Conference season is an opportunity for the LGA to shape the debate around budgets and Brexit

As I write, the Local Government Association is working with our councillors, national politicians and stakeholders - including think tanks, charities and businesses - to ensure that local government's priorities are heard across the party conferences.

Conference season gives the LGA an opportunity to engage with all political parties, writes David Holdstock
Conference season gives the LGA an opportunity to engage with all political parties, writes David Holdstock

This year’s party conferences come at an unprecedented time for the country and an important part of our history.

As a high-profile political milestone with significant national media interest, conference season is an opportunity for the LGA to take our campaign priorities and road test them with members of all the different political parties.

Through their political networks, our politicians will also seek to influence their party's policies to secure commitments that will help support local government and our campaigning in the coming parliamentary session.

As well as making the case for local government to be given the powers and funding to bring certainty in an uncertain time, the key themes for local government that our councillors will be raising on the national stage are skills, local government funding and business rates retention, housing, and adult and children's social care.

Our councillors, including our chairman, Lord Porter, and our group leaders, are speaking at a range of debates, roundtables and receptions, as well as meeting stakeholders to raise the profile of local government.

The key message for the national politicians is that councils know what the skills gaps are in their local areas and are best placed to address them.

David Holdstock, director of comms at the Local Government Association

We are hosting our own debates at the conferences, including discussions on addressing the skills gap, where senior national and local politicians will be joined by the Learning and Work Institute, an expert voice on creating a better skilled workforce.

The key message for the national politicians is that councils know what the skills gaps are in their local areas and are best placed to address them.

However, the current systems and funding models – numerous separate pots of money requiring a range of bidding processes – do not allow local areas to deliver what they need for their residents.

The challenge of ensuring local economies are served by a highly skilled workforce is one all councils are grappling with.

Our debates will share ideas on how councils, working with businesses, colleges and other partners, can meet that challenge.

This includes the PR industry, making sure we have the right skills, in a rapidly changing environment, to match available jobs.

The conferences are quickly followed by an important parliamentary session in the autumn as Westminster turns its attention to legislation including the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and the announcement of this year’s Budget.

We’ve already submitted local government proposals for the Budget to The Treasury.

Councillors from across the political spectrum are making the case at the party conferences and will continue to make the case for powers and funding to be repatriated to local areas.

By taking our campaign priorities to the party conferences we will help to shape the debate as we aim to influence the thinking of MPs, peers and ministers ahead of key national decisions that will affect every local area.

David Holdstock is director of comms at the Local Government Association


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