As first was going to press, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was working through a Cabinet reshuffle that has seen some important ministerial changes in key Whitehall departments for local government.
Chief among these was Michael Gove replacing Robert Jenrick MP as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
This has been an incredibly difficult period for councils and their communities, and I would like to personally thank Robert for the support he has given to local government during the pandemic.
I have already met with Michael Gove to congratulate him on his appointment and offer local government’s support.
During the meeting, I said that it will be important that councils are backed with the resources and freedoms they need to build places and deliver more for our residents and communities.
It is therefore a positive step that MHCLG will now be responsible for driving forward the Government’s levelling up plans. We also look forward to discussing planning, building safety, funding and a host of other key issues for councils with the new ministerial team.
With a Spending Review looming, we also hope to find a friend in former MHCLG minister Simon Clarke, who is now Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
The review of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and high needs funding will be on our agenda when it comes to meeting new Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi MP, who many of us will have come to know as vaccines minister.
And we will be taking our concerns about the viability of council leisure and cultural services to new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries MP.
The COVID crisis has shown what can be achieved when government empowers councils to innovate and create new services locally. We look forward to working with the Government’s new ministerial team to ensure councils remain at the centre of the post-pandemic recovery and efforts to build back local.