The Local Government Association is facing a potential cut of £1m from central government, at the same time as reorganisation will mean a fall in number of member authorities.
The £1m cut in direct government grant that the LGA is facing was included in the LG Group budget for 2019-20, although the LGA says it is still in discussions with MHCLG on the topic. “Ahead of those negotiations concluding, we made some prudent budget assumptions for consideration by our board as it considers our 2019-20 business plan,” a spokesperson explained. “We remain optimistic that there will be more resources available to support sector-led improvement.”
Currently 349 of 353 English councils are members of the LGA with Bromley, Wandsworth and Barnet LBCs and Gosport BC the exceptions.
The LGA’s chief executive’s report, which will be discussed in a meeting of the LGA leadership board today, reveals that Leicestershire CC and Lincolnshire CC are on notice to leave the LGA on March 31.
Meanwhile, as a result of the consolidation of councils in Dorset into two unitaries and mergers between districts in Suffolk and Somerset, a further fifteen authorities will soon cease to exist and have therefore also given notice to leave LGA membership this year. However, the LGA said their eight successor authorities intend to take up LGA membership on 1 April 2019.
A Leicestershire CC spokesperson said that it was “likely” that it will issue a fresh 12 months notice to leave the LGA before the end of March 2019.
Although the council has not commented on the reasons why it is contemplating leaving the LGC, Leicestershire leader Nick Rushton (Con) once complained that LGA meetings are “infested with districts” and counties’ wants are therefore drowned out.
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire also indicated that the council hasn’t yet made a final decision as to whether it will leave the LGA.
The Broads Authority National Park are also on notice to leave the LGA on 31 March 2019 and East Staffordshire BC, the Richmond upon Thames LBC and Exmoor National Park have all given notice to leave for 31 March 2020.
However, Southend BC has decided that after being on a rolling one year notice period to leave LGA membership for the last two years, it is now committing to continued membership.
”The proposed [council] budget continues to provide the relevant budget for continued membership, and therefore it should be noted the LGA are to be advised that the council will withdraw its’ rolling one year notice and instead have continued membership of the LGA,” a Southend BC spokesperson explained.
LGA members have also agreed to formation of a new LGA incorporated company in order for the organisation to generate money commercially - and potentially to make up for any gaps in future funding.
”All members agreed to the formation of a company as the most effective way to manage all our resources for the benefit of our members,” a spokesperson for the LGA explained. ”These resources include two buildings. The LGA uses part of one of the buildings as offices with the majority of the floor space being available for rent. This commercial approach is designed to ensure we can continue to represent and support councils effectively into the future.”