Spreading the message

The LGA took its ‘Build back local’ campaign to the autumn party conferences

It was a busy party conference season for the LGA, as we organised debates on ‘harnessing the power of local government to level up’ at each of the party political conferences.

Drawing on our ‘Build back local’ campaign (see www.local.gov.uk/build-back-local), these debates have explored how, with the right funding and freedoms, councils can play a leading role in the recovery from the pandemic. 

At the Liberal Democrats’ virtual conference, debate chair Cllr Amanda Hopgood was joined by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, LGA President; Cllr Joe Harris, Leader of the LGA’s Liberal Democrat Group; Polly Mackenzie, Chief Executive of Demos; and Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

Contributions focused on the key role local councils played in supporting local communities and businesses during lockdown with references to York City Council, whose micro business grants helped keep hundreds of local businesses going.  

“Councils can play a leading role in the recovery

At our Labour Party conference debate, led by Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, we heard from Baroness Grey-Thompson about the difference that councils make to the quality of residents’ lives, while Professor Steve Fothergill, from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, called on councils to engage with the Government’s levelling-up agenda and existing funding mechanisms.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Party Chair and Chair of Labour Policy Review, thanked councils for their work during the pandemic, and both she and Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of the LGA’s Labour Group, highlighted the role of councils in levelling up the country. 

Cllr Forbes also stressed the need for a fair funding settlement for local government as part of the upcoming Spending Review.

Finally, at the Conservative Party conference, the panel, led by LGA Chairman Cllr James Jamieson, discussed social care funding, the role of local government in achieving net zero, planning reform, and the support councils need to meet housing demand. 

Localis Chief Executive Jonathan Werran spoke about devolution and the need for central government to put more trust in local government to provide for their communities. 

Both Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of the LGA’s Conservative Group, and David Simmonds MP, a former councillor, drew on their own experiences in local government to discuss how we can give councils more power to build back better. 

LGA representatives spoke at a range of Labour and Conservative conference events, organised by stakeholder organisations, on topics such as levelling-up, young people, housing and net zero.

Back from recess

Following the return of Parliament from recess, the LGA continued its engagement with Peers on the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, which started its Report Stage in the Lords on 12 October. 

We also briefed Peers ahead of a debate on the challenges facing social care in England following the pandemic, and the effect of the new health and social care levy on the Government’s social care plans. 

In the committee corridors, LGA Deputy Chief Executive Sarah Pickup gave evidence to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry on long-term funding for adult social care. 

We used both these opportunities to highlight our concerns about the Government’s plans for social care and what needs to be done to ensure the social care system can support people to live the lives they want to lead.

For more information about the LGA’s parliamentary work, please visit www.local.gov.uk/parliament

The LGA Independent Group Annual Conference 2021 takes place in London on 29 October, see www.local.gov.uk/events

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