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Tag Archives: DCLG

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NAO – Financial sustainability of local authorities 2014

This briefing summarises a National Audit Office report called “Financial sustainability of local authorities 2014″, regarding the financial stresses faced by local authorities. The briefing also examines the Department of Communities and Local Government’s responses to this data and whether they sufficiently identify how close local authorities are to financial or service failure.

This briefing is relevant to authorities of all tiers. It will be of interest to councillors and officers with an interest in local government finance, corporate strategy and services on which there are statutory duties.

Party conference roundup


The devolution question following the Scottish referendum was debated widely at each conference, particularly in the fringes, and the fallout from the Scottish referendum for local areas is still a hot topic among localists and some political commentators.

High street performance and evolution: a brief guide to the evidence

The Future High Streets Forum, a group of stakeholders and experts convened by Government in 2013 to advise on and champion policies to support high streets and town centres, has commissioned an evidence review on the issues affecting high street performance and competitiveness, carried out by the University of Southampton and co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). As part of this a guide to the evidence for policymakers and practitioners has been produced, published in July 2014. This briefing summarises the guide and offers brief commentary on related developments and potential next steps for national town centre policy.

This briefing is relevant to councillors and officers across all areas and all tiers of local government, particularly those involved with planning and economic development.

NAO report – Assurance to Parliament on local government funding

On 25 June, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report “Local government funding: Assurance to Parliament”. The report examines funding granted to local authorities in 2013-14, considering the mechanisms in place to ensure value for money and that it is spent legally and “regularly” (including considering conditions attached to grants). This briefing summarises the report and provides a commentary on it, within the context of the changing local government finance system. It will interest to members and officers with local government finance responsibilities. It may also be of interest to officers and members who provide transparency and value for money data to the public and to scrutiny bodies.

Pension Funds – Structural Reform

This briefing is the second of a pair of briefings on current and recent developments in pension funds. It describes the structural reform programme, currently being led by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), covering:
* The current government consultation on structural reform of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), closing on 11 July
* Background to the consultation: the Hutton report, a roundtable event in May 2013, a Call for Evidence in 2013, a report by the Shadow Scheme Advisory Board (SSAB) and a government-commissioned report by Hymans Robertson
The first briefing presented case studies of what local authorities are doing in two areas:
* Innovative investments of pension funds in local infrastructure, growing local economies and benefiting communities
* Recent and current joint working between councils on collective investment
The issues covered by these two briefings are intimately linked, as described in the briefings. This briefing is relevant to all local authorities as employers, but particularly to administering authorities. It will be of interest to pensions officers and pensions committee members, but also to those with responsibility for housing, infrastructure and local economies.

Administration of Business Rates in England discussion paper

On 10 April, the government published a discussion paper “Administration of Business Rates in England”. This briefing describes the current Business Rate system and summarises the issues and questions in the paper. It places these in the context of:
* Business Rates Retention (BRR)
* Autumn Statement 2013
* The recent consultation “Checking and Challenging your Rateable Value”
* Recent work by the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee on the retail sector.
As these issues affect local government funding, it will potentially be of interest to all local authorities, but particularly to billing authorities.

This briefing focuses on the consultation but it also includes a section explaining the current system that may be particularly useful for new councillors elected on 22 May.

We published a briefing this week that also considered business rates: The Retail Sector: an update which readers may wish to read alongside this one.

New DCLG line-up


October’s ministerial reshuffle means a new line-up for DCLG. Mark Prisk MP has been removed as Minister of State for Housing and the Rt Hon Don Foster MP leaves his post as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities …

Calling government to account: a perspective on the CLG Select Committee

This briefing reviews the work of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee in the current UK parliament. It considers what to expect of a select committee – its role and remit – and what scope it has for influence. Information is provided on recent reports and current inquiries.The briefing is of interest to all concerned with the implementation of localism, and it draws attention to reports and inquiries on planning, housing, welfare reform, regional policy, the mutual and co-operative provision of services, and the role of councillors

Local authorities and economic development in 2013 – can local dynamism counter a national low growth economy?

The global economic outlook is uncertain. National forecasts show a continuation of a lengthy period of low growth (at best). The need for local authorities (LAs) to contribute to and lead local growth has, arguably, never been greater.
Doing this effectively requires LAs to understand, plan and manage both their local economy, and the major changes the coalition government has made to the sub-national economic development landscape since 2010.
During the latter half of 2012, LGIU produced a number of briefings on key aspects of this changed landscape – LEPs, city deals, autumn statement etc. This briefing builds on these to provide a checklist of considerations for LAs in terms of economic development as we enter 2013.
Understanding the local economy, a vision and strategy for the future, strategic relationship management, capacity and capability to intervene effectively, and engaging with national and EU opportunities are each examined as key components of a local approach. Pulling these together in a ‘city deal’ or an economic chapter of a ‘whole place community budget’ is a major undertaking, but can arguably provide a coherent foundation for 2013 efforts and energies.
This briefing will be of particular interest to LA leadership and policy teams with economic responsibilities, their partners especially in LEPs (local enterprise partnerships), and to economic development and related professional teams.
This briefing is also part of a series where we are looking back and looking ahead at key issues – health and social care and planning briefings will be published shortly.

Local Government Finance Settlement 2013/14


The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced the Local Government Finance Settlement Consultation 2013/2014 to the House of Commons on Wednesday 19 December. Find out more here.