The LGA is seeking to influence a range of new legislation that affects the work of councils.
Following the Queen’s Speech in May, the Government is bringing forward a range of new measures as it seeks to build back better from the pandemic.
The parliamentary discussions on these proposals are a key opportunity for the LGA to continue to make the case for place-based leadership, and we are focusing our work on the bills councils would like us to influence on their behalf – on planning, the environment, skills and further education, health and care, and building safety.
A Planning Bill is expected by the autumn and we are regularly briefing for parliamentary debates and giving evidence – most recently to a Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the planning system in England.
The committee’s report endorsed our call for councils to have powers to levy council tax charges on incomplete properties if developers are too slow building out sites with planning permission.
This work helps us build a compelling narrative to make the case for an efficient, well-resourced, accessible, democratic and locally led planning system.
Tackling the climate emergency is a key part of the LGA’s work and we have been showcasing councils’ environmental leadership in our briefings to Parliament.
The Environment Bill, currently in committee in the Lords, forms part of the Government’s plans to create a framework for achieving net zero. In debates, Peers have highlighted councils’ important role in environmental protection, with a number referencing the LGA’s messages.
LGA Vice-President Baroness Eaton (Con) highlighted the work councils are already doing to meet environmental goals, and that they will need the appropriate skills and resources to deliver on any new responsibilities.
Meanwhile Lord Wigley (Plaid Cymru) echoed our concern that the bill does not provide assurance that the full costs of the proposed producer responsibility scheme for waste will be met by producers, with a risk of the financial burden falling on councils.
The Government is introducing a wide range of measures to take forward its levelling-up agenda, including improving skills provision and reforming further education, as per the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill.
At the bill’s second reading in the Lords, Baroness Wilcox, LGA Vice-President and Labour Spokesperson for Equalities, referenced our concerns about the introduction of employer-led local skills improvement plans (LSIPs), and made the case that mayoral combined authorities and councils should be strategic partners in developing and managing these plans.
Responding on behalf of the Government, Baroness Berridge gave assurances that LSIPs will be led by employers with the involvement of mayoral combined authorities and proper consultation with local partners.
Health and social care will continue to be a priority throughout this Parliament, with the Government set to introduce a Health and Care Bill laying the foundations for a more integrated health and care system. The LGA set out its position on a white paper on integrated care systems in May, and since then has been working with government to shape the proposals.
Finally, a draft Building Safety Bill was published last year. This cannot come soon enough to reform our broken building safety system, and the LGA continues to influence pre-legislative scrutiny.
In addition to these priority bills, we will keep a watching brief on other legislation – including measures on electoral integrity, procurement, online safety, and policing and crime – and, as needed, put forward local government’s thinking.