I am super-excited to be writing this article, having been asked to serve as Chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board for the next 12 months. It is, I believe, the most rewarding role within the LGA board structure. I will now have the opportunity to eulogise and champion all of the amazing and innovative work councils are doing to improve the lives of people in the communities we serve.
Sector-led improvement continues to go from strength to strength, year after year. Last year, we delivered 140 peer challenges, 20 per cent more than the year before. We also trained more than 800 councillors, recruited 120 graduates for the sector and helped councils save in excess of £100 million. And we know how much that support is valued; almost 100 per cent of council leaders and chief executives tell us that our sector-led improvement offer has had a positive impact on their authority.
“Sector-led improvement is saving more than £5 for every £1 spent, a fraction of the cost of improvement work in other parts of the public sector, and with better outcomes
One of our most innovative schemes that has had great success in the sector is our Housing Advisers Programme. This funds the provision of independent expertise for those councils undertaking specific projects to tackle the effects of the housing crisis in their local communities, including advice on housing delivery, planning for homes, and reducing homelessness.
In the previous two years of the programme, the LGA has funded more than 100 councils to help them build the homes their areas need, reduce homelessness, plan for ageing populations, understand the student housing market, increase supply of modular housing, and more.
This year, the LGA will support a smaller number of larger, strategic housing projects. The Housing Advisers Programme will award up to £50,000 to each project for the purpose of securing expert advice in transforming how a service or partnership meets the housing needs of communities.
As the Innovation and Improvement Board considers the needs of the sector over the next year, we will – in the autumn – be making sure you have the opportunity to shape our sector-led improvement offer so it reflects what your council needs in the future. We have already heard that councils want us to look at climate change and sustainability in relation to our improvement offer, and that’s something we’ll be taking forward quickly over the coming months.
There is a huge opportunity for us to look at sector-led improvement in the round and set out a bold, local government vision of how this approach to improvement can be enhanced over the next decade. It is vital, with a Spending Round looming, that we continue to set out why the sector-led improvement approach has been so successful in terms of impact, innovation, improvement, and value for money.
Sector-led improvement continues to be an amazing local government success story that we should be rightly proud of. Now, we should look forward to embedding its strengths, bringing fresh ideas and innovation, and securing its funding for the future.