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Local Government Association launches Sector Support Programme

The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched its 2024/25 Sector Support Programme.

The LGA hopes to support councils with new and enhanced tools to harness opportunities, drive improvement across all regions and deliver essential services to communities.

The Government will fund the support which continues to be invaluable to councils, and builds upon the five key themes of finance, governance, leadership, transformation and workforce, directly informed by engagement with local government.

Councillor Abi Brown OBE, Chair of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “We are delighted to launch this year’s Sector Support Programme for councils, which has been informed by councils. New and continuing aspects of this offer respond directly to sector needs.

“Peer led support remains a cornerstone of the programme – no one understands local government better than local leaders and councillors, chief executives and senior officers, who are uniquely equipped to provide advice and support.”

The improvement and assurance framework consultation has proved insights that shaped this year’s support, helping to ensure councils are suitably equipped to improve and address challenges.

This includes the strengthened Corporate Peer Challenge (CPC) approach and expanded range of officer and councillor development opportunities, including for statutory officers. In addition, following a successful pilot in 2023-4, the LGA will introduce a significant foundation programme for newly-appointed chief executives.

The new CPC has a greater focus on data, evidence and finance, assessing council performance and productivity. It also provides a stronger focus on governance and culture, reflecting current challenges to the sector and the current draft statutory guidance on best value authorities.

The CPC also has a new report structure, under which reports will now be more authoritative and direct in content, with councils expected to have a CPC every five years as part of the refreshed government grant-funded offer to the sector.

Abi continued: “Our strengthened CPC approach is part of a wider focus on assurance to meet the needs of the sector. CPCs are a recognised improvement and assurance tool, which holds a mirror up to the local authority.

“This offer is available to all councils, with all councils expected to have a CPC at least once every five years.

“Our wide-ranging programme will continue to provide local authorities with necessary support to deliver critical services which our residents rely on, while helping them to make the best of opportunities and drive improvement in their areas.”

This year’s Sector Support programme also features a wider range of councillor-focused transformation support. This will help councillors to develop the necessary skills for change, while continuing to focus on core aspects, such as targeted finance and management of national collective bargaining.

“Peer led support remains a cornerstone of the programme – no one understands local government better than local leaders and councillors, chief executives and senior officers, who are uniquely equipped to provide advice and support.”

This year the LGA will launch a flagship national recruitment campaign to help overcome the recruitment and capacity challenges facing local authorities. The campaign aims to attract new talent and promote the benefits of a career in local government.

Councils experiencing changes in leadership or control will also continue to receive support, providing councillors and officers with guidance before and after the upcoming elections to ensure greater leadership capacity, robust governance and smooth political transitions.

Feedback shows sector support has successfully delivered quality support to the sector, with 100 per cent of councils reporting that participating in a CPC has had a positive impact for the past three years in a row.

The Sector Support programme forms part of the wider support offer comprising:

  • Children’s services
  • Partners in Care and Health (adult social care)
  • Cyber, digital and technology
  • One Public Estate
  • Planning
  • Procurement and sustainability

These areas are also funded by UK Government departments.

A number of other paid-for programmes such as Adult Social Care Peer Challenges and the NGDP Finance Scheme also make up the wider Sector Support offer.

Image credit: iStock

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