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ENABLING PARISH & TOWN COUNCILS IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE SINCE 1939

NALC Chief Executive's bulletin

Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech was delivered in Parliament on 14 October, setting out the government's forthcoming legislative agenda. The Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill was not among the list of bills announced, NALC will continue to press the government on this. There were welcome commitments, though, to publish bills on devolution, the environment and broadband, and NALC will also be engaging on announcements about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, social care and electoral integrity. You can read more in our news story

Meeting with Luke Hall MP

The NALC chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter, had a positive introductory meeting with the new local government minister, Luke Hall MP (who used to be a parish councillor!), on 15 October, here are a few key points:

  • Sue said she was keen to build on her good relations with previous ministers Marcus Jones MP and Rishi Sunak MP (now chief chief secretary to the Treasury), which the minister welcomed and gave Sue his mobile number so they could stay in close contact;
  • she set out NALC's vision for the future of local (parish and town) councils and explained how local councils were changing and doing more to build strong communities;
  • a discussion on local government finance and NALC's spending round submission, which discussed the subject of the 'toilets bill', councils tax referendums, access to dedicated funding streams and sector support
  • the government will shortly be publishing its response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life report and the minister is keen to work closely with us on this agenda
  • working together to take forward the Communities Framework, in particular making it easier to set up new local councils, and ensuring there was engagement over the devolution white paper

New website accessibility resources

Last year the government introduced regulations for public sector bodies' websites, which is applicable to local councils. For websites published before 23 September 2018, they will need to be compliant by 23 September 2020. The Government Digital Service recently published guidance for smaller organisations doing a basic accessibility check, we have also created a PowerPoint presentation which provides a summary of the regulations and some actions to help local councils with preparations – read more and access these resources in our news story

Smaller Authorities' Audit Appointments

The Smaller Authorities' Audit Appointments met this week. As you know this is the body set up by NALC and other sector bodies to help local councils procure and appoint an external auditor, and which has directly saved the sector some £200,000 per year. This is the second year of the new regime and it is going very well with over 97% of local councils submitting their annual audit return.

Public Works Loan Board interest rate increase

Last week the Treasury made a surprise announcement of a whole percentage point increase in the rate of borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board for new loans. Borrowing from the loan facility has continued to increase at a rapid rate in recent years due to record low rates on offer, with reports principal authorities are using the money to invest in commercial property to produce a financial return to invest in services. NALC are following this up with government, but we'd like to hear from you about the impact on local councils, both in the short and long term – please email NALC at policycomms@nalc.gov.uk

NALC Open Day

On 17 October we welcomed colleagues from county associations in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Essex, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Rutland and Yorkshire, as well as Hebden Royd Town Council, to the NALC offices for our latest open day. These days are run to enable new staff at county associations, councillors on committees as well as new member councils to meet our officers and put names to faces as well as finding out more about our work. You can book a place at our next open day on 24 March 2020, or contact farhana.miah@nalc.gov.uk for more information

Posted: Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:12 by Alison Robinson

Tags: News, NALC, National Association for Local Councils, SAAA, PWLB, Public Works Loan Board, website accessibility, Queens speech