Agenda and draft minutes

Board of Directors of the Local Government Association (The Leadership Board)
Wednesday, 30th October, 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.

Welcome and Apologies for Absence

To note any apologies for absence received by Directors. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Anne Western CBE.

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 that 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 2996 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.

Independent Review of Local Authority Financial Reporting and External Audit in England (the "Redmond Review")

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Sir Tony Redmond, who was leading the Independent review of Local Authority Financial Reporting and External Audit in England (known as the ‘Redmond Review’).

 

Alan Finch, Principal Adviser (Finance) introduced the report which provided a summary of the call for views as part of the Independent Review. Members were asked to provide a steer on the proposed content of the LGA response, the detail of which would be cleared by the LGA’s Resources Board.

 

Sir Tony provided a background to his review and asked Members for their comments. There followed a confidential discussion.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the report and provided comments on the proposed content of the LGA’s response to the call for views.

 

Action

Officers to draft a formal response in accordance with the steer from the Improvement and Innovation Board and the Leadership Board, to be cleared by the Resources Board (Alan Finch and Bevis Ingram).

5.

Centre for Public Scrutiny: Annual Report to LGA for 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jacqui McKinlay, Chief Executive of CfPS introduced the CfPS Annual Report for 2018/19. Jacqui highlighted that the CfPS work continued to be aligned to LGA improvement work over the previous year, including high profile work with Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Northamptonshire County Council. Financial pressures had continued for councils and therefore scrutiny was more important than ever in helping councils deliver.

 

Scrutiny in combined authorities was raised as an area for more work, as scrutiny was not as clear cut as in an individual authority. CfPS had undertaken some work with combined authorities over the previous year, and was working with the LGA on a Combined Authority Governance Network to address the issue.

 

In particular Members raised the issue of health scrutiny as important, and guidance should be reviewed and offered to councils. The area was complex as many councils operated joint scrutiny arrangements as NHS localities overlapped with different local authority boundaries. CfPS would undertake more work on this over the forthcoming year.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the report and thanked CfPS for their report.

6.

Local Government Preparedness for Brexit

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Task Force, to provide an oral report.

Minutes:

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Task Force, updated the Leadership Board on Brexit work since the previous meeting in September. Members noted that at the previous EU Delivery Board the LGA made the offer of co-writing the Devolution White Paper.  Given the General Election,  it was suggested that the LGA produced its own White Paper on English Devolution which could be presented to the incoming Government. The Leadership Board endorsed this approach.

 

It had also been confirmed at the previous EU Delivery Board that there would be a UK replacement for the Committee of the Regions role providing councils with an influence on relevant UK laws with an impact on local government that were previously within the purview of the EU.  This would not be a new institution and attendees from the LGA would vary depending on the subject under discussion.

 

Decision

Members noted the update, and agreed that the LGA should produce its own White Paper on Devolution and the legacy arrangements for the CoR.

 

Action

LGA’s work on the Devolution White Paper to be developed for an incoming Government. (Ian Hughes).

7.

2019 Queen’s Speech pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Minutes:

Lee Bruce, Head of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement, introduced the report which set out the key announcements for local government in the 2019 Queen’s Speech. Since the report was published a General Election had been announced for 12 December 2019, after which another Queen’s Speech would follow.

 

In the discussion which followed Members raised the following points:

 

·         Regarding the Electoral Integrity Bill, there were different opinions on whether all of the proposals under this Bill would be beneficial or not, but agreement that the LGA should monitor it closely.

·         Members welcomed the Environment Bill and planned work to lobby on it, which would include work on urban green spaces, and the roll out of broadband.

·         The Devolution Bill was also welcomed, and it was hoped that the LGA would be able to work closely with the new Government on it following the election campaign. It was suggested that work on the infrastructure Bill should be linked with work on the Devolution White Paper and that the Infrastructure Bill be prioritised higher.

·         Members raised particular points regarding other Bills. It was agreed that prioritisation of Bills would be revisited following the General Election, when there would be another Queen’s Speech.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the key legislation affecting local government in the 2019 Queen’s Speech and the prioritisation of LGA activity.

8.

Update on the Work of Fire Services Management Committee pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Minutes:

Mark Norris, Principal Policy Adviser, introduced the report which updated the Leadership Board on the work being undertaken by the LGA to support Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs). The report outlined the priority areas of work agreed by the Fire Services Management Committee for 2019/20 and the work which would involve FRAs.

 

Members noted that the FSMC priorities were set by the Home Office reform agenda. This included the inspections by HMICFRS which had been conducted over the last 18 months. A final report on inspections was due soon. Funding was also a key issue, and FSMC was working with the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Home Office on the spending round and the bid to be submitted to the Treasury for the Spending Review in 2020. Priority work would also continue on governance, transparency and standards, and in particular the transfer of fire services to oversight by Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners.

  

In addition to this, building safety was also a primary focus for FSMC. The Phase 1 report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry had been released earlier in the day, and included a number of recommendations. These included building owners notifying their FRA on the types of cladding in place, regular reports to FRAs on lifts, a range of changes to evacuation procedures, the clear numbering of floors, and checking that fire doors were compliant with the required standards. The FSMC would consider the Phase 1 report at their next meeting. The Chief Executive added that Lord Porter, the LGA’s building safety spokesperson, had been doing interviews throughout the day regarding the LGA’s response to the phase 1 report.

 

In the discussion which followed the following points were raised:

 

·         Prevention and road safety were now some of the main areas of work for FRAs. The balance between retained and full-time firefighters could affect the ability of fire authorities to ensure that prevention work continued to be prioritised. 

·         The narrative around fire safety in high-rise buildings post Grenfell should not centre on the frontline services, but on how the building safety regime was reformed and government needed to progress implementing the Hackitt reforms.

·         Fire safety concerns went beyond just high-rise buildings and any reforms to the building safety regime needed to give councils the powers they needed to take effective enforcement action.

·         A leadership essentials course on building safety would take place shortly, and the LGA’s work regarding the recommendations in the Phase 1 Grenfell Tower Inquiry report (including around any changes to evacuation procedures) would be communicated to members as soon as possible.

·         There were concerns that the fire inspection regime did not take into account the financial viability of the FRA, which needed to be funded to risk and not demand. A question was also raised on the future funding of national resilience assets.

·         The LGA’s work with FRAs would continue to be a regular part of the Leadership Board agenda.

 

Decision

The Leadership Board noted the Fire Services Management Committee’s priorities for 2019/20 and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

LGA Business Plan 2019-22 pdf icon PDF 663 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Claire Holloway, Head of Corporate Services, introduced the report which presented the updated draft LGA Business Plan 2019-22 for approval. The Business Plan had been considered by the Leadership Board at the previous meeting, and had been updated to reflect members’ comments. The headline themes and supporting priorities had been reduced to six, with a separate section containing the LGA’s practical support offer.

 

It was confirmed that the Business Plan would be published online, with links to the relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals definitions.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the 2019-22 Business Plan.

 

Action

The 2019-22 Business Plan would be circulated to all Boards and LGA employees and published on the LGA website (Claire Holloway).

10.

Local Government Finance Settlement 2020 to 2021: Technical Consultation pdf icon PDF 213 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 Sarah Pickup, Deputy Chief Executive, introduced the report which set out the key points in the Government’s technical consultation on the 2020/21 local government finance settlement and asked for views on the LGA’s draft response.

 

Members noted in particular that the LGA had consistently argued against council tax referendums,  but if the government is minded to retain a referendum threshold the draft LGA response asked for consideration to be given to a 3 per cent threshold for referendums rather than 2 per cent as proposed. The LGA also agreed that District councils should have the extra flexibility of a £5 increase. Also it was noted that our call for the settlement to be delivered on 5 December at the latest would now not be deliverable due to the General Election on 12 December. This line in the consultation response would be changed to call for the settlement to happen at the earliest possible point after the General Election and before Christmas.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the draft response, subject to one amendment regarding the date of the settlement, and agreed to it being forwarded to MHCLG as the LGA’s response to the consultation.

 

Action

Officers to amend the draft in light of comments made and forward the finalised submission to MHCLG by the closing date of 31 October 2019 (Sarah Pickup). 

11.

Business Rates Retention and Fair Funding Review Update pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Minutes:

Aivaras Statkevicius, Senior Adviser, introduced the report which provided a summary of progress on the Fair Funding Review and Business Rates Retention work programmes since the last meetings of the Leadership Board and Executive.

 

Members noted that the announcement of the election will have an impact on the public facing work that MHCLG could undertake on Business Rates Retention and Fair Funding Review. However, progress is being made, and the officer level steering group had met recently. This group includes treasurers from around the country.

 

On the Fair Funding Review, MHCLG officials have been focussing on the delivery of the children’s services formula. Work was at an advanced stage, but the announcement of an election would make the consultation unlikely in the near future. The LGA would continue to push for early examples of what the results of the fair funding review could mean for individual councils.

 

In the discussion which followed Members raised the following points:

 

·         That there needed to be some focus on how fire and rescue services funding requirements are being addressed in this work. It was explained that fire and rescue services will continue to receive part of their funding from retained business rates, and there would be a formula to distribute that funding. The formula would need to be developed, and the delay caused by the election may allow officials at MHCLG to develop something more robust. A fire and rescue services representative was included on the officer-level steering group.

·         It was confirmed that the LGA line was for any transition mechanism to be accompanied by sufficient funding. A key consideration is how the start and end point are defined. 

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the update.

 

Action

Officers would proceed with the delivery of the LGA work programme on Further Business Rates Retention and the Fair Funding Review as directed (Aivaras Statkevicius).

12.

Chief Executive's Report - October 2019 pdf icon PDF 532 KB

Minutes:

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, introduced the report and in particular highlighted priority work related to the forthcoming General Election on 12 December.

 

Officers would work with the Cabinet Office on the cost to councils of a short notice General Election in December. Work would also be undertaken on the consequences for the Local Government Finance Settlement in December, and whether this would be delayed. During the election campaign the LGA would hold the annual #OurDay on 19 November to highlight the day-to-day work of councils across the country.

 

As the National Children’s and Adult Services Conference would take place during the election campaign it was hoped that this would highlight Children’s and Adult Social Care as a priority election issue for all parties and consideration would be given to offering a platform for cross party debate on this matter at the conference.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the Chief Executive’s report for October 2019.

13.

LGA Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 170 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 noted that the Chairman and Group Leaders would consider which meetings should continue to go ahead in the forthcoming purdah period and which should be cancelled.

 

It was suggested that, following the General Election on 12 December, the new Prime Minister be invited to a future Councillors’ Forum meeting, and Members try to influence party manifestos and campaigning to focus on local government.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the Forward Plan, subject to the Chairman and Group Leaders determining on behalf of the Board whether the Leadership Board scheduled for 5 December should be cancelled.

14.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 11 September 2019

Minutes:

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 September 2019.

15.

Minutes of the Previous Commercial Advisory Board held on 9 September 2019

Minutes:

Decision

The Leadership Board noted the minutes of the Commercial Advisory Board held on 9 September 2019.

16.

2019 Autumn Budget and 2020 Spending Review

Minutes:

Sarah Pickup, Deputy Chief Executive, introduced the report which provided an update on the 2020 Spending Review and the 2019 Autumn Budget. Members noted that the Chancellor had cancelled the 2019 Autumn Budget the previous week after the papers had been dispatched, so the draft Budget submission would now inform other areas of work accordingly.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board noted the report and provided clearance of the LGA’s draft 2019 Budget submission which, following the cancellation of the Budget, would be used to inform other areas of work.

 

Action

Officers to proceed with the LGA’s work programme on the 2020 Spending Review (Sarah Pickup).

17.

LGA 2020/21 Budget Framework

Minutes:

Jonathan Gratte, Strategic Finance Manager, introduced the report which included the proposed 2020/21 Budget Framework for the LG Group Companies. It was agreed that the Financial Strategy for 2020/21 as previously agreed by the Board, would provide the core starting point and baseline comparator for the 2020/21 budget.

 

There followed a confidential discussion.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed the proposed 2020/21 Budget Framework for the LG Group Companies, using the Medium Term Financial Strategy from the March 2019 Budget paper as the basis, and updated as required.  

18.

Further Proposed Investment in LG Mutual Setup Costs

Minutes:

Jonathan Gratte, Strategic Finance Manager, introduced the report regarding further proposed investment in the LG Mutual setup costs.

 

There followed a confidential discussion.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed to the recommendations as set out in the report subject to further review in early 2020.

19.

LGA Membership Subscriptions 2020-21

Minutes:

Claire Holloway, Head of Corporate Services, introduced the report which set out the current financial and membership position and proposed potential approaches to setting LGA membership subscriptions for 2020/21.

 

Decisions

The LGA Leadership Board agreed to the recommended approach to subscriptions and discounts as set out in the report.

 

Action

Officers to notify councils of their 2020/21 subscription (Claire Holloway).

20.

LGA Governance

Minutes:

Claire Holloway, Head of Corporate Services, introduced the report which set out issues related to the respective roles of the LGA Leadership Board and the LGA Executive and recommendations for future arrangements.

 

Members discussed the various options, and decided to defer the decision on future arrangements until the issue had been discussed by the LGA Executive on 31 October.

 

Decision

The LGA Leadership Board agreed to defer any decision on LGA Governance arrangements and consultation with the wider membership until after the report had been considered by the LGA Executive on 31 October 2019.

 

Action

Officers to take any action agreed following the debate at the LGA Executive on 31 October 2019 (Claire Holloway).

21.

LGA Properties Update

Minutes:

Claire Holloway, Head of Corporate Services, introduced the report which provided an update on the refurbishment and letting of The Stills and the letting of 18 Smith Square.

 

Members noted that the practical completion date for The Stills had been extended until the end of January 2020, but that the project was in budget and that negotiations with prospective tenants for the office and retail space were progressing well.

 

Decisions

The LGA Leadership Board:

1.    Noted the latest position in relation to the refurbishment and letting of The Stills and the revised date for practical completion;

2.    Noted the planned timetable for the transfer of The Stills to the LGA; and

3.    Noted the latest positon in relation to the letting and transfer of 18 Smith Square. 

22.

Close of Meeting

Minutes:

The Chairman closed the meeting.