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LGC100: The top 20 in local government's powerlist

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The LGC100 identifies the most influential people whose work will shape local government in 2017. Our list includes officers, members, national politicians, civil servants and thinkers.

The list was compiled using nominations from the public, the LGC editorial team and a panel of judges. Read more about how we compiled the list here.

Jo Farrar

Jo Farrar

19 Jo Farrar, director general for local government, Department for Commmunities & Local Government

The former chief executive of Bath & North East Somerset Council started work in this key role for central/local relations in August 2016. It was more a return to the civil service than new ground for Ms Farrar, who has previously worked for the Department for Work & Pensions, the Home Office and the Cabinet Office.

Joanne Roney

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

18 Joanne Roney, chief executive, Wakefield MDC

Joanne Roney in April takes over perhaps the most coveted role in local government - that of replacing Sir Howard Bernstein as Manchester City Council’s chief executive. But she does so at a time when the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will surely take some influence of her new employer in guiding the wider city’s economic development. How her role dovetails with that of the GMCA’s officer lead could hugely influence similar relationships elsewhere. Ms Roney’s experience in Wakefield where she contributed to dramatic improvements in services, as well as her clear influence across the Leeds City Region, will surely have impressed her new employers.

Melanie Dawes

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

17 Melanie Dawes, permanent secretary, Department for Communities & Local Government

A career civil servant with a track record that includes stints at the Treasury, HM Revenue & Customs and the Cabinet Office, Ms Dawes became the DCLG’s permanent secretary just before the 2015 general election. Her role is central in a range of policy areas including devolution, planning, housing, local enterprise partnerships and cohesion. DCLG, like all departments, will face difficulty next year as it fights to retain key staff as Whitehall reorganises for Brexit. Nevertheless, all eyes will be on the DCLG to deliver the growth in housing demanded by the government.

Tom riordan new website

Tom riordan new website

16 Tom Riordan, chief executive, Leeds City Council

Tom Riordan has been chief executive of Leeds since 2010 and has been central to driving Leeds’ economic fortunes, as well as improving services in the city. Leeds is the biggest regional powerhouse without a mayoral devolution deal. Mr Riordan will be a key influence in determining if this remains a sustainable position. The inputs of Conservative MPs who have sought the inclusion of their areas in any deal and proposals for Yorkshire-wide, as opposed to Leeds City Region, devolution mean the devo debate in Leeds remains unresolved as we enter 2017.

Mark rogers

Mark rogers

15 Mark Rogers, chief executive, Birmingham City Council

Mr Rogers may no longer be the president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers, but he has plenty to keep him occupied at Birmingham, the largest single-tier authority by population in Europe, and one with some of the most far-reaching problems. The council faces a £49m overspend and major challenges in services, with social work being a perennial worry. The council’s announcement that it will create a children’s trust has not led it to escape further criticisms from Ofsted; the attentions of a government-appointed improvement panel will not go away. While the scale of Mr Rogers’ challenge is huge, the scope for his city to benefit from devolution remains strong.

Claire kober

Claire Kober (use this if using big)

14 Clare Kober (Lab), leader, Haringey LBC

As chair of London Councils Cllr Kober is playing a key part in London’s push for further devolution and, in particular, fiscal reform (as a member of the London Finance Commission) and business rate retention. She also leads the Local Government Association’s work on finance and resources at member level.

Nick forbes

Nick forbes

13 Nick Forbes (Lab), leader, Newcastle City Council

Cllr Forbes won the leadership of the Local Government Association’s Labour group early this year. Despite his party’s difficulties at a national level, Labour was only a whisker away from winning control of the LGA in 2016 and there is the very real possibility Cllr Forbes could take its chairmanship from Lord Porter after the May council elections. Cllr Forbes has been leader of Newcastle since 2011, and was instrumental in the agreement of the original North East devolution deal, which collapsed in September. 2017 will determine whether Newcastle, North Tyneside Council and Northumberland CC succeed in salvaging a breakaway deal from the wreckage of this.

Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham

12 Andy Burnham, Labour mayoral candidate, Greater Manchester Combined Authority

While his political career has previously seen him miss out on the Labour leadership, Andy Burnham is widely regarded as a shoo-in to become the first mayor of Greater Manchester in May. Mr Burnham has so far been critical of the closeness of the architects of his city’s devo deal to the government and would surely shake up the city’s old guard if he wins power. The former Labour health secretary has long been an enthusiast of health and social care integration; mayoral election victory could give him an opportunity to make his vision a reality. He has also made the case for developing a new ‘council of the north’ as a counterpoint to the south’s dominance of English politics. Mr Burnham could really shake up English politics as devolution takes shape. However, LGC’s judges’ decision to place him outside the top 10 shows the scale of reservations that metro mayors really can have an impact.

Louise Casey

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

11 Louise Casey, director general for the Casey Review, Department for Communities & Local Government

Ms Casey, seemingly the government’s go-to civil servant for difficult topics, this year faced opprobrium when a report by Ecorys found there was “no evidence” the flagship Troubled Families programme had “any significant or systemic impact”. Her much-anticipated review of community cohesion has also proved divisive, with some criticising its focus on Muslims while others praised it for opening up an honest dialogue on segregation. Our judges felt that it would not be long before Ms Casey was moved on to another important brief relevant to local government.

Sadiq Khan

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

10 Sadiq Khan (Lab), mayor, Greater London Authority

The London mayor should be expected to inspire both his Labour counterparts in local government and metro mayors elsewhere in 2017. Mr Khan is the standard bearer of his party’s moderates who will hope he can use London as a base to show how power trumps idealism. He will seek further devolution as part of a drive to ensure a city that voted overwhelmingly against Brexit feels empowered in a country that is increasingly its political polar opposite. The London Finance Commission, reconvened by Mr Khan, will make a case for devolution that will echo far beyond the M25 while the mayor can also be expected to provide leadership on skills and tackling London’s chronic housing shortage.

Jon Rouse, DG for social care at DH

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

9 Jon Rouse, chief officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

Next year will be the partnership’s second year in charge of the region’s devolved £6bn health and social care budget and the year in which the dream behind ‘Devo-Manc’ – improved health and care outcomes driven by subsidiarity and clearer regional accountability – must become a reality. It is also the year in which the new mayor will be elected, with whom leading officers such as Mr Rouse must build good working relationships. There are also serious challenges ahead that Mr Rouse must help the partnership to navigate; Greater Manchester is not immune from the social care funding crisis, for instance, which is set to worsen. Health leaders warned in the region’s sustainability and transformation plan that there would be a £176m financial gap for social care services by 2021, despite Greater Manchester’s £450m transformation fund.

Jo Miller

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

8 Jo Miller, president, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers

The election of the council chief executive who is perhaps least afraid to air her own opinion to the presidency of Solace is likely to ruffle feathers. Ms Miller will need to balance her instinctive desire to make an input on policy with the need to win over ministers, who will not necessarily listen to someone they regard as a political opponent. Ms Miller took chief executive role at Doncaster MBC in January 2012 and has taken on the challenges that authority faced with a thirst for reform; Doncaster was the first authority to create an independent children’s trust. She will use her Solace presidency to champion the role of women in local government senior management.


Nick timothy

Nick timothy

Source: Alamy

7 Nick Timothy, chief of staff, No 10

Much has been made of Mr Timothy’s admiration for Joseph Chamberlain, about whom he wrote a short history, and the influence of this on Theresa May’s thinking on localism. He has the ear of the prime minister, having worked for her at the Home Office. Mr Timothy’s enthusiasm for grammar schools is said to have been a major factor in the reintroduction of this to mainstream Conservative policy, while this Brummie’s influence in shaping the May administration’s relative enthusiasm for devolution to the West Midlands should not be underestimated. Our judges remarked that Mr Timothy “runs the policy shop” for Ms May.

Mark Lloyd

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

6 Mark Lloyd, chief executive, Local Government Association

As pressures on local government mount, the LGA, its chairman Lord Porter and to an extent, its chief executive Mr Lloyd face an ever-more difficult task. For starters, Mr Lloyd has admitted that the association must present good value for money to councils or risk losing their membership as budgets tighten even more. The government’s interim social care funding solution, branded ‘inadequate’ by adult services directors, followed a concerted effort from the LGA and others for reform and demonstrated just how difficult it is to represent the sector to a government that does not always listen. The LGA will need to offer a carrot to ministers in terms of a solution to society’s problems as well as the stick of getting political mileage from complaining about funding in order to fulfil its objectives. The continuing debate on fairer funding including business rates reform will pit different types of councils against one another and it will take skill and diplomacy from Mr Lloyd to keep the peace within the association.

Simon Stevens

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

5 Simon Stevens, chief executive, NHS England

A former Downing Street health adviser under Tony Blair, Mr Stevens is good at playing the political game and has made the most of NHS England’s independence from government. Adherence to his 2014 Five Year Forward View, which placed great emphasis on prevention and social care, is still considered the best chance the NHS has to reach sustainability. Further changing the tenor of the national debate on health and care funding, he said in June 2016 any extra cash available from the government should go to social care rather than the NHS. But reframing the debate is only part of the battle. In 2017 Mr Stevens must make his ambitions a reality. He faces the challenge of pushing leaders of sustainability and transformation plan areas to be truly radical (all plans are now published but many miss out vital information and fail to tackle long-standing problems), and the Herculean task of convincing central government to stump up more much-needed cash for social care in order to make the NHS sustainable.

Lord Porter

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

4 Lord Porter (Con), chairman, Local Government Association

The refreshingly candid Lord Porter seemed to make a strong case for a lower ranking in the LGC100 by admitting he did not have the same bond with communities secretary Sajid Javid as he did with his predecessor Greg Clark. And one significant figure in the sector has queried to LGC how Lord Porter can make a case for extra resources for councils when he takes the Tory whip in the Lords, voting for an overall government programme that is not always kind to the sector. However, our judges believed Lord Porter can use his at-least weekly meetings with Mr Javid to make a powerful case for devolution and much more besides, rankinig him the most influential figure in local government. Lord Porter last year challenged aspects of the government’s housing reforms – and although the Housing & Planning Act came into being there are signs that current ministers may be slightly more amenable to local government’s thinking.

Gavin Barwell

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

3 Gavin Barwell, housing and planning minister, Department for Communities & Local Government

It is rare for someone at minister of state rank to make it so high up the LGC100 list. However, to be minister of housing at a time when housing provision has been earmarked as a key government priority offers him a significant platform to shine, especially when many of his government colleagues face seeing their goals fail as Whitehall gets bogged down by Brexit. Already on Mr Barwell’s watch, pay-to-stay has already been scrapped and the national rollout of right-to-buy has been delayed. Mr Barwell’s acknowledgement that councils can build homes for social rent will result in many councils yearning for him to make a success of his role. His housing white paper, due early in 2017, could signal a dramatic change in the sector’s ability to tackle housing shortages.

Greg Clark

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

2 Greg Clark, business secretary, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

While other allies of George Osborne have fallen by the wayside, Greg Clark has won promotion to another department in which devolution could be critical to success. While Theresa May’s attitude to the hand-down of power is unclear, it is apparent that she supports a more interventionist approach to industry. The appointment of such a devolution enthusiast to business perhaps offers councils a new means of gaining influence over their area’s local economic destiny. Mr Clark’s new industrial strategy will be eagerly awaited. While it is unclear whether Mr Clark’s favoured model of elected mayors overseeing combined authorities will remain the government’s preferred one for all local areas, it is certain that in Mr Clark councils have one of their biggest friends in one of the Cabinet’s most influential jobs.

Sajid Javid

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

1 Sajid Javid, communities secretary, Department for Communities & Local Government

Sajid Javid appeared to take some time to find his feet at the DCLG, prompting some to speculate that his heart was not in a job considered by some a demotion from his former business secretary role. However, Mr Javid will surely able to say that he was the communities secretary under whose watch powers are finally devolved to a significant number of local areas. He now faces the task of making devolution a success – even if his political foes win most of the prominent roles – and ensuring local government is not divided into an empowered minority and a left-behind majority. Blunders such as barely mentioning devolution in his Tory conference speech and failure to take a local government representative on a North American trade mission can be overcome – and Mr Javid has appeared to show more enthusiasm as of late for the aspects of his brief unrelated to housing. Mr Javid has somehow managed to get councils some extra money to spend on social care, whilst enabling the government to insist it was delivering lower council tax bills, even if the extra amount falls far short of what councils were seeking. He has also supported an oath of public office, shown some enthusiasm for discussing the gritty issues covered in the Casey review. However, at the cabinet table Mr Javid’s success will undoubtedly be judged on whether he can get more houses built. Alongside housing minister Gavin Barwell, Mr Javid has huge potential to restore the role of councils as significant players in easing England’s chronic housing shortage.


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