On 30th April 2018 Brighton & Hove City Council invited senior officers from across the local authority to attend a round table discussion on the future of local government. This event formed part of the city's 2030 Vision consultations.
The discussion was chaired by Simon Newell, Head of Policy, Partnerships & Scrutiny at Brighton & Hove City Council and led by Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Local Government Association & Geoff Raw, Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove City Council.
We captured highlights from the discussions you can watch here:
Particular insights were gained from the Local Government Association with Mark Lloyd touching upon current areas of interest including:
Health & Social Care
- Govt's Green Paper expected Summer 2018, however this only covers Ageing Well and not people of working age so will be imperfect
- General belief the Care Act is fit for purpose but the budgets are not - more options for paying for care will be key
- Currently hard to see changes to tax system to enable this
Costs of Children's Services vary very significantly across authorities and LGA have worked with Newton Europe to better understand why. Reasons include:
- Demographics and strength of markets are 30-50% of the variance across authorities
- Also lack of comparison is 5-15%
- How councils work with partners and internally is 35-65%
- LGA will publish a report in 2018 which will analyse how 8 'typical councils' perform
Housing, Planning & Homelessness
- The UK only got near the 300k housebuilding target when councils were leading the charge.
- There is some debate about ringfencing of Right to Buy receipts, extending their timeline for their use, but the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government not aligned.
- MHCLG much more engaged on rough sleeping – being led by new Minister, Heather Wheeler) – want to halve by 2022 and eradicate by 2027.
- Review due to be published in Summer 2018 – may or may not include the need for Government to be pro-active on released from prison and hospital, and on the unintended consequences of welfare reform policies.
Apprenticeships & Skills
- Numbers of apprentices have dropped by 1/3 since the Levy was introduced.
- Currently too many skills programmes across Government – LGA published a review on this HERE
Industrial Strategy & Post-Brexit
- The Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, The Rt Hon Greg Clark is very supportive of local government having been ex-DCLG Secretary of State.
- New Devolution Framework will be published Summer 2018 – likely to be around larger geographies than council areas, e.g. city regions – But potentially good for Brighton & Hove.
- LGA was neutral on Brexit in order that it could be central to all debates post referendum.
- Only MHCLG officials understand that impacts are local, and want LEPs to deliver – all Departments diverted by the workload of dismantling national-level treaties.
- BEIS may prefer more Mayoral Combined Authorities, but not exclusively (consistent with Greg Clark’s views since 2011).
- Cornwall seen as a benchmark council at this stage for non-Mayoral devolution model
- There is the £8 billion Shared Prosperity Fund – LGA seeking to ensure that this does not become silo-ed across BEIS, Defra, DfE, etc.
Local Government Flexibility
LGA advocate that councils should have no restrictions around their activities, for example:
- Brighton & Hove should be able to raise a hotel tax.
- HRA borrowing limits must be scrapped (councils need to over-subscribe to the £1 billion identified through the LG Finance Settlement).
- 100% Business Rates Retention without extra responsibilities.
Future of Local Government
- LGA expect the next Spending Review to ‘price in’ the right shape of LG in terms of size and shape – as opposed to enforcing it.
- Voting turn-outs remain low – need communication that shows that councils touch most aspects of residents’ lives every day.
- LGA have published a guide on engaging with communities HERE
- Hackney has done some excellent work in getting where people are; examples HERE
The 2030 Councillor and the 2030 Council Officer
This is ongoing work for LGA but specifically officers of the future need to be able to:
- Lead not manage
- Drive change and organisational development
- Develop skills
- Act as municipal entrepreneurs
- Engage with communities in the best way for those communities
- Be 'on tap' not 'on top' of your business
- Have careers which span across services & sectors
- Rethink services in a 'perma-austerity' context
- Work in fluid and complex organisations
- Manage relationships, especially around complex common causes and coalitions - Important to be place leaders, not service managers
- Understand that only a few things matter - so make them primary focus
- Manage work/life balance
Councils need to focus on recruitment & retention and pay & reward, and understand that distributed rather than heroic leadership is the model.
The LGA is clear that councillors need to be clear that their key roles are around stewardship and orchestration.
Click below for more information on our 2030 Vision and events: