The LGA is raising key local government concerns with parliamentarians ahead of major decisions affecting the sector.
Giving evidence to parliamentary select committee inquiries offers a valuable opportunity to put councils’ ideas, proposals for reform and key issues to MPs and Peers.
Our evidence often forms part of the recommendations to national government contained in the committees’ final reports, so this work is especially important when it comes to major policy developments.
As we head towards some big decisions on a government Spending Review, devolution, social care and planning, to name a few, the LGA has been pressing councils’ concerns at a series of recent committee hearings.
For example, Sarah Pickup, the LGA’s Deputy Chief Executive, gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Select Committee, outlining the value of adult social care and the importance of its local dimension.
Ahead of the Spending Review, she set out the funding needed to maintain current levels of service and made the case for investment to tackle other challenges, such as unmet need.
She also highlighted the need for a new deal for care workers, and for lasting reforms to put care and support on a sustainable long-term footing.
Giving evidence after her session, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock MP recognised the important contribution of the adult social care workforce and the need to reform the care and support system.
Meanwhile Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, gave evidence to the International Trade Committee’s inquiry on freeports. He said freeports should provide a stimulus for regeneration and flagged the importance of local government being involved in their development.
He noted some councils’ concerns that government’s proposals do not address how regulatory standards are to be upheld. Cllr Bentley also highlighted our work on promoting a green and sustainable recovery, which will be important when considering the environmental impact of freeports.
“Councils need to be enabled to innovate and create services tailored to their communities”
In another example of councils influencing parliamentarians, Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).
Cllr Gough highlighted how councils are supporting Kent during the current influx of UASC and the need for the asylum system to be adequately funded.
He welcomed a consultation on the National Transfer Scheme as recognition of the importance of finding an urgent, sustainable and long-term solution to supporting UASC.
Finally, Cllr David Renard, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board, gave evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s inquiry on flooding. He pushed for the resources councils need to play an effective part in local flood management, given government grant funding is due to run out at the end of the financial year.
Committee Chair Neil Parish MP agreed that flood management funding should be made available to local authorities and promised to take this directly to George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
All of these issues and more will feature in the LGA’s campaign around the Spending Review and our calls to ‘Re-think local’.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that, to achieve the best outcomes, councils need to be enabled to innovate and create services that are tailored to their communities and localities, with government departments supporting councils. Local democratic control and sustainable funding for councils will achieve better outcomes.
We will be making all these points as we continue to work with parliamentarians on local government’s agenda for building back better.