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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 2018. 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.

Andy Burnham

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

20 Andy Burnham (Lab), mayor, Greater Manchester CA

Andy Burnham’s placement reflected a scepticism among LGC’s judges about the influence of combined authority mayors. Mr Burnham clearly hit the ground running with a series of announcements in his first few months in the role and – crucially – worked well with existing Greater Manchester organisations following the Manchester Arena bomb. As the euphoria from his election fades and the realities of the limited nature of his powers become obvious, the onus is on Mr Burnham to use his soft influence and high profile to be a driving force to help Manchester’s public services benefit from further devolution. Refranchising bus routes and campaigning for significant skills powers could be 2018 priorities.


rob whiteman

rob whiteman

19 Rob Whiteman, chief executive, Cipfa

Rob Whiteman has a reputation for telling it like it is. A former council chief executive and section 151 officer, he is one of local government’s most credible and outspoken champions but is not afraid to criticise when appropriate. 

Cipfa has members across the public sector including in the health service, and Mr Whiteman also chairs the North East London Sustainability and Transformation Plan, making him an influential voice across the health and social care divide. 

Cipfa’s work to revise its prudential code during 2017 is considered by many to have dampened the fervour of some in government to restrict councils’ commercial borrowing abilities. As budgets get ever tighter in 2018 Mr Whiteman will be an invaluable voice speaking up for the sector. 


Sadiq Khan

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

18 Sadiq Khan (Lab), mayor of London

The past 12 months have been dominated by Grenfell Tower and the London terror attacks. Sadiq Khan is perceived to have risen to these challenges with impassioned responses. 

The impact of Brexit on the capital remains a pressing issue and Mr Khan has announced measures to tackle air pollution. He has pushed for higher levels of affordable housing but his draft London Plan set lower targets than those announced by the government. 

Mr Khan signed London’s long-awaited health devolution deal in November that will provide new flexibilities over the use of money raised through the sale of NHS assets, streamlined NHS regulation and delegation of commissioning responsibility for primary care and specialised services to encourage investment in prevention.


amanda speilman

amanda speilman

17 Amanda Spielman, chief inspector, Ofsted

The appointment of a founding member of an academy chain leadership team as Ofsted’s chief inspector was controversial. However, Ms Spielman has started decisively. She has overseen the final development of a new children’s social care inspection framework that aims to be more proportionate and identify councils at risk of problems. Her first annual report struck a positive note about social care services and marked a departure from her predecessor, Sir Michael Wilshaw. The report time included a reference to councils in deprived areas dealing with high demand and funding cuts struggling to maintain quality services. The regulator under Ms Spielman’s leadership could be a powerful advocate for local government in making the case for more funding.


Izzi Seccombe

Izzi Seccombe

16 Izzi Seccombe (Con), leader Warwickshire CC

In her role as chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, Izzi Seccombe has been one the highest-profile voices making the case for further investment in adult social care. She has been a vehement critic of delayed transfer of care targets and the threat to withdraw improved better care fund money. On the eve of sharing the stage with NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens at the LGA conference last July, Cllr Seccombe also described the NHS as “inefficient” and a “dinosaur”, and highlighted councils’ more significant role in communities. 

As some councils face having funding withdrawn and no solution for adult social care finances in sight, Cllr Seccombe’s determination in fighting local government’s corner will be key.   


Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

15 Jeremy Hunt, health and social care secretary

Jeremy Hunt reportedly persuaded the prime minister to keep him as health secretary during the reshuffle in part by successfully making the case for taking on responsibility for the social care green paper. The renaming of the Department of Health to incorporate social care was welcomed by some as government recognition of the importance of significant reform, and Mr Hunt will now be required to be sufficiently bold to put the sector on a sustainable footing while being realistic about what is achievable without a parliamentary majority. The contents of the green paper will be fundamental to the future of local government finances. Will the scale of the current NHS winter crisis will be a boon or an obstacle to radicalism? Precedent suggests the latter.


eamonn boylan

eamonn boylan

14 Eamonn Boylan, chief executive, Greater Manchester CA

As chief executive of Stockport MBC since 2010 and deputy chief executive of Manchester City Council between 1998 and 2008, Eamonn Boylan has been closely involved in the development and agreement of Greater Manchester’s devolution deals. This should assist him in understanding the power balances in the city, which will be affected by his organisation’s new mayor.

Though national politics dictates the West Midlands is the government’s devolution darling, Greater Manchester is still leader of the pack in terms of the scope and development of their plans. It is the only mayoral combined authority to have full devolution of the work and health programme and is likely to be the first to implement bus franchising across its patch. 


Mark Lloyd

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

13 Mark Lloyd, chief executive, Local Government Association 

LGC’s judges described Mark Lloyd as “a diplomat” who has “quietly seen off a lot of strife between the centre and local government”. This year will test his diplomatic skills to the full. In addition to the afore-mentioned fairer funding review, local government reorganisation could cause rifts between different types of council. Mr Lloyd’s message will be that the sector is stronger together. There is also the need to inform ministers of the dire nature of councils’ financial predicament while avoiding being perceived as whinging and the need to reach out to the NHS but to stand up to the pummelling it has given councils over delayed transfers of care. With budgets stretched, the LGA will need to prove its value to members, a number of whom have given notice to leave.


Greg Clark

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

12 Greg Clark, business secretary

The business secretary’s industrial strategy received a mixed response partially as a result of it empowering local enterprise partnerships but there is growing optimism that there are plenty of opportunities for proactive places to become increasingly influential, especially given Greg Clark’s localist credentials. 

While the former communities secretary is generally respected and liked, he has struggled to make an impression on the general public. 

Mr Clark retained his role in January’s reshuffle. It was widely reported that he was to be moved to the Department of Health but that incumbent Jeremy Hunt argued successfully to stay put. Many in local government will be relieved to see a friend of the sector remain in such a high-profile post.


Lord Porter

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

11 Lord Porter (Con), chair, Local Government Association

On balance LGC’s judges believed Lord Porter does have a direct line to ministers. They were also complimentary of his performance following the Grenfell Tower disaster.

However, even with the most effective lobbying organisation, the LGA is going to be limited by political paralysis in Westminster. It is hard to successfully argue for reform when the government itself is weak. And, having warned ministers of the disastrous consequences the sector faces from a £5.8bn funding black hole by 2020, Lord Porter must prove his influence in getting them to finally address it.

The fairer funding review will pitch council against council for scarce resources and could be a millstone around the LGA’s neck. 


Deborah Cadman

Deborah Cadman

10 Deborah Cadman, chief executive, West Midlands CA

So highly regarded was former Suffolk CC chief executive Deborah Cadman that a panel including West Midlands CA mayor Andy Street and the leaders of the seven constituent members unanimously voted for her appointment – and agreed to break the combined authority’s pay cap to make her the highest paid person in such a role in the process.

The success of Mr Street’s term in office now rests on a strong and productive working relationship with Ms Cadman but shared track records of success – and widespread respect in their fields – bodes well for a productive relationship. 

Ms Cadman’s influence has grown through her role as the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers joint spokesperson on leadership. 

She has been a strong advocate for advancing the role of women and has been vocal on the need for council executives to guard against complacency and adapt to evolving circumstances. 

Ms Cadman recently told chiefs they must also understand how their leadership skills are perceived by partner organisations

and the wider public. These skills will be vital to meeting the complex, strategic challenges facing a combined authority still in relative infancy.  


claire kober

claire kober

9 Claire Kober (Lab), leader, Haringey LBC; chair, London Councils 

No longstanding Labour council leader is as vulnerable to the rise of the Corbynistas as Haringey LBC’s Claire Kober, who also happens to the be London’s most senior councillor. While she has survived a deselection battle, the atmosphere within Haringey Labour circles has been described as “sectarian” and a number of senior figures are to stand down. This makes it conceivable Cllr Kober will lose the backing of her group after May’s all-out elections, potentially giving rise to the most far left leadership in local government in recent memory.

The cause of much of this rancour is the Haringey Development Vehicle, a partnership with developer Lendlease that would take more than £2bn of council assets, with the company owning a 50% stake. Haringey’s cabinet approved the plan, which it says will create 6,400 homes and 20,000 jobs, and constitutes the only way estate generation can proceed. Many residents fear it will result in social cleansing.

For the time being, Cllr Kober will continue to be an eloquent spokesperson for London at the time of Brexit and amid some limited devolution. She works well with both London mayor Sadiq Khan (Lab) and the government. Cllr Kober also chairs the Local Government Association resources board, which gives her a crucial role as councils prepare for the fairer funding review.


Joanne Roney

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

8 Joanne Roney, chief executive, Manchester City Council

Stepping into the shoes of Sir Howard Bernstein was never going to be easy. Joanne Roney arrived at a point when Manchester City Council had to show it can coexist and prosper alongside the new Greater Manchester CA mayor, as well as continue the dramatic economic development championed by her predecessor. And the city faces a fair few difficulties in improving its services. 

However, just weeks into the job Ms Roney faced the most horrific challenge of all when she played a key role in coordinating the response to the Manchester Arena terror attack in which 22 people lost their lives. The bomber was also killed. The response of all organisations was seamlessly coordinated, with the combined authority and city council working alongside one another in the spirit of cooperation between public bodies for which Greater Manchester is renowned. This is not to say there will not be stresses and strains in the city. Ms Roney will be a key figure in ensuring Greater Manchester’s largest – and most iconic – council continues its agenda-shaping work with its neighbours. 

Additional developments that will make Manchester and its chief executive a pace-setter in 2018 include the additional funding for revamped unemployment services and a £3.8m package of powers to tackle homelessness in the region. 


Jon Rouse, DG for social care at DH

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

7 Jon Rouse, chief officer, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership

All eyes are on Greater Manchester’s health and social care system and its £6bn devolution deal. As the man in charge, Jon Rouse is tasked with proving that a localist approach to reform can succeed where attempts led from the centre have repeatedly failed. 

A former chief executive of Croydon LBC who spent three years at the Department of Health as director general for social care, Mr Rouse certainly knows his way around the corridors of power, both locally and nationally. 

Widely liked and respected across both health and social care, Mr Rouse has shown himself prepared to publicly air frustrations with national bodies on occasion, complaining publicly last year that the government’s capital funding regime for the NHS was like “driving through fog”. 

The partnership had some successes during its first year of operation in 2016-17, with all but one of the conurbation’s NHS organisations reporting a surplus, in stark contrast to most of their peers elsewhere in the country. 

In an interview with LGC last autumn, Mr Rouse was effusive about the potential of working at a sub-regional level, describing the 2.8 million population as a great size to work with. 

Our judges said of Mr Rouse: “What he’s doing is proof of concept for health and social care integration and devolution, and if it fails there, it will fail everywhere else as well.” So, no pressure then.


Andy street cropped

Andy street cropped

6 Andy Street (Con), mayor, West Midlands CA

Scepticism might have surrounded the mayoral elections, and there were heavy doses of that in the West Midlands, but Andy Street’s relentless energy and enthusiasm has won the region a lot of attention, investment, and a second devolution deal. 

As the Conservatives’ poster boy for devolution, Mr Street will continue to be influential; he is in regular contact with secretaries of state and ministers, helping to shape policy including the development of the industrial strategy. 

At a local level, delivering transport improvements, including the Midland metro tram extension, remains a priority while many will be interested to see whether Mr Street can tackle homelessness through one of three ‘housing first’ pilots.

Mr Street undoubtedly played an influential part in Birmingham’s winning bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, while the West Midlands mayor has now set his sights on getting Channel 4 to move its headquarters to the city. 

All of this has reinforced Mr Street’s credentials as a canny operator who is making the most of the political goodwill coming his, and the region’s, way. 

He has, so far, managed to rise above party politics to keep local leaders onside but he could come under attack from some factions seeking to score political points in the run-up to local elections.


Sajid Javid

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

5 Sajid Javid, Housing & communities secretary

It is a measure of the government’s weakness following its loss of a majority and Brexit-induced paralysis that the cabinet minister responsible for local government only scrapes into the LGC100 top five. 

For a long time Mr Javid gave the impression he was not enjoying his job. He was curiously low-profile and seemed to visit few councils. However, he has got off the fence in recent times. He finally indicated he was minded to support local government reorganisation in Dorset and east Suffolk but will need to overcome parliamentary opposition if he is to leave a lasting structural legacy. 

Mr Javid also announced in the local government finance settlement a new round of business rates pilots and that the council tax precept could rise by an additional 1% – but the growth in councils’ income will still fall short of their rising costs. The government’s loss of parliamentary majority has meant legislation to fully localise business rates was jettisoned and it is surely within the power of no minister to fundamentally solve the sector’s long-term financial woes. The review to redistribute money between authorities will spark controversy in 2018.

Most crucially, Mr Javid has grasped the mettle on the impact of the housing shortage. He did get a rebranding of his department to emphasise its housing focus but not get the £50bn of state borrowing he demanded to build homes.


walkley nick copy

walkley nick copy

4 Nick Walkley, chief executive, Homes England

Prime minister Theresa May has vowed to take “personal charge” of tackling the housing crisis, which is also the housing and communities secretary’s top priority. As chief executive of Homes England (formerly the Homes & Communities Agency), Nick Walkley is set to play a big part in driving that agenda and responding to the issue. 

The Budget red book outlined plans to “strengthen” Homes England’s role in getting more properties built as the government strives to meet its target of constructing 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the next decade. 

Homes England has been charged with using more “investment and planning powers to intervene more actively in the land market”, including having £1.1bn at its disposal to develop strategic sites, new settlements, and urban regeneration schemes. 

In November, communities secretary Sajid Javid issued a threat to 15 councils without a local plan that he could get their housing strategies written for them. 

A section in chapter two of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, which established the HCA, enables the communities secretary to transfer councils’ control of planning powers to the agency, which the organisation’s chair Sir Edward Lister has expressed a strong desire to take on in order to get more homes built. 

In his previous role as chief executive of Haringey LBC Mr Walkley oversaw a rapid redevelopment of the north London borough so he will not be afraid to take a proactive approach to building more homes in other areas as and when the opportunity arises.


Jo Miller

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

3 Jo Miller, chief executive, Doncaster MBC; president, Solace

Jo Miller has a high profile, both as a council chief and as a campaigning president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers.

She has spoken out frequently about equality – between the sexes, people of different ethnic heritages and people of different economic fortunes. So, when there was a dearth of female speakers at a Northern Powerhouse conference last year, perhaps it was inevitable she would lead the condemnation and set up her own People’s Powerhouse promoting “a north that works for everyone”. Similarly, she has exposed the devastating impact of the government’s universal credit reforms on vulnerable groups, urging change.

Ms Miller is likely to be a significant figure in the devolution debate within Yorkshire where support has grown for a pan-county deal at the expense of that for a Sheffield City Region mayor. Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore (Lab) is alleged to have personally rebuked Ms Miller for what she claimed was her role in Doncaster ending its support for a South Yorkshire mayor.

Doncaster’s chief has a reputation for turning around struggling departments, her previous role being heading up the Local Government Association’s sector-led improvement work. Her enduringly successful partnership with mayor Ros Jones (Lab) has dragged Doncaster up from the depths of despair, mired by scandal, to something of which to be proud.

Ms Miller’s term as president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers lasts until October, giving her a greater platform of influence. She will be anxious to prove the organisation carries strength both through lobbying and through a greater emphasis on professional development.


Barry quirk

Barry quirk

2 Barry Quirk, chief executive, Kensington & Chelsea RBC

One could have forgiven Barry Quirk for taking it easy. Within striking distance of clocking up a quarter of a century as Lewisham LBC chief executive, Mr Quirk could have remained in the comfort zone, his status secure as an incredibly senior, successful, knowledgeable and intellectually curious public official.

Then the Grenfell Tower disaster occurred, Kensington & Chelsea RBC shunned offers of help and the council’s name became a byword for callousness and incompetence. Amid calls for a government takeover, the council needed an experienced and competent lead officer, able to garner respect from all sections of the community. One name, above all, seemed the natural choice.

Mr Quirk finds himself in an unprecedented situation. His new council is (or at least until recently has been) relatively unaffected by austerity, much of its population is wealthy and many services are excellent. However, the council failed to protect its most vulnerable residents (although the Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s public inquiry will surely show culpability extended far beyond the council) and now it cannot house them. The highest levels of both Kensington & Chelsea’s officer and political leaderships have been lambasted.

Now Mr Quirk and new council leader Elizabeth Campbell (Con) must forge a double act that proves the council can move on. They must do this first and foremost by housing those made homeless by Grenfell who wish to stay in the borough. Frustration has mounted over the number of people who remain in hotels. 

However, this rather underplays the impact of the cost and scarcity of housing in the borough. The council expects to spend £230m rehousing survivors, partially funded through the axing of £73m of capital projects.

The council simply has to meet its commitment of permanently rehousing survivors within 12 months. Both its reputation and that of local government more broadly are at stake.


Simon Stevens

LGC100: Numbers 19-1

1 Simon Stevens, chief executive, NHS England

The NHS England chief executive’s political savvy, coupled with the special place the health service holds in the nation’s heart, meant Simon Stevens outflanked local government to ensure extra funding for social care announced in the spring Budget would be spent on relieving pressures in hospitals. 

The anger at the delayed transfer targets and accompanying threats of financial penalties released on the eve of the Local Government Association conference in July was compounded by Mr Stevens’ comment from the stage that “laissez faire had not worked”. This provocative and defiant statement in a hostile environment showed this was a man confident that he had got, and would continue to get, his way on the issue. 

The move towards establishing new health and social care integration models, such as accountable care systems, means Mr Stevens will play a key role in determining the terms and conditions local government has to work under. The NHS chief executive is shaping emerging systems at the interface of health and social care that will have a fundamental impact on council finances. With the government’s green paper delayed until next summer, his influence on councils looks set to be pivotal for the foreseeable future.



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Readers' comments (1)

  • The 2nd most powerful person in local government is the CX of K&C? Are you having a laugh? Someone with no direct control and limited influence outside one London borough is more influential than either of the Secretaries of State who decide funding etc for every council in the country? Come on...

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