Every developer we have spoken to admits in private that you can make them say (nearly) whatever you want. Viability assessments must be transparent. • Push for whole-life costings of buildings not just short-term economics. Huge buildings’ economics look much less good understood through this prism. The question is not ‘how do we build more homes’ but ‘how do we make new homes more popular’. The direct planning revolution is coming. You, as an elected councillor can, if you chose, be at the vanguard of this necessary revolution. Please do – for all our sakes.

See www.createstreets.com/councillors for Create Streets’ councillors’ guide, and reserve a ticket for its 15 January webinar on creating popular places at https://www.eventbrite. co.uk/e/webinar-how-to-create-streets-a-councillors-guide-tickets-18952003954

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‘Protect everyday transport from cuts’ Stephen Joseph is Chief Executive Officer of the Campaign for Better Transport

The Government’s Spending Review is underway, and there are concerns about what this will mean for transport. The Government strongly supports big new projects on roads and railways – but protecting these could mean that the big cuts in transport fall heavily on the rest. Campaign for Better Transport and other groups have been expressing concern about the impact on what we’ve been calling ‘everyday transport’ – the transport used by most people on a daily basis. There’s already a £12 billion backlog in local road maintenance, and our research has shown that 2,000 bus routes have already been withdrawn or cut back. Despite the Government’s support for cycling, much of the current funding for cycling and sustainable transport is due to end next year. Politically, this will cause the Government problems. If voters see worse potholes on their local roads and further bus cuts, while big new

road projects like a trans-Pennine tunnel and rail projects like HS2 go ahead, they will not be pleased. Economically, local roads in poor condition will harm local businesses and put off investors, while further cuts in bus services will stop people getting access to jobs, education and town centres, and lead to social isolation for older people. We’re therefore arguing that the Spending Review should protect and support everyday transport, such as local road maintenance, Bus Service Operators Grant and the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. But we also want the Government to promote smarter public spending, such as a cross-government ‘connectivity fund’ to support local public transport that enables access to jobs, education and health services. A crossgovernment ‘active travel fund’ would similarly improve health and the economy while tackling congestion. Reducing or even just re-scoping some trunk road schemes would help pay for better local transport. The Government faces hard choices in its Spending Review – big projects and capital investment or diverse, smaller, local transport with more revenue funding. We hope they’ll choose the latter.

Small business, big impact Michelle Ovens is Small Business Saturday’s National Campaign Director

Every local authority knows that the small businesses in its area make a crucial contribution to both local and national economies. Small Business Saturday is an annual grassroots, not for profit campaign that puts small businesses across all sectors in the national spotlight. Last year 16.5 million adults went out to support a small business on Small Business Saturday with 64 per cent of the UK aware of the campaign. This year, Small Business Saturday will be on 5 December with the strapline ‘five million small businesses, one big day’, and councils will have an important role to play in helping their local

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small businesses to get the most out of this year’s campaign. We had some great council involvement last year but we need more. We need local authorities to raise awareness by promoting the campaign, holding or supporting local events

on or around 5 December, and helping local small businesses connect with each other so they can share ideas, offer each other support, or run joint promotions or activities. Council involvement last year was as diverse as the small business sector itself. It ranged from the timing of switching on Christmas lights, to putting on free park and ride buses or suspending parking regulations. Highlights included 16,000 people visiting a Small Business Saturday market outside York Minster organised, in part, by City of York Council; a special councilorganised food and drink fair in Grantham’s George Centre; and Tower Hamlets Council producing publications for local residents listing local shops and other small businesses in East London. Specific content is available now for local authorities on the campaign website, www. smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com, enabling them to access information and inform the campaign of any activities or events happening in their area. So, we urge you all, please get involved. www.local.gov.uk


Countering the stigma of mental illness Cllr Colette Wyatt-Lowe (Con) is Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health at Hertfordshire County Council and a Mental Health Champion

One in four adults in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some stage in their lives. The figures are not new and shouldn’t be news to any of us. Furthermore, if we look at the ripple effect, most of the population encounter mental illness in some form, through friends or family members. So why, in the 21st century, do we still shy away from talking about it? The truth is that mental illness is still surrounded by prejudice, ignorance and fear. A recent survey, carried out by Time to Change (an anti-stigma campaign run by mental health charities) found that nine out of ten people with mental health problems reported the negative impact of stigma and discrimination on their lives. Additionally, it is also much more difficult for people with mental health problems to access treatment than those with physical injuries. While the effects of depression are equally as real as those of a broken arm, just a quarter of people with a mental health condition will get treatment; those who do, find a healthcare system which is often difficult to navigate. Historically, matters relating to mental health have been seen as the responsibility of the health profession alone. This needs to change. Mental illness has an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year. We all have a role in ensuring better comprehensive mental health treatment at every level; in the workplace, schools and colleges. In fact, wherever there is a need. This is especially the case now that public health is once more the responsibility of local authorities. We can influence people at grass roots levels; getting them to understand the importance of looking after mental, as well as physical, wellbeing. Seven mental health charities have joined together to create the Mental Health Challenge, in recognition of the key role local authorities

play in implementing mental health strategy in our communities. As part of the challenge, elected members are asked to become mental health champions; promoting mental health and voicing the concerns of service users and voluntary sector groups in relation to the issue. Becoming a mental health champion has presented me with an opportunity to improve access to the services we deliver and remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness. At Hertfordshire County Council, we want all our residents to live healthy and independent lives and feel safe in their communities. We are committed to tackling health inequalities by working with our partners across the county. Together we can put on programmes to help tackle mental health issues that occur in our neighbourhoods and communities.

“It is much more difficult for people with mental health problems to access treatment” November 2015

The Hertfordshire Health and Wellbeing Board, which Hertfordshire County Council is part of, has launched the Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health through a series of events, exhibitions and communications activity. We’ve been calling on local residents to share their mental health experiences for those currently suffering with mental illness. The response has been amazing; the way people are openly sharing their stories and getting support through social media has been an incredible stride forward. We are beginning to see some positive engagement from people around the issue. Obviously we still have a long way to go. Our campaign (pictured) is creating networks and partnerships which are all working together for better mental health. Our challenge now is to build on the success of the Hertfordshire Year of Mental Health and make sure that good mental health remains a top priority for years to come.

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letters The challenges of housing policy

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Creative approach to building more homes Tackling the housing shortage requires us to be creative. So Wychavon planners have given the green light to a new type of housing development which will be the first of its kind in Worcestershire. Rooftop Housing Group will build 10 affordable homes, some private housing, allotments and a new village hall in Tibberton near Droitwich. But unlike other housing developments in the county, the scheme is unique as it has been led by the Tibberton Community Land Trust – a charity made up of more than 100 local people who will be responsible for the development of the new facilities for the benefit of the community. Local residents have been directly involved in designing the layout and appearance of the homes and new village hall through a series of public consultations. Homes will be allocated to those with connections to the parish of Tibberton, to help local people continue to live in the area. The project has been three years in the making and Wychavon is supporting the scheme by either gifting or leasing some of its land at a discounted cost to the community land trust. Tibberton Parish Council is also backing the development. This scheme not only delivers new affordable homes to meet the needs of local people, but the creation of the new village hall and allotments will deliver a much wider benefit for the whole community. Cllr Richard Morris (Con), Wychavon District Council

ere in South Lakeland we sometimes refer to ministers’ pronouncements as ‘second bottle policies’. It’s easy to picture them being scribbled down on the back of a menu and, next morning, being handed to a bemused civil servant with the instructions to ‘make it happen’. Recent statements on housing policy appear to fall into this category. Homes for just under half a million pounds that are seen as ‘affordable’. Proposals to sell off houses that don’t even belong to the Government. Large cuts to the income of our housing associations. All of this coupled to the exhortation to build more homes. How about 200,000 – does that sound enough for the Today programme? Does anyone ever consider asking those councils that are actually seeing homes built in their areas? Councils led by all three parties which are meeting the challenges dumped upon us by these ministers and who are trying to cope with what sometimes seems to be daily attempts to destabilise the housing market. We’ve spent five years putting together a local plan for more than 6,000 homes in our area (a 12 per cent increase in current housing stock) and underpinning it with a requirement that 35 per cent be affordable. Really affordable – as in £110,000 for a three-bedroom home, and half for sale and half for rent. Imagine our feelings when, completely out of the blue, we hear the Prime Minister telling us that he’s going to replace this with a proposal to build ‘starter homes’ which will cost up to £250,000 and replace our current programme. Does anyone up there ever consider what it’s like for our officers, who have to try to work out what all of this means? No, of course not – as long as it gets them on their feet at the conference. We’ll work out the details later… Cllr Peter Thornton (Lib Dem), Leader, South Lakeland District Council

What do you think? Please submit letters for publication by emailing first@local.gov.uk. Letters may be edited and published online

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www.local.gov.uk


Successful benefits campaign hits £2m mark

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iddlesbrough’s unclaimed benefits campaign, It’s Your Right To Claim, was launched earlier this year to assist people who are unaware they are entitled to welfare assistance. In January, in its first week of operation alone, more than £130,000 was found for people attending walk-in sessions at North Ormesby Community Hub. Since then the money reclaimed for those unaware of their entitlement has continued to spiral and the figure now sits at £1.9 million. At various community sessions we have been able to help people from all walks of life and in all manner of scenarios that require assistance. This campaign has proved to be staggeringly successful in assisting people in understanding the benefits system and their own entitlements. Cllr Tracy Harvey (Lab), Middlesbrough Council

Flexible working for parents

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roydon is set to become a flexible working borough to make employment more accessible to all, in particular parents and carers, and help reduce child poverty. The council will also seek accreditation from Timewise, a company which works with local authorities to influence local employers and increase flexibility in the job market. Through gaining this status, the council will be encouraging other employers in the borough to follow its lead and implement a flexible working culture within their own organisations. A survey of single parents in Croydon was carried out last year by the council in partnership with Jobcentre Plus and children’s centres, and found parents reporting high childcare costs and the lack of flexible job opportunities as barriers to finding employment. By becoming a flexible working borough, we hope to make the labour market in Croydon

November 2015

more accessible to all, and at the same time reduce poverty and promote fairness across our communities. We want to change the culture of working in Croydon and debunk the myth that flexible working is any less of a job than traditional full-time employment. Cllr Alisa Flemming (Lab), Croydon Council

Reduce VAT on tourism

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s Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, I was delighted that the Liberal Democrats approved a motion at their recent party conference calling for a reduction in VAT on tourism from 20 to 5 per cent, thus becoming the first party to make this official party policy. In common with many coastal towns, tourism is our main industry with some 4.8 million visitors spending around £255 million each year. When indirect spend is added, the total contribution to our local economy is £346 million and provides the lifeblood of our town. Daily, I receive unsolicited emails offering me foreign holidays at bargain rates. Hardly surprising when you realise that the UK is one of only three EU countries to charge the full rate of VAT on tourism, leaving our businesses at a big disadvantage. Far more common are rates of 5-10 per cent or even 3 per cent in Luxembourg, so the change that we are proposing would only be creating a level playing field, but would be a major boost to our economy. How can this be afforded in a period of austerity and wouldn’t it lead to reduced income for the Exchequer? Studies show that in fact after three years the Chancellor would be in profit because more tourists would holiday in the UK; more people would be employed, paying tax instead of claiming benefits; and corporation tax payments would go up. The case for change is compelling. I know that many individual members of other parties support this call: hopefully they will work with us to persuade the Government to take action and make the UK the place to take your holiday. Cllr David Tutt (Lib Dem), Leader, Eastbourne Borough Council

sound bites Cllr Ralph Berry (Lab, Bradford) “Glad I stopped for the last bit of #NCASC15. Some welcome positive messages to a bruised #socialwork profession from Minister.” www.twitter.com/CllrRalphBerry Cllr Mark Parker (Conservative, Solihull) “Local flexibility on Business Rates could help encourage Hauliers to use M6 Toll if they are rewarded with discount via Business Rate.” www.twitter.com/Cllr_MarkParker Reigate and Banstead Borough Council “Ever wondered what we get up to at RBBC? Find out on November 18 and join us for the #OurDay tweetathon!” www.twitter.com/reigatebanstead Sue Brown (Scope) “Today was my best day at #NCASC15 thanks to inspiring speeches from @Crouchendtiger7 and @ADASSdavidp.” www.twitter.com/SueBrownSense Cllr Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Kirklees) “I’ve put in an amendment to #childcare Bill to try and persuade Govnt to enable free hrs to be available in sch hols @LibDemLords.” www.twitter.com/KathPinnock Cllr James Murray (Lab, Islington) “I would use my hoverboard to get to the town hall this morning but it’s raining and we all know hoverboards don’t work on water #Oct21st2015.” www.twitter.com/jamesmurray_83 Do you have a blog or a Twitter account we should be following? Let us know. Email first@local.gov.uk

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Know your patch

Have you ever wondered what proportion of your residents are employed or how many local schoolchildren are obese? How does that compare to other places? LG Inform gives you and your council easy access to up-to-date published data about your local area and the performance of your council and fire and rescue service. Whether you’re interested in scrutiny, a particular service area, or simply need an overview, it can help you review and compare performance with other authorities and assess whether your council is meeting your residents’ needs.

In addition, we now offer LG Inform Plus to complement LG Inform. This subscription service gives users the power to drill down from authority wide information to much smaller areas. The service offers more detailed performance and contextual data helping you to make the right decisions about the services you provide to your residents. It provides direct support, online tools and a data feed to use in your corporate systems and external apps. www.local.gov.uk/lginformplus

To view LG Inform and register visit: www.lginform.local.gov.uk


councillor Ward matters In the first of a series of articles on the nuts and bolts of being a councillor, first looks at what makes an effective ward member Councillors have many responsibilities and roles – from leading the development of plans and strategies for an area to providing democratic accountability for public services. But perhaps the most important is the work that you do at a neighbourhood level – the ‘ward councillor role’. You represent the ward and the people who live in it and have a responsibility to communicate council policies and decisions to them. Much more than this, being an effective ward councillor means dealing with the people in your community, understanding the issues and concerns they face and being equipped with the skills, confidence and ability to take action and make a difference. Significantly, it is also often the role that local people value most – more than your function in attending committee meetings. The LGA has an online workbook on being an effective ward councillor (see tinyurl.com/q9l2as9), and there are resources around community leadership available at tinyurl.com/phqahxa. Email elearning@local.gov.uk for a user name and password to access these resources as free e-learning modules. But the best guidance is to be found from those at the coalface – so first asked three councillors for their top tips on being an effective ward councillor.

concerning them, they also need to be aware of who you are,” she says. “I make sure that I publicise my weekly surgeries well and attend lots of local events. This shows people that I care about what is going on in the community. “I keep parish and town councils aware of what is going on with the unitary authority and send out regular newsletters to keep people informed. People like to receive information in many different ways so it is important to keep expanding on your communication tools.” She concludes: “Make sure your residents know who you are and how to get hold of you; and keep people informed of what you are doing for your community.”

Cllr Jim Hakewill (Con, Kettering and Northamptonshire) says you should draw on all your life experiences, especially teamwork. “An effective councillor is all about being part of a team, all of whom want to deliver quality local services. If you truly believe that when referring to the people around you, the right word is ‘our’ as opposed to ‘the’ when referring to officers, partners and councillor colleagues, success is guaranteed,” he says.

“The team you have joined will see you as a respectful and effective councillor and will be motivated to help you deliver in your ward. The ‘our’ and ‘the’ test is your best friend and guide!” He believes effectiveness comes through listening – as when you are elected, you are surrounded by people who will always know more about local issues than you do.

Cllr Ed Turner (Lab, Oxford) identifies the key to effectiveness as “being in touch with the community you represent and care about, being willing to listen to views, sometimes to challenge but always being prepared to meet people half-way. Being, on the one hand, responsive to everyday concerns, but also having a sense of the ‘big picture’ and where you want to get to for the area.” He adds: “Don’t be afraid to ask for meetings with senior folk, whether councillors or officers. Set out problems, and ask what is going to be done. Use email as your filing cabinet, don’t keep a mountain of paper in your living room!”

Cllr Charlotte Barnes (Lib Dem, Shropshire) believes communication is the key to being an effective ward councillor. “People need to know that they can approach you about something that is November 2015

Is there a particular area of your work as a councillor on which you would like more help or advice? If so, we would like to know! Please email first@local.gov.uk. See future editions of first for articles on chairing meetings, managing relationships with officers, and scrutiny

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parliament Making welfare work The Welfare Reform and Work Bill, currently before Parliament, seeks to tackle the root causes of unemployment, low pay and rising housing costs. There are several proposals in the legislation affecting local government, including clauses on the Troubled Families programme, social mobility and welfare benefits. But it is the proposal to reduce the rents paid by tenants in social housing by 1 per cent a year for four years from April 2016 which has attracted most attention. The move will reduce the Chancellor’s housing benefit bill but will cost councils around £2.6 billion by 2019/20, the LGA has estimated – equivalent to building almost 19,000 new homes over the four years. The proposal is likely to have a significant impact on local and central government’s joint ambition to build more homes, support people into work and reduce welfare spending, the LGA has warned. Giving evidence to the parliamentary committee scrutinising the Bill, LGA Chairman Lord Porter said: “We fully support the Government’s aim to drive down the cost of the housing benefit bill. The trouble is this is probably the least sustainable way of bringing it down.” He went on to call for council houses to be

removed from the public sector debt book and for councils to be allowed to borrow against the value of their housing stock in order to build more new homes. Elsewhere, the Bill proposes a statutory level of reporting on the Troubled Families programme – something the LGA has questioned when the current process is already working well. The Bill also renames the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission as the Social Mobility Commission, includes a reduction in the benefit cap and proposes freezing certain social security benefits and tax credits. The LGA has highlighted the integral role of councils in improving social mobility – while emphasising that councils’ scope to provide integrated support to families, good quality education and early years provision is currently highly constrained by funding cuts. The LGA also argues that long-term reductions in welfare spending will only be realised by increasing people’s income through employment and reducing their outgoings, primarily through affordable housing. Local government is keen to work with central government to join up services locally to tackle the root causes of unemployment, low pay and rising housing costs, a point we will be continuing to make as the Welfare Reform and Work Bill continues its passage through the Commons this autumn. However, to do this the Government needs to empower councils to take a lead role in house building by lifting housing borrowing limits, giving councils the freedom to set Right to Buy discounts, and letting them keep 100 per cent of all council home sale receipts locally. Giving councils greater powers, resources and flexibility will enable them to deliver new homes and transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of families.

For more on the LGA’s parliamentary work please visit www.local.gov.uk/parliament

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Legislative update

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he LGA has secured positive amendments in the Lords to the Cities and Local Devolution Bill, introducing requirements for central government to report annually on devolution and to subject all new legislation to a ‘devolution test’. These are important changes for local government, ensuring that central government updates Parliament regularly on the progress of devolution for all areas of the country and providing a safeguard against centralising legislation from other government departments. The Enterprise Bill has now been published and will be debated in the Commons this autumn. The Bill establishes a Small Business Commissioner, requires regulators covered by the Bill to have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth, reforms business rates appeals and restricts exit payments for those in public sector jobs. The LGA is calling for the Education and Adoption Bill, currently before the Lords, to recognise the essential role of councils in driving up standards in schools. The Childcare Bill seeks to increase the provision of free childcare to 30 hours per week. The LGA supports the Government’s intention to make childcare more affordable. However, we are highlighting the need to provide adequate funding. The recently published Immigration Bill contains measures to tackle illegal working, enhance the enforcement of labour market rules, and deny illegal migrants access to services including housing and banking. It also includes new powers for immigration officers, and other measures to improve the security and operation of the immigration system.

www.local.gov.uk


local by-elections

elections Persuading people to vote proves problematic Almost two months after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader and there is little sign of a revolution at the ballot box. Certainly the wider electorate does not appear energised by the autumn’s political manoeuvres. In just a single contest could more than three in ten be bothered to cast a vote – and that in the North Yorkshire rural fastness of Richmondshire. Elsewhere, the average turnout scarcely topped 20 per cent at a time of the year before the clocks go back when participation is usually relatively high. In Labour-held seats, it failed to reach even that less than dizzying height. The recently formed Corbyn-supporting Momentum group has clearly got its work cut out to reverse Labour’s long-term problem of persuading all the party’s putative supporters actually to go to the polls. Nor do the results themselves herald an immediate dividend for Labour. The gain from the Conservatives in Cherwell was in a seat that the party won in 2015 and 2014. Both major parties increased their share of the vote compared with May, with UKIP and the Greens falling back. Indeed, UKIP racked up just three second places out of 13 seats contested. In the run-up to the General Election it was not unusual for them to finish second on half of all occasions. Elsewhere, Labour hung on comfortably enough in its own territory, but made little headway in traditionally Conservativesupporting areas. The only other seat to change hands was one of a pair of vacancies in Woking. A husband and wife team of Liberal Democrat councillors resigned in the adjacent Goldsworth East and Goldsworth West wards. In East, the Lib Dems retained the seat, sharply November 2015

Professors Colin Rallings (right) and Michael Thrasher are Directors of Plymouth University’s Elections Centre

increasing their share after being soundly beaten by the Conservatives in May. In West, the Conservatives put an end to a seven-year run of Liberal Democrat victories as the main beneficiaries of a slump in UKIP support since 2014. As clear an example as you could wish of how the benchmark year can impact on perceived party fortunes. Next May’s elections will be fought against the background of 2012’s results. For Labour, 2012 marked its best local performance since the day of Tony Blair’s first parliamentary landslide in 1997. The party scored a national equivalent 39 per cent of the vote as it gained more than 800 seats and control of an additional 30 councils. It will be tough to match that performance in 2016, with significant loss of vote share or seats bound to raise questions about the leadership. For UKIP, on the other hand, it was the last round of local elections before they jumped ahead of the Liberal Democrats into third place, in votes at least. They contested just three in ten of all wards and won a paltry seven seats. Their task, the opposite of Labour’s, will be to demonstrate that 2013-15 was not just a flash in the pan, that they can overcome the vagaries of first past the post and effectively challenge both Labour and the Conservatives in different parts of the country.

See www.local.gov.uk/first for more by-elections data

Cardiff, Riverside LAB HELD 12.5% over PC

Turnout 23.9%

Cherwell, Banbury Grimsbury & Castle LAB GAIN FROM CON 6.9% over Con Turnout 21.8% Derbyshire, Derwent Valley CON HELD 29.5% over Lab Turnout 22.7% Haringey, Noel Park LAB HELD 46.2% over Lib Dem

Turnout 18%

Haringey, Woodside LAB HELD 40.5% over Lib Dem

Turnout 23%

Norfolk, Loddon CON HELD 38.4% over Lab

Turnout 23.2%

Richmondshire, Richmond East CON HELD 2.3% over Ind Turnout 37.1% South Cambridgeshire, Bourn CON HELD 26.6% over Lib Dem Turnout 15.3% South Hams, Totnes GREEN HELD 0.6% over Lib Dem

Turnout 27.3%

South Norfolk, Chedgrave & Thurton CON HELD 34.4% over Lab Turnout 23.1% South Oxfordshire, Sandford & The Wittenhams CON HELD 6% over Lib Dem Turnout 21.4% Wakefield, Pontefract North LAB HELD 24.1% over UKIP Turnout 15.8% Woking, Goldsworth East LIB DEM HELD 2% over Con Turnout 27.6% Woking, Goldsworth West CON GAIN FROM LIB DEM 2% over Lib Dem Turnout 23.9% Wyre Forest, Blakebrook & Habberley South CON HELD 23.1% over UKIP Turnout 21.6%

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he financial challenges facing public authorities are unremitting, and there is a strong likelihood that these challenges will continue for at least the next five years. When George Osborne announces the 2015 Spending Review this month we know that public authorities will be tasked with delivering ‘more for less’ by driving greater efficiencies and delivering better value for money across the whole public sector. Of course, many public authorities have already risen to this challenge and continue to deliver high quality services despite the tightening of the public purse. Organisations are working with suppliers to ensure that public money delivers maximum value. They are looking for opportunities to share services and collaborate. Many are also working with public buying organisations, consortia and in partnership with commissioners in other parts of the public sector to negotiate better rates for resources and contracts. As the UK’s largest public sector buying organisation, YPO understands the pressures facing public sector organisations. We recognise that the way in which public services are delivered across all sectors needs to be more efficient and cost-effective in order to sustain demand and deliver value. Established by a consortia of local authorities in 1974, YPO has helped drive public sector efficiency savings through its bulk buying

YPO is a not-for-profit organisation, meaning we return our profits to the public purse for reinvestment in public services. In 2014 we gave back, through dividend returns, almost £8 million to our customers and member authorities. power for product supplies and centralised contract services for over 40 years. Today, our vision remains to ensure that every single public organisation achieves the best possible value for money when procuring its goods and services. YPO continues to be fully owned by 13 local government member authorities and has an expanding list of associate member authorities nationwide — most recently welcoming authorities such as London Borough of Hillingdon, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Fire Service. Over the past four decades, we have worked tirelessly to help public sector customers make use of their ever squeezed budgets. In addition to local authorities, we work with a wide range of public bodies including schools, charities and the emergency services. In 2014 alone we passed on savings of over £10.3 million to member and associate member authorities through using YPO framework contracts. Here are just a few ways that we work with public authorities to deliver real savings: • By collaborating with a broad network of public authorities to combine requirements we are able to negotiate better prices and achieve the best contract value from the supplier base, whilst ensuring quality and delivery are not compromised. • Negotiating and managing contracts can

Our public service ethos is focused on giving back, not only to the public sector but also by supporting regional economies. Whilst we support local authorities in their objectives around procurement efficiencies by providing better value, we also recognise the need to demonstrate that services are generating growth and employment opportunities. For example, in just one year, YPO spent almost £76 million within Yorkshire and Humberside alone with suppliers based in the region. We know from working closely with our local authority customers that lots of great work is being done to deliver high quality services whilst under pressure to reduce costs and deliver greater efficiencies. We want to encourage local authorities to share best practice, recommendations and ideas on how more can be achieved with less. Join the discussion at https://www.linkedin.com/ company/ypo or visit www.ypo.co.uk.

First Magazine - November 2015  

CBI John Cridland talks to First about public service delivery

First Magazine - November 2015  

CBI John Cridland talks to First about public service delivery

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