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The post-Christmas catch-up

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LGC’s essential daily briefing to bring you back up-to-date following the festive season

Traditionally Christmas decorations must come down by the end of the Twelfth Night (this Thursday, in case you were wondering) to avoid bad luck, but for many LGC readers the festive season may well and truly have ended with this morning’s journey into work.

In case the Christmas break has dulled your memory of the important news of the last days and weeks of the year, or you missed a few headlines in the hazy period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, here’s a selection of LGC’s top content over the period; everything you need to know to get up-to-date.

The big news story of December was about the government’s moves – or lack thereof – on social care funding. Despite rumours a significant change was coming, the government’s solution to helping councils face rising demand and costs was to change the profile of the social care precept and divert some money from the new homes bonus to social care. However, LGC analysis showed a third of top tier councils stand to be net losers as a result of the recycled funding. Appearing before the Commons liaison committee just five days before Christmas Prime Minister Theresa May’s answers on future social care funding mechanisms also failed to impress.

In the week running up to Christmas Day a High Court judge ruled that the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority’s devolution deal consultation was unlawful as it failed to explicitly ask whether Chesterfield BC should join the organisation. The move will likely mean the city region will have to run another consultation – but time is running out to complete the exercise and have the necessary parliamentary orders laid by May. As a result it is looking increasingly unlikely a mayoral election in the Sheffield City Region will take place in May while rumours have re-emerged of a Yorkshire wide devolution deal being negotiated instead.

In the same week LGC also revealed the councils where auditors found value for money concerns during the 2015-16 audit round, which councils are at risk of intervention in 2017 under ministers’ new planning performance regime and that Haringey LBC chief Nick Walkley has a new job

LCG was pleased to publish its 2016 powerlist, the LGC100, in late December, revealing who our panel of experienced judges believed would wield the most influence on the sector in 2017. Editor Nick Golding wrote on what the presence of ministers in the top slots of this year’s list – unlike last year’s – means for the sector.

As councils become more dependent on growing their local economies as a result of the business rates retention reforms planned by the end of the parliament, one might expect the focus on economic development staff to grow in local authorities. Research from the Institute of Economic Development, however, found that half of public sector organisations have no plans to hire economic development professionals in 2017. Executive director Nigel Wilcock explained the research here.

As 2017 gets into full swing the sector now waits to see if there will be as many shocks and surprises as there were last year. 

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