Agenda and draft minutes

Board of Directors of the Local Government Association (The Leadership Board)
Wednesday, 11th September, 2019 1.00 pm

Venue: Smith Square 1&2, Ground Floor, 18 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HZ. View directions

Contact: Paul Goodchild (Member Services Manager) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Chairman, Notice and Quorum

To confirm the Chairman for the meeting, that the meeting is quorate, and that adequate notice of the meeting was given.

Minutes:

The Board confirmed Cllr James Jamieson as Chairman for the meeting, that the meeting was quorate and that adequate notice of the meeting had been given.

 

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, Cllr Ruth Dombey OBE, Cllr Anne Western CBE, and Cllr Anntoinette Bramble.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Each Director present to confirm that they have no direct or indirect interest, or declare any interest, in the transactions and other arrangements to be considered at the meeting, or which the Company has entered into which they are required to declare by Section 177 or Section 182 of the Companies Act 2006 (CA 2006) as amended, or by the Articles of Association.

Minutes:

Directors confirmed they had no direct or indirect interest in the transactions or arrangements to be considered at the meeting, or which the Company had entered into, which they were required to declare by Section 177 or Section 182 of the Companies Act 2006 as amended, or by the Articles of Association.

3.

Duties of Directors

Each Director to notethat under section 172 of the Companies Act 2006, they must act in the way they consider, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the Company for the benefit of its members as a whole and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to certain factors set out in that section; and that under Section 173 they must exercise independent judgement.

Minutes:

Directors noted that under Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006, they must act in a way they consider, in good faith, would most likely to promote the success of the Company, for the benefit of its members and while in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to certain factors set out in that section; and under that section they must exercise independent judgement.

4.

2019 Spending Round and 2020 Spending Review pdf icon PDF 303 KB

Minutes:

Sarah Pickup (Deputy Chief Executive) introduced the report which provided a summary of the key announcements in the 2019 Spending Round relevant to local government and provided an update on LGA activity carried out before the announcement. Members also noted updates regarding the work programme around the 2020 Spending Review.

 

Key announcements in the Spending Round included: a funding package of more than £3.5 billion for local services; £1 billion new money for adult social care, and £700 million for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, with existing key grants due to continue next year; a proposed council tax referendum limit of two per cent which could raise £1.1 billion including increases in the tax base; an ability to levy a 2 per cent adult social care which would give councils the potential to raise an further £500 million; and the intention to introduce 75 per cent business rates retention and the Fair Funding Review in April 2021 at the same time as the next business rates reset, a delay of one year.

 

In the discussion which followed Members raised the following points:

 

·         The Board thanked the Chairman, Group Leaders and LGA officers who had undertaken a lot of work to ensure a good result for local government, particularly for social care, SEND and high needs support. The additional funding was welcomed, although caution was raised that this was a one year settlement, and that there would be further work to do ahead of a full Spending Review in 2020.

·         The council tax referendum limit was not confirmed yet, but it was expected to be two per cent. It was confirmed that LGA policy was still to call for the abolition of council tax referendum limits.

·         There were questions about what benefits the Spending Round delivers for shire district councils. These relate to the delay to the reset, the continuation of New Homes Bonus, a small uplift in RSG and the expected retention of the £5 or 2% option ( to be confirmed). The LGA had not yet undertaken a council by council analysis of the Spending Round funding commitments, but would be doing so In the event of a General Election early work should be done with the national political parties to ensure LGA asks were included as manifesto commitments.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the report. 

 

Action

Officers to proceed with the LGA’s work programme on the 2019 Spending Round and 2020 Spending Review in accordance with Members’ comments (Sarah Pickup).

5.

Business Rates Retention and Fair Funding Review Update pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Minutes:

Nicola Morton (Head of Local Government Finance) introduced the report which provided a summary of progress on the Fair Funding Review and Business Rates Retention work programmes since the previous meeting.

 

Members noted that the implementation of further Business Rates Retention and the Fair Funding Review had been delayed for a year. It was understood that the 100 per cent business rates retention pilots which had ratified devolution deals and were introduced in 2017/18 would continue in 2020/21. The 2019/20 75 per cent business rates retention pilots were a one year exercise and would not continue in 2020/21.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the progress update, including the announcement by the Secretary of State that implementation of further business rates retention and the Fair Funding Review would be delayed until 2021/21.

 

Action

Officers to proceed with the delivery of the LGA work programme on Further Business Rates Retention and the Fair Funding Review as directed by the Leadership Board, LGA Executive, and the Business Rates and Fair Funding Task and Finish Group (Nicola Morton).

6.

Local Government Preparedness for Brexit pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Minutes:

Cllr Kevin Bentley (Chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Task Force) introduced the report and updated the Leadership Board on the work he and the Brexit Task Force had undertaken since the previous meeting of the Leadership Board.

 

Members noted that the new Ministerial teams in many of the relevant departments were attending meetings of the EU Exit Ministerial Delivery Board, and the central planning assumption of Government was that the UK would leave the EU on 31 October. Two tranches of money had been released to local authorities, which was revenue, and not infrastructure. Messaging around the EU Settlement Scheme would be stepped up as some people were not clear about the deadlines. More communications around what to do in the event of a no deal Brexit were also planned by the Government, and relevant information would be signposted from local authority websites.

 

In the discussion which followed Members raised the following points:

 

·         No decision had yet been made on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, but there was a suggestion it would be included in the next Spending Review. Funding was currently guaranteed to 2020 only.

·         Councils in Northern Ireland had not received any additional money as the NI executive was not meeting and funding was controlled directly by the Government. The LGA was working closely with Northern Irish Councils to get a commitment of funding.

·         Further to the LGA’s work to confirm EU nationals’ ability to vote in local elections in 2019, the same work would continue for 2020. It was also raised that some councillors had received a rejection to their application for EU settled status, and this would be investigated.

·         It was suggested that there was a perception that the EU settled status scheme was not being delivered smoothly, and councils received a lot of enquiries regarding this. It was also suggested that the LGA should contact the DWP regarding benefit levels should there be a rise in food prices following Brexit.

·         There was an opportunity for local government to promote what the sector was doing to prepare for Brexit, and also to show why powers should be devolved to the local level following Brexit and not just to Westminster. A future Council of European peer review could be helpful in this area.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the report.  

 

Action

Actions on issues raised above to be taken forward by officers and the Brexit Task Force (Ian Hughes).

7.

Climate Emergency and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pdf icon PDF 194 KB

Minutes:

Ian Hughes (Head of Policy) introduced the report which set out how the LGA proposed to take forward work on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Climate Emergency further to the Motion on SDGs and Climate Emergency which was passed at the LGA General Assembly in July 2019 and the establishment of a Climate Emergency Sounding Board at the previous meeting.

 

The LGA Business Plan had now been adapted to localise the SDGs.  Further work was being undertaken to examine the SDGs in more depth and to understand where local government had a key role.

 

Members noted that the Climate Emergency Sounding Board had met twice over the summer to identify the climate emergency challenges faced by councils, good practice in addressing these, and how the LGA could provide support through work with Government, policy development, lobbying and improvement. Councils had been undertaking work on climate for a long time so there was a lot of good practice to share. A firm recommendation was a joint task group with Government to ensure councils could lead work locally and join up national initiatives effectively.  The EEHT, Improvement, People and Places and City Regions Boards would take particular areas of this work forward, and a further update report would be brought to the Leadership Board in December 2019.

 

In the discussion which followed Members raised the following points:

 

·         It was important that local government did not work alone and recognised the influencing role it needed in communities. It would be helpful to develop a framework for local government to assess what was currently being undertaken and what could be done on climate emergency, such work should look at where carbon came from locally, what councils could do directly and where councils would need to influence others. A corporate plan for what the LGA as an organisation would do was also needed.

·         The proposal for a joint Task Force with Government was very important and needed to be progressed quickly.

·         There should be a strong evidence base to all work on climate emergency, and also in how the sector educated and influenced.

·         Solutions had to include practical measures to promote sustainable development. Councils should plan for a post-carbon economy and a green industrial revolution to continue to sustain economic growth.

·         The work of the European LGA (CEMR) should be considered – especially its work on international best practice.

 

Decision

The Leadership Board supported the recommendations of the Climate Emergency Sounding Board to address the LGA’s response to the SDGs and Climate Emergency issues. 

 

Action

Climate Emergency work programme to be taken forward in line with Members’ comments (Ian Hughes).

8.

LGA Business Plan 2019-22 pdf icon PDF 719 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Claire Holloway (Head of Corporate Services) introduced the draft LGA Business Plan 2019-22, which included an increased focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Emergency, following the Motion passed by the LGA General Assembly in July 2019.

 

Current business plan themes had been mapped against the SDGs and amended, with two new themes proposed -  ‘Climate Change’ which would take forward the sounding board’s recommendations and ‘Strong local democracy’ covering the work on civility in public life. A reshaped internal theme - ‘the way we work’ - would ensure the LGA demonstrated best practice in the way it managed its own business;

 

In the discussion which followed Members raised the following points:

 

·         There was a suggestion that some themes could be combined to reduce the total number.

·         Mapping our own organisational activities against the SDGs provided a useful framework for those who wished to develop SDGs in their own councils.

·         Members supported the use of the term ‘homes’ rather than ‘housing’, and also suggested that a greater focus be made on building communities, including infrastructure, rather than just housing. 

·         Members highlighted the growing importance of children’s mental health but acknowledged the risks of giving this a higher profile than other important children’s special needs categories.

·         It was suggested that the CYP Board look at the issue of vaccination, and whether local authorities should make it mandatory for children at council run schools.

·         Members discussed the prioritisation of children’s mental health in the Business Plan, in relation to other issues such as learning disabilities and similar conditions.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board:

1.    Agreed the framework of themes as the basis for the 2019-22 Business Plan and the main areas of focus for the year to come; and

2.    Agreed areas for inclusion, deletion and amendment in the final draft Business Plan.

 

Action

Final draft plan incorporating the Board’s comments to be presented to the next meeting on 30 October for sign off (Claire Holloway).

9.

Chief Executive's Report - September 2019 pdf icon PDF 455 KB

Minutes:

Mark Lloyd (Chief Executive) introduced the report by thanking Members and colleagues for their work over the summer with the new Government and new ministerial teams in all relevant departments. He also highlighted the LGA’s work with MHCLG on local government governance and accountability, engagement with Government on home ownership and building safety, and the LGA’s continued work to promote corporate and financial peer challenges.

 

It was suggested that a report be considered at a future meeting on issues faced by Fire and Rescue Authorities. It was confirmed that this would be added to the Forward Plan.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the Forward Plan subject to the inclusion of an item on Fire and Rescue Authorities at the next Leadership Board meeting on 30 October.

10.

LGA Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 189 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the Forward Plan, which set out the agendas for the LGA Leadership Board, the LGA Executive, and Councillors’ Forum for the next three months.

 

Members agreed that an report on matters regarding Fire and Rescue Authorities be included on the agenda of the next Leadership Board in October 2019.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the Forward Plan.

11.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 17 July 2019

Minutes:

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the minutes of the previous meeting held on 17 July 2019.

12.

Minutes of the Previous Commercial Advisory Board held on 24 June 2019

Minutes:

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the minutes of the Commercial Advisory Board held on 24 June 2019.

13.

Civility in Public Life - Project Proposal

Minutes:

Abigail Gallop (Senior Adviser) introduced the report which set out a proposed programme of work entitled ‘Civility in Public Life’ to address concerns raised by the LGA’s membership around intimidation of those in public office, and also the concerns about the standards of public and political discourse and debate.

 

Members noted that the work programme would be made up of three main components: prevention, support and challenge. There would also be a review into the model code of conduct in response to recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

 

There followed a confidential discussion.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed that the work programme be endorsed and adopted.

 

Action

Work programme to be delivered in line with Members’ comments (Abigail Gallop).

14.

LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition

Minutes:

David Holdstock (Director of Communications) introduced the report which provided the Leadership Board with a summary of activity and feedback from the LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2019, and asked for comments on the direction and content of the next Annual Conference and Exhibition in 2020.

 

Members commented that the conference had been excellent overall, and discussed some areas for improvement in 2020.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the summary of activity and feedback from the 2019 LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition and suggested potential ideas for the 2020 Annual Conference and Exhibition.

 

Action

Suggestions from Members to be considered for implementation at the LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020.

15.

UK Municipal Bonds Agency Plc (UKMBA) Update

Minutes:

Sarah Pickup (Deputy Chief Executive) introduced the report, which provided an update on the work to revise the UKMBA offer and on suggested next steps.  There followed a confidential discussion.

 

Decision

The LGA leadership Board agreed to delegate the final decision on the project to the Chairman and Group Leaders following feedback from further discussions..

 

Action

Officers would work with UKMBA to arrange a meeting with the group of interested councils and report back to the Chairman and Group Leaders.

16.

Local Government Mutual: Draft Business Plan

Minutes:

Sally Burlington, Head of Policy, introduced the report which provided an update on work to set up a Local Government Mutual and presented the Mutual’s Business Plan for approval prior to sign off by the Mutual Board.

 

There followed a confidential discussion.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board approved the Business Plan, subject to final sign-off by the Local Government Mutual’s Board of Directors.

 

Action

The Business Plan was to be considered by the LGM Board of Directors, and any substantial changes would be brought back to the Leadership Board for further consideration (Sally Burlington).

17.

Properties Update

Minutes:

Claire Holloway, Head of Corporate Services, introduced the report which provided an update on the latest positon with regards to the refurbishment, letting and transfers of 18 Smith Square and Layden House / the Stills.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the current position in relation to the refurbishment and letting of 18 Smith Square and Layden House / the Stills, and the transfer of both properties to the LGA.

 

Action

Further reports to be brought back to the Boards of LGA (Properties), LGMB and Leadership Board in October 2019 (Claire Holloway).

18.

Close of Meeting

Minutes:

The Chairman closed the meeting.