PUBLIC SECTOR: Lobbying campaigns are on spring agenda for LGA

The Local Government Association is expected to reveal a raft of fresh lobbying campaigns this week.

Priorities for the LGA over the next six months will include financial autonomy for councils, greater influence over planning and education reform and more funds for social care and children's services.

The lobbying push, due to be unveiled this week as part of the LGA's spring policy document, titled 'local solutions, better services', is part of a change of direction for the representative body for English and Welsh councils.

According to LGA director of strategy and communications Phil Swan, the aim is to become more of a campaigning body.

He said: 'Local government is concerned about resources. Central government contributes around 80 per cent of the money but a lot of that is ring-fenced. Councils need greater financial autonomy to better direct resources.

'Our task is to get that message out to government departments, such as Education, the Home Office and Health, that local authorities need more money and greater freedom to meet the needs of local people,' he added.

Other campaigns will include promoting crime reduction initiatives in response to the rioting in areas such as Bradford last year, a move to a six-term school year and gaining regional equality in welfare provision.

The first step in this latest lobbying push comes this week when LGA representatives meet Cabinet members to draw up what is expected to be central and local government's first joint set of priorities for local service provision. Transport secretary Stephen Byers was due to chair the meeting.

Swan says it is hoped these joint priorities will be based on 'real issues such as crime, education and healthcare, which people really care about, rather than abstract processes such as Best Value.'

Leader, p10.

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