Agenda and minutes

Executive Advisory Board - Thursday, 10th April, 2014 2.00 pm

Venue: Westminster Room, 8th Floor, 18 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HZ. View directions

Contact: Frances Marshall  0207 664 3220 / Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


No declarations of interest were made.


Opening Remarks


The Chairman announced that from the next meeting in June, the Executive would start 15 minutes earlier at 1.45pm in order to accommodate those Members with significant distances to travel. 


The Chairman welcomed Slough Borough Council back into LGA membership with effect from 1 April and thanked all those who had contributed to this outcome.  


Queen's Speech 2014 pdf icon PDF 151 KB


Laurence Meehan (Public Affairs and Campaign Manager) introduced the report, which summarised those Bills expected to be announced in the Queen’s speech on 4 June which would have a significant impact on local authorities.  He drew attention to two additional Bills which had come forward since the report had been drafted; one on fracking and a second extending child neglect legislation to include emotional cruelty.  The Executive was invited to agree the suggested priority Bills for the LGA. 


In the discussion that followed, Members endorsed the suggested prioritisation and emphasised the importance of Highways Agency Bill as a priority for the sector.  Questions were raised regarding the implication of the ‘Duty to Report’ element of the Modern Slavery Bill; progress in lobbying to remove the duty to publish statutory notices in newspapers; and the discrepancy in powers and freedoms of English local authorities in contrast to Wales.   




The Executive agreed the suggested priority Bills for the LGA as set out in the report.  


The Relationship between Councils and Statutory Agencies pdf icon PDF 151 KB


The Chairman introduced the report which reviewed the current landscape of statutory agencies and their relationship with councils.  In doing so, he noted that the list of statutory agencies considered as part of this initial ‘desk-based’ review was not exhaustive and invited Members to consider commissioning a broader, more in-depth review to inform the LGA’s wider policy and lobbying activity.


In the discussion that followed a number of comments were made, including:


·        Members welcomed the proposal to undertake an in-depth review to ensure that statutory agencies with responsibility for public money are transparent, accountable and provide value for money. 


·        Members asked that the review consider if any of the duties currently undertaken by statutory agencies would be better placed with local authorities.  They also asked the review include bodies such as the Skills Funding Agency and English Heritage. 


·        Members referred to the Environment & Housing Board’s work with utility companies, in particular the water companies in the light of the recent flooding. 




The Executive:


       i.          noted the findings of the LGA’s review of six agencies; and


      ii.          agreed to a five-year update of the Quango Scorecard.


Audit Transitional Body pdf icon PDF 91 KB


Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the Improvement and Innovation Board, introduced the report which updated Members on the recent announcement that the LGA would lead interim arrangements for public sector audit after the close of the Audit Commission. 


Members welcomed the positive developments and highlighted the opportunity for councils to make savings through national procurement. 




The Executive welcomed Ministers’ decision to ask the LGA to establish the Transitional Body to manage the existing external audit contracts.


Sector-Led Improvement Evaluation pdf icon PDF 172 KB


Councillor Peter Fleming gave a presentation on the findings of the evaluation of the Sector-Led Improvement programme.  Responding to recent trade media reports he emphasised the distinction between ‘sector-led improvement’ and sector regulation and highlighted the key findings from the report which demonstrated the success of the programme and approach. In response to Leadership Board’s request for an alternative phrase for “sector-led improvement” when communicating with external audiences, Cllr Fleming suggested ‘Support and Challenge’. He concluded by putting on record his thanks to those officers involved.


In the discussion that followed, Members made a number of comments, including:


·        Members welcomed the positive findings of the evaluation and commended the work of the LGA and wider sector. 


·        A number of Members highlighted the importance of local and regional support, which both underpinned and added value to the national sector-led improvement programme.  


·        Members welcomed the public polling results which showed greater public confidence in local authorities providing local services than Government. In order to maintain confidence levels, Members highlighted the importance of ensuring that all councils facing performance challenges engage with the sector-led improvement approach.  




The Executive:


       i.          noted the comprehensive programme of support the LGA has provided for councils; and


      ii.          welcomed the findings from the evaluation of sector-led improvement.



Children's Services Improvement and Intervention pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Additional documents:


Helen Johnston (Head of Children and Young People Programme) introduced the item which updated Members on a letter to the LGA Chairman from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Familiesoutlining the Government’s future plans for children’s services improvement. These included a commitment to a wider review aimed at ‘developing capacity for the delivery of children’s services, including outside of local authorities’.  Members were invited to give guidance on the content of the Chairman’s response to the Minister. 


In the discussion that followed, Members expressed serious concerns over the ‘delivery of children’s services… outside of local authorities’.  With reference to the complex and unique nature of children’s services, as well as councils’ statutory obligations, Members questioned the existence of expertise outside of the sector to provide or develop additional capacity, particularly around safeguarding.  There was a strong feeling that the LGA’s response should make a robust case against outsourcing any aspects of children services; however Members noted that the review provided an opportunity to shape the debate and make a strong case for the sector.       




The Executive asked that their views inform the LGA Chairman’s response to Edward Timpson MP’s letter regarding children’s services improvement.   


Note of the last Leadership Board meeting - Tabled




The Executive noted the minutes of the Leadership Board held on Wednesday 19 March subject to the amendment that ‘alternative phrasing to sector-led improvement be considered for ‘external’ communications work (minute 4 refers).


Note of last LGA Executive meeting held on 20 March 2014




The Executive agreed the minutes of the previous Executive meeting held on 20 March.


LGA Betting Commission (Confidential)