Items of Interest
We thought you might find the following items of interest. The articles will link to external publications over which SEE has no control, and no endorsement from SEE is implied.
Local government in the news
4 March 2019 – This week the NLGN released its new report, The Community Paradigm: Why public services need radical change and how it can be achieved, which sets out a programme to reconfigure the relationship between state and citizen, with a view to increasing the accountability and sustainability of public services by embedding decision-making and resource allocation powers firmly within the local community.
19 February 2019 – The warnings about the grim outlook for local services just keep piling up. This week, LGIU and the MJ released the results of their annual survey on local government finance.
12 October 2018 – A new report from NLGN argues for the need to reform partnerships between the public and private sectors
12 October 2018 – The TCPA’s Planning for Affordable Housing report looks at the reasons why councils are not meeting demands for affordable housing in England.
12 October 2018 – The Social Market Foundation publication Barriers to eating healthily looks primarily at the economic barriers to accessing and healthy food in the UK
Local Government management
21 January 2019 – The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published its report on local government ethical standards.
7 January 2019 – Grant Thornton has developed Financial Foresight, a forward looking financial analytics and forecasting platform, to help support sustainability in local government. The tool takes account of factors such as population growth, funding forecasts and demand drivers to project local authority spend, income and operating costs. It provides a baseline view on the financial situation of every local authority in England and allows councils to benchmark themselves against others. Through Financial Foresight and our associated strategy workshops we can help local authorities test and appraise a range of financial strategies and levers to develop a plan for a sustainable future.
Contact Paul Dossett for further information.
29 April 2019
Post-Brexit public health blueprint
The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has launched a blueprint for a public health approach to post-Brexit trade agreements. A set of six ‘healthy’ trade principles have been outlined with the aim of ensuring public health standards are not ‘traded away’. This all follows last year’s Do No Harm campaign that was supported by a coalition of more than 60 health organisations, during which the Government guaranteed to protect the public’s health as we leave the EU.
11 January 2019
The Local Government Association has established a new advice hub compiling useful national advice, sorted by topic area, as well as its own briefings in one place. Topics include no-deal planning, citizens’ rights, advice for businesses, EU funding, ports and workforce.
11 January 2019 – A new report by the think tank Reform review the first year of the apprenticeship levy, looking at whether it has incentivised more employers to provide quality apprenticeships and secured more opportunities for young people. The report observes that the number of people starting an apprenticeship in the first six months fell by 40 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year. In addition, more experienced and older workers are increasingly becoming the focus of the apprenticeship programme, at the expense of less experienced and younger employees. It also argues that the introduction of the levy has also diminished the quality of apprenticeships. The report sets out a number of recommendations to improve the levy.
19 February 2019 – The Affordable Housing Commission is accepting submissions to inform policy changes that would make a difference to the shortages and cost of housing. The Commission is keen to hear a range of views on how these problems of housing affordability can be ended. The Commission is keen to receive evidence about major policy initiatives which could make a dramatic difference for struggling renters, frustrated homeowners, those reliant on state support and those who face affordability issues in old age. For further information or to share views, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions was 4th April.
IT, digital and cyber security
22 February 2019
The LGA Cyber Resilience programme, sponsored by the National Cyber Security Programme (Cabinet Office), has now agreed grant funding for over 100 councils in its first phase. A second phase of bidding will kick off later this Spring, with the LGA strongly encouraging councils to work collaboratively and bid and work together to improve their cyber resilience. Details will be kept updated here.
In the meantime, councils who received a red or red amber RAG rating in the Cyber Security Stocktake remain eligible for support from an independent cyber security expert, fully funded by the programme. To find out more about the programme and enquire about taking up this offer of support, please email: email@example.com The final public report from the Stocktake exercise, produced by RAND Europe and the LGA, can be downloaded by councils here.
11 September 2018
CISOs and technical teams are one of the greatest assets any organisation has, and their role in improving your knowledge of relevant cyber security issues shouldn’t be underestimated. For this reason, the NCSC have identified a range of questions which will help generate the right discussions between board members and their CISOs and increase awareness of key topics in cyber security.
29 March 2018
Cyber security is crucial to ensuring services are kept up and running and to ensuring the public’s trust in councils with their information. A cyber attack could have very serious consequences – disrupting services and damaging a council’s reputation. Healthy cyber security is key to the efficient and productive running of every council.
Local government and business
29 April 2019
Prosperous communities, productive places
Localis has released a new report which argues the local economic landscape has changed and the relationship between major business and “place” must now be renewed if local industrial strategies are to deliver local economic success.
A new strategic relationship with Local Economic Anchors (an area’s major employers or wealth generators) should be put in place through productivity deals to establish a new way of working. It considers the need to enhance the role of strategic authorities, a new approach to Corporate Social Responsibility linked more closely to Local Industrial Strategy and the role of “responsible business”.
Relatedly, Nathan Elvery, Chief Executive of West Sussex County Council, and Solace spokesperson for Evidence-based Policy, has written for the LGC about exploring the productivity crisis in the context of his region. In it, he echoes the Localis report and argues for the “need to renew the vows between local economic anchors and ‘place’, with a commitment from business to deliver more good jobs – higher wages, better skill supply chains, and support local housing and infrastructure.
“If [this is] successful,“ he writes, “the symbiotic relationship between business and place will become a virtuous circle – and we will all thrive together.”
Councils and committees
As the political situation becomes more fractured, both councillors and officers have reported facing hostility as they carry out their work. The Local Government Association has produced guidance for councillors to help them handle intimidation
8 May 2019
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published its long-awaited Statutory Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny in Local and Combined Authorities.
The statutory guidance stresses the role of scrutiny committees in holding councils to account over local decision-making.
It tells councils to share any information asked for by their scrutiny committee even if it can’t be shared in public, and to consider if companies delivering services for councils should be required to supply information as well.
Local government minister, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Scrutiny committees form an integral part of the work of councils in delivering services by acting on behalf of residents to hold councillors and staff to account for the important decisions they make.
’That is why I have set out new guidance to ensure authorities and residents can reap the benefits of effective scrutiny, by instilling a culture that welcomes challenge.’
You can read the guidance here.
SEE can offer support, guidance and training to both officers and councillors involved in overview and scrutiny. For further information or to discuss, please contact Mark Palmer.