Agenda and minutes

Executive Advisory Board - Thursday, 5th March, 2015 1.45 pm

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

Contact: Frances Marshall  0207 664 3220 / Email:

No. Item


Welcome and Declarations of Interest


The Chair opened the meeting by welcoming Stephen Hughes, former Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, who had taken up the role of LGA Executive Director on an interim basis.


No declarations of Interest were made.


Final Report of the Non-Metropolitan Commission pdf icon PDF 120 KB


Sir Tony Hawkhead, the Chief Executive of Action for Children and one of the Commissioners on the Non-Metropolitan Commission, provided a high level overview of the review’s final report which had been published that day.  The Commission, which had been established to explore ways to stimulate economic growth regionally, create new jobs and help people live their lives better, had made a series of seven practical and implementable recommendations.  Sir Tony outlined these recommendations which were based on the principle of locally led devolution in partnership with Government and were designed to provide greater powers to local authorities to free them to work more innovatively and collaboratively.  In doing so, he noted that the recommendations were equally applicable to non-metropolitan areas and urged the LGA use the report in its lobbying for greater devolution of powers from Whitehall. 


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


Communications Strategy

·        Members welcomed the Commission’s report, recognising its findings as mutually supportive and complementary of the recommendations made by the Independent Local Government Finance and RSA Cities Commissions.  They highlighted the important role of the three Commissions in advancing the devolution debate through strengthening the evidence base, providing practical proposals and normalising devolution of powers to localities as a precondition of sustainable public service delivery. 


·        Members emphasised the need for a cohesive LGA approach in taking forward the findings of the three Commissions to ensure clarity of message and to maximise traction.  It was noted that the People & Place and City Regions Boards would be taking this work forward.


·        With reference to the challenge of addressing Whitehall reticence to differential devolution models, suggestions included strengthening and broadening the evidence base to demonstrate the benefits of devolution in areas including skills, infrastructure and health. 


·        Members welcomed the emergence of devolution models in two non-metropolitan areas and highlighted it as critical to broadening out the devolution debate countrywide.



·        There was a detailed discussion regarding the complexities of defining non-metropolitan areas and the array of existing and often incongruous sub regional boundaries. 


·        There were strong views from Members that future governance arrangements in non-metropolitan areas would be critical to success and that each area should make a proactive and robust case for collaboration based on what works locally. 



The LGA Executive:


       i.          welcomed the Non-Metropolitan Commission’s report; and


      ii.          supported its findings.


Final Report of the Independent Local Government Finance Commission pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:


Stephen Hughes (Executive Director and Commissioner) introduced the report which summarised the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Local Government Finance which had recently published its final report; Financing English Devolution.  In doing so, he highlighted the Commission’s high level findings and welcomed Members’ views within the context of the LGA’s wider work on devolution in England.


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


·        Members welcomed the Commission’s report and noted the complementarity of a number of its findings with those of the Non-Met Commission’s recommendations and a similar piece of work on financial sustainability by SIGOMA.


·        In discussing how to progress the recommendations, Members emphasised the importance of making a compelling case to Government that demonstrates the financial and outcome benefits of devolving much greater public expenditure to local areas through a place based approach.  Local areas being able to retain 100 per cent of business rate was highlighted as key to the success of a locally devolved funding model.


·        With reference to the potentially complex geographies of certain areas, questions were asked as to how the Commission’s ‘sub national’ proposals would operate.     


·        The Commission’s call for a review of local government functions and sustainability, along with recognition of the need for an equalisation mechanism were welcomed.   However, concerns were expressed regarding how the mechanism would operate and the timescale for review.  Particular reference was made to the need to continue to emphasise the underlying flaws with the current distribution formula.   




The LGA Executive:


                 i.          welcomed the recommendations of the Commission in the context of the Executive’s broader work on devolution in England; and


                ii.          asked that their views inform the LGA’s promotion of the Commission’s recommendations as a means of influencing the next Government.


LGA Business Plan 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair moved the LGA Business Plan for 2015/16 which had been recommended by the LGA Leadership Board at its meeting on 4 March. 


A Member highlighted the valuable role of the LGA in seeking to influence European legislation on behalf of member councils.  The Chair echoed the Members comments and noted the importance that this work be reflected more visibly in future Business Plans.




That the LGA Executive agreed the LGA’s Business Plan for 2015/16.


LGA Budget 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair moved the LGA Budget for 2015/16, which had been recommended by the Leadership Board at its meeting on 4 March. 


There followed a discussion regarding the LGA’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG) allocation, including its current and potential future use, as well as the principles underpinning the LGA’s sector-led improvement programme.  A number of different views were expressed, with particular reference the importance of encouraging universal uptake of the LGA’s Corporate Peer Challenge offer. 




The LGA Executive agreed the LGA’s Business Plan for 2015/16.


Note of the last Leadership Board meeting - Tabled



The LGA Executive noted the minutes of the previous Leadership Board meeting held on 4 March 2015.


Note of last LGA Executive meeting



The LGA Executive agreed the minutes of the previous Executive meeting held on 22 January 2015.