NALC Chief Executive's bulletin

Spending Review

On 25 November, the chancellor of the exchequer delivered the Spending Review which sets the government's departmental budgets for 2021/22. The chancellor's statement included announcements and new investment on a range of issues of interest to local government including council finances, adult and children's social care, schools, housing and rough sleeping, building safety, infrastructure, roads maintenance, digital connectivity and measures relating to the end of the EU transition period next year.

You can read the initial reaction by the NALC chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter. While the new Levelling Up Fund will provide crucial new investment to improve local communities, NALC will be pressing the role of local councils in how this will operate, alongside continuing to highlight the ongoing lack of financial support to councils most impacted by the pandemic. The referendum threshold for increases in council tax for principal councils will remain at 2% and be confirmed in the forthcoming Local Government Finance Settlement; NALC have continued to lobby for local councils to retain their current flexibility and expect that to also be confirmed in the Settlement. NALC are continuing to analyse what the Spending Review means for the sector and will share more information next week.

NALC Smaller Councils Committee

NALC's Smaller Councils Committee met remotely on 24 November, here's a summary:

  • The committee expressed its sympathy at the recent sad loss of Cllr Gordon Thurston who had made a significant contribution to the sector for many years
  • Agreement to hold monthly self-organised meetings of Committee, with the first meeting in 2021 a 'thinking' meeting and others extended to be a smaller councils network with an open invitation to smaller councils and focused on specific themes
  • The work of the climate change task and finish group was commended, some issues were identified for further consideration including the involvement of county associations and the weekly County Officers Zoom meeting
  • There was positive feedback on the coronavirus webpage and associated advice and guidance, as well as the Make A Change campaign, with further guidance on co-option, identified
  • The item on young people was deferred and in the meantime, the Committee would share examples of their own council's work with and for young people

Young people

Staying on the subject of young people, this is the third big theme identified by the NALC Policy Committee in addition to health and wellbeing and climate change and will be the focus for much of the work over the coming year. The forthcoming National Assembly will be getting the ball rolling with a discussion on this subject including sharing examples of how they as councils and county associations are already working with and for young people. If you're interested in getting involved please email policycomms@nalc.gov.uk.

Tree Charter Festival Day 2020 and newsletter

Sustainability is the theme of the November Tree Charter Newsletter published this week, with stories showing how Burbage Parish Council, Leicestershire and Rutland, Haydon Wick Parish Council, Wiltshire, and Wells City Council, Somerset, have introduced planting initiatives to the benefit of their communities. This includes trees, flowers and wildflowers which will have a positive effect on local wildlife habitats, the mental health of these communities as well as mitigating carbon output. If you have any stories about how your local council is playing its part to protect trees and woodland, please email policycomms@nalc.gov.uk.

Meeting with the National Audit Office

This week Jonathon Owen met Mike Newbury, the new director of the Local Audit Code and Guidance team at the National Audit Office. They discussed a range of issues including the Redmond review, appropriate assurance regime for local councils as they increase in size and spend, and the exercise of public rights ensuring a balance between individual enquiries and the costs for the wider community. Helpfully Mike has wide experience of the sector and is an advocate for local councils.

NALC Lobby Day 2021

Please can you save the date for the annual Lobby Day which will take place on 2 February – more information to be released in the coming weeks.

Media coverage

There was a good article in The Guardian this week about how local people have had to improvise during the pandemic and come together, and the potential role of local councils in building back better – with really positive mentions for Buckfastleigh Town Council, Frome Town Council and Queen's Park Community Council.

Posted: Fri, 27 Nov 2020 16:33 by Alison Robinson

Tags: Comprehensive Spending Review, NALC, NALC Lobby Day 2021, NAO, National Audit Office, Smaller Councils Committee, Sustainability, Young people, media coverage, news