It was great to meet many of you at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this month. The Conference wrapped up in Birmingham with some great announcements, some of which the LGA and in particular our Chairman, Lord Porter, have lobbied for a long time, including:
- Scrapping of the cap on the amount councils can borrow against their Housing Revenue Account (HRA) assets.
- Banning combustible cladding systems on certain types of buildings and the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman to champion home buyers and hold developers to account.
- A £200 million fund to divert young people from crime.
Monday’s Budget was one of the most positive for local government for many years, demonstrating that the Government recognises councils are under financial pressure and uniquely placed to deliver local services for their communities. I am grateful to our Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, for listening to our concerns and welcome the following key announcements:
- An additional £240 million in 2018/19 and £240 million in 2019/20 for adult social care. The Budget provides a further £410 million in 2019/20 for adults and children’s social care.
- £420 million for local authorities to tackle potholes, repair damaged roads and invest in keeping bridges open and safe.
- £400 million this year for schools in England to spend on their equipment and facilities.
- A £675 million Future High Streets Fund.
- A £84 million fund spread over five years for up to 20 local authorities to help more children to stay at home safely with their families.
- A further £500 million for the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock 650,000 homes.
- The allocation of £200 million of previously announced funding to supercharge the rollout of full fibre broadband in rural areas.
The LGA’s Budget briefing can be downloaded here. Attention now shifts to the publication of the forthcoming Social Care Green Paper and next year's Spending Review. Both have the potential to put local government finance on a sustainable long-term footing and, building on a positive and well-received Budget, I urge the Government to seize the opportunity to do so.
We also need to do our bit, with the removal of the HRA cap there is an expectation that local authorities will deliver. Demonstrating early progress on this will help enhance our case for further devolution.
Cllr James Jamieson
Leader, LGA Conservative Group
Conservative Group Lead Members Activities
Our Group Leader, Group Executive and Conservative members of the various LGA governance bodies take time out of their busy schedules to meet with ministers and key policy makers on a regular basis and lobby on your behalf. Here are some of their recent activities over the last month:
- Cllr James Jamieson met with Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Care, Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of Health Select Committee and Chis Green MP.
- Cllr John Fuller met with the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
- Cllr Martin Tett spoke alongside Kit Malthouse MP at the Party Conference about Housing and Planning.
- Cllr Peter Fleming will take part in a LGA digital showcase conference.
LGA Conservative Group Regional Seminars
The LGA Conservative Group, in conjunction with the CCA, is organising a series of political briefing seminars across the country. Our first regional seminar was in Birmingham on 19 October and the next seminars will be held on:
- 25 January 2019 in Cambridge
- 1 February 2019 in Devon
- 28 February 2019 in Kent
We will be sending out invitations for these events in due course, but if you wish to register now or have any questions please feel free to contact us.
One Public Estate funding
The One Public Estate (OPE) programme, which is delivered by the LGA, Cabinet Office and MHCLG, has recently announced its latest funding round. A national fund of £15 million is available and new and existing OPE partnerships are invited to apply. Funding is open to projects that support the delivery of collaborative public sector land property projects.
This application round will place particular emphasis on increasing housing supply. Councils have until 30 November to apply and further details on OPE can be found in the prospectus.
BID Loan Fund
The Business Improvement District (BID) Loan Fund is an initiative backed by £500,000 of funding from MHCLG. This facilitiates loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to assist with the development of new BIDs, and BID partnerships in town and city centres in England. Further details can be found here.
'No Deal' Brexit guidance notes
The Government has published a series of guidance notes on how to prepare for Brexit in a ‘no deal’ scenario since the summer. The final notes, published very recently, cover issues including waste shipments, health marks on food products and imports of high-risk food.
To help assess the implications for local government, the LGA’s updated briefing summarises both the ‘’known’’ and ‘’unknown’’ under a ‘no deal’ scenario. This explores the issues that local government needs to address as a result of national advice from the Government, future announcements on regulatory and legislative change that could affect councils in the run-up to March 2019, and information on community cohesion and civil contingency.
Please contact the LGA if you have any information on the opportunities and challenges from your own areas that you would like to share with us.
James Brokenshire recently launched the Private Rented Sector Access Fund, a £20 million scheme designed to help people who are, or are at risk of becoming, homeless to secure their own home. Bidding for the scheme is open to all local councils, who are permitted to submit separate bids and applications can be submitted until 21 November 2018.
Business Rates Retention and Fair Funding Task & Finish Group
The Business Rates Retention and Fair Funding Task and Finish Group met on 18 October. The Group considered an alternative way of administering the BRR system that MHCLG believe will remove the impact of appeals on local authorities, and the potential content of the forthcoming consultation on system design. It also considered the latest update on the Fair Funding Review.
The LGA has commissioned a model which will enable authorities to examine different options for business rates retention and allow all parties to compare their ideas on an evidence backed, like for like basis. This is in the process of finalisation. Once completed it will possible to access it from the LGA website here, alongside previously commissioned work on the Fair Funding Review.
LGA Councillors' Forum
The LGA holds a regular Councillors' Forum. This is a cross-party meeting which discusses topical issues related to local government. Please click here to download the agendas for the meeting.
In addition, the Conservative Group holds a political meeting before the Councillors' Forum where we often welcome DCLG and other Government Ministers. These meetings are therefore a good opportunity to discuss important political issues in closed session.
All Conservative councillors are welcome to attend the Councillors' Forum and the group meetings. If you wish to do so please email email@example.com or call us on 020 7664 3264.
The next Councillors' Forum will take place on Thursday 24 January 2019 at 12.30pm.