On Thursday 5 December the Chancellor issued his Autumn Statement. The District Councils’ Network has summarised the key points that will be relevant to districts in The Autumn Statement – District Councils’ Network Briefing.
Local Futures and The MJ research on health determinants sees district councils making up the 10 top performing councils when it comes to economic, social and environmental determinants, as well as overall scores.
Overall Determinants of Health
District councils feature heavily in the top 10 local authorities for overall determinants of health. This includes economic, social and environmental factors that contribute to health. Districts in the top 10 are: Hart DC (1st), Rushcliffe BC (2nd), South Oxfordshire DC (3rd), Waverley BC (4th), South Northamptonshire DC (5th), West Oxfordshire DC (6th), Harborough DC (8th), East Hampshire DC (9th) and Chiltern DC (10th).
The five measures that make up the economic determinants score are: unemployment, the highest qualifications held by the adult resident population, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 achievement by children, the proportion of people employed in manual occupations, and gross weekly pay; equally weighted and indexed to the national average. For economic determinants, Hart DC once again takes 1st place, together with districts Winchester City Council (2nd), Surrey Heath BC (3rd), Waverley BC (4th), Guildford BC (5th), Horsham DC (7th), Tandridge DC (8th), Epsom and Ewell BC (9th) and South Oxfordshire DC (10th).
Levels of deprivation, child poverty, fuel poverty, crime and social cohesion make up the social determinant score. Nine of the ten best councils for social determinats are again district councils. Mid Sussex DC comes top, followed by Chiltern DC (2nd), Horsham DC (3rd), West Oxfordshire DC (4th), South Oxfordshire DC (5th), South Cambridgeshire DC (6th), South Northamptonshire DC (8th), Hart DC (9th) and Vale of White Horse DC (10th).
Districts Harborough, North Kevesten, East Dorset, Maldon, South Norfolk, Rushcliffe, West Oxfordshire, Uttlesford, New Forest and Hart make up all of the top 10 councils for environmental determinants. This is measured by compiling scores on: household occupancy/overcrowding, the natural environment, social housing, levels of homelessness, and the living environment for residents.
The DCN publication “District Action on Public Health” outlines how district councils are critical to delivering public health in two-tier areas, as districts deliver planning, housing, environmental health, licensing and community safety, as well as economic development and benefits advice which contribute towards the wider determinants of public health.
Our four-part seminar series explores the contribution of districts to the public health agenda, and more details can be found here. These seminars are for district councils, county councils and CCG representatives in two-tier areas.
More information on The MJ and Local Futures research can be found here (subscription required).
In April 2013, as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the government removed the spare room subsidy from the social rented sector for households of working age tenants who were considered to have more bedrooms than they needed.
This is research into the expected impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy on District Councils in England using data taken from the Local Government Association publication ‘The Local Impacts of Welfare Reform.’ This research examines the impact on employed and unemployed households in Districts and shows different geographical impacts; this is due to average rents and the amount of dwellings in different regions.
See below for the report.
The DCN and Society of District Council Treasurers (SDCT) have conducted a survey examining the Localisation of Council Tax Support (LCTS).
The survey demonstrated that the majority of councils have made cuts of up to 8.5% for working age claimants on council tax support. It also showed that there was a variability in the type of schemes chosen by district councils. The majority of councils envisage their LCTS scheme to continue unchanged into 2014/15, however some are contemplating more cuts to working age claimants benefits.
The survey and a brief summary note on the results are below.
The DCN and County Councils Network (CCN) have submitted a joint letter of response to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, on the technical consultation on the New Homes Bonus and Local Growth Fund.
In the letter the DCN and CCN express strong opposition to the proposal that councils should pool £400m of New Homes Bonus in 2015/16 as part of the Local Growth Fund. It calls for the government to work closely with the DCN, CCN and Local Government Association (LGA) to develop alternative proposals to help the government achieve both housing and economic growth.
See below for the letter of response.
The DCN submitted a response to the Department of Communitites and Local Government (DCLG) technical consultation on the New Homes Bonus (NHB) and Local Growth Fund on 20th September 2013.
In this response the DCN strongly opposes the government’s proposition that £400m currently allocated for NHB funding should form part of the £2bn funding to the Local Growth Fund. The DCN asks for the government to enter a dialogue so that a more acceptable source of funding can be identified to meet the government’s objectives whilst not undemining the acceleration of housing delivery.
Please see below for the DCN’s full response.
On the 4th September 2013 the DCN held its first District Action on Public Health Seminar. This focused on the Wider Determinants of Public Health.
Below are the presentations from the seminar.
Below is the DCN’s response to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Growth, Local Enterprise Partnerhships and Enterprise Zones call for evidence on how LEPs can deliver local growth strategies.
Please see below a DCN Policy Briefing, updating members on recent developments in the field of Community Safety. The briefing provides information on the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Bill, Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 and Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.
The District Councils’ Network and the Society of District Council Treasurers (SDCT) commissioned a research report into Disabled Facilites Grants (DFGs) in England conducted by Astral Advisory in early 2013. This report was discussed at a DCN event examining DFGs in June 2013.
To view a copy of the report please click on the following link. DFG Report Final pdf.
The following is the DCN response to the report. DCN Response to Disabled Facilities Grants Research.
On Thursday 13th June 2013 the DCN hosted a networking event for District Council Chief Executives. This event was well attended and provided an opportunity for chief executives to meet and discuss the key issues facing district councils today and in the future.
There were presentations on finance, economic growth and welfare reform at this event; this was followed by round table discussions on these issues. Below are the presentations delivered at the conference:
Today the DCN is publishing Localising Growth: The district contribution to delivering City Deals. This collection of articles explores the vital role of districts in developing and delivering the First & Second Wave City Deal proposals. Contributions from Greg Clark MP, the LGA, New Local Government Network, Andrew Bacon and a variety of district council members including Tamworth, Chesterfield, Norwich and East Staffordshire, prove that districts have been at the heart of the City Deals initiative.
The contributions to Localising Growth show the wide-ranging and vital contribution of district councils. Districts have the growth enabling services, capacity and expertise to work collaboratively with district, unitary or county partners, LEPs and local businesses to lead on the new economic growth agenda. This is one that sees localities, rather than Whitehall, as the generators and drivers of economic growth, supported by devolved resources and additional powers and flexibilities.
As we head towards important announcements on the implementation of the Heseltine recommendations, the Coalition needs to acknowledge the integral role of districts, and two-tier areas, in securing and sustaining economic recovery. Whilst Local Growth Deals in 2015 are welcomed, unleashing the true potential of county areas, and sustaining an economic recovery, requires the Government to take more immediate action. Over the coming months substantial resources across skills, transport, housing and infrastructure need to be devolved to local government and its partners to continue to deliver the economic growth this country badly needs.
Greg Clark, Financial Secretary to the Treasury & Cities Minister:
‘This publication is a timely reminder that district councils have a big part to play in this programme. Indeed, district councils have already helped to shape the first wave of City Deals — as shown by Tony Goodwin’s account of Tamworth Borough Council’s involvement in the Birmingham City Deal. I’m encouraged by the fact that district councils are engaging with this process and thinking through the implications. This collection of essays is proof of this thought and engagement and I congratulate the District Councils’ Network for bringing these important contributions together.’
Cllr Chris Knowles-Fitton, DCN Executive Lead for Economic Growth:
‘This latest DCN publication shows that on economic growth and City Deals, districts are leading on a new growth agenda in the UK. In areas where City Deals stretch across two-tier areas, districts are demonstrating that they have a vital contribution to make across devolved powers and resources in skills, transport, housing and major infrastructure. District councils are a key enabler of growth and their increasingly role in initiatives such as City Deals, and future Local Growth Deals, will help sustain the recovery this county needs and help the sector meet its savings requirements over the coming years.’
Christine Fisher, DCEN Lead for LEPs:
‘The contributions to localising growth demonstrate that districts right across England are leading the agenda on local economic growth strategies, in the process redefining the relationship between localities and Whitehall on who should lead on growth. Districts are proving their ability to be part of, and lead, City Deals, using their expertise and growth enabling services to facilitate collaborative approaches to boosting economic activity across a number of key growth markets’.
Download your free copy
On 3rd June the DCN hosted an event on Disabled Facilities Grants- Are they fit for the future.
This event brought together officers and members to discuss the role of district councils in delivering DFG’s and looked into research on this issue.
Below are presentations from the event:
Below is the DCN response to the DCLG consultation on the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010.
Today, the DCN publishes its evidence to the Communities & Local Government Select Committee on Community Budgets.
The DCN and its members have been strong supporters of the Government’s community budgets programme. Among’st participating district councils there has been and remains a strong commitment to the ambitions and principles of Community Budgets and a united recognition of the need for public services to be reformed to improve outcomes and reduce overall costs.
Our evidence demonstrates that districts have been full and active participants in the programme, particularly the Whole Essex Community Budget Pilot. The evidence clearly demonstrates that better outcomes and savings can only be secured through the integration of frontline district services across a range of areas including housing, community safety and benefits. The evidence provides a number of observations and recommendations to ensure districts continue to play a full and active role in the further roll-out across two-tier areas.
Whilst districts believe Community Budgets will lead to improved public services and better outcomes for local residents, there remains less clarity on whether districts (in the short-term) would be net contributors or net beneficiaries; particularly in relation to cashable savings. The DCN recognises that other parts of the public sector will be better enabled to secure their efficiencies and savings because of district involvement and that collective savings will be achieved; but this will be at the districts’ expense.
This is not a plea for more resource to be channelled to districts, but we call for recognition from Government of the specific contribution from districts in its future funding deliberations, especially for 2015/16. It is imperative that public sector partners work closely with Whitehall to develop a robust formula that can take these factors into consideration in relation to both the local distribution and reallocation of total and individual agency savings. The financial frameworks of community budgets need to convincing, robust and fair; correctly incentivise all public sector agencies to take part; and engender organisational commitment in the short, medium and long-term if they are to achieve their worthwhile aims.
Steve Atkinson, DCEN Chairman said
‘Our discussions with districts demonstrated that they have much to bring to the Community Budgets table and, if integration is to lead to improved outcomes and savings, districts must and will play a full and active part. In taking forward Community Budgets, it is important that financial frameworks correctly incentivise districts to take part. We ask that Whitehall and wider public sector partners acknowledge the vital role of local authorities in leading these programs to secure savings for a range of agencies, and not doubly penalise district councils through successive spending rounds and the unfair recycling and distribution of agency savings.’
Cllr Tony Jackson, DCN Executive Lead for New Ways of Working said,
‘Community Budgets will clearly play a central role in the future of public service delivery. The improvements in outcomes and savings they can generate make greater public service integration a priority for local authorities. The DCN submission provides valuable insights into the experiences of district councils and sensible recommendations on taking forward Community Budgets across two-tier areas.’
Please see below for the District Councils Network submission to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, for the Comprehensive Spending Review 2015/16.
During March 2013 the DCN (supported by the LGA) surveyed Senior Councillors within our membership to gather an indication of the levels of partnership engagement, particularly in relation to the forming of Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Police & Crime Plans.
Overall, the results demonstrate good levels of engagement and communication during the development of Police & Crime Plans, despite the extremely tight timescales imposed by the legislation. The majority of district respondents also indicated that positive partnership work and engagement was beginning to develop locally, and in the main they are confident that districts can work collaboratively with PCCs to deliver local policing priorities.
Download the full results below:
On 22nd March the DCN submitted our reponse to the Universal Credit Framework.
This submission expressed a lack of confidence regarding the freedom district councils have to develop this reform in a way which best suits their community. We have asked the DWP for further engagement with district councils to ensure the transition to Universal Credit is as smooth as possible and does not put vulnerable people into a more vulnerable position.
Below is the letter submitted to Lord Freud, an Executive Summary and a survey conducted for the response.
Following the publication of the Government’s Response to the Heseltine Review, the DCN have produced a members briefing on the measures effecting district councils, as well as a statement on the overall package of policies below.
In response to the Treasury & Lord Heseltine, the DCN said:
In November 2012, the District Councils’ Network (DCN) welcomed the majority of Lord Heseltine’s recommendations in his review and report No Stone Unturned in the Pursuit of Growth. Whilst we firmly rejected his call for a uniform move towards unitary status in two-tier local authority areas, we welcomed many of his recommendations on devolving and decentralising influence, power and resources over economic growth.
In their formal response, the Government is right to heed the sector’s concerns over centrally imposed local government reorganisation. Rather than be distracted by the cost and upheaval of these unnecessary reforms, the Government is instead right to focus on, and strengthen, the district role in securing economic prosperity for their local communities.
The creation of a single, devolved, pot funding is particularly welcomed. Alongside the creation of LEPs and district involvement in the first and second wave of City Deals, this continues a process of dispersing the levers of economic power from Whitehall to localities. As the Coalition acknowledge, local authorities and their private sector partners are best placed to understand the needs of local economies and take the lead on economic growth.
If the Government devolve the necessary funding streams and powers through the single pot, this will enable local government and their partners to deliver the national priority of improved economic performance and strengthen its commitment to localism and decentralisation. It is vital that the Government shows real backing for these measures at the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). The Chancellor should ensure that he decentralises the substantial resources and range powers identified within the Heseltine Review, whilst delivering a fair and sustainable financial settlement for local government that promotes, rather than hinders, its ability to support local economies.
On 7th March the DCN hosted it’s Spring Assembly. This Assembly was well attended with Nick Boles MP, the Planning Minister, as one of the speakers.
This Assembly also had speakers from the New Local Government Network (NLGN), Norwich City Council and WENTA. Below are the presentations delivered by the speakers (please note Nick Boles MP did not use a presentation).
Today at the DCN Assembly we are launching the New Local Government Network (NLGN) report The Road Not Taken – New Ways of Working for District Councils, supported DCN.
The report argues that districts can be a central cog of local growth. It identifies how bold districts are realising their potential, partnering with developers, businesses and LEPs to attract investment and employment to their areas. By way of example, districts are:
- Investing in new house building
- Unlocking retail and business development
- Leading on City Deal bids
The research also found that the majority of district council chief executives are confident in their council’s ability to deliver short and medium term priorities. But they recognise that this confidence must be translated into new ways of working and economic recovery driven from the bottom up.
NLGN Director, Simon Parker, said: “Far from retreating in the face of the cuts, many district councils have chosen to lead the way in driving growth, reshaping their organisations and sharing management teams. This is a time of profound change in the shires, but this report suggests that confident districts have their best days ahead of them.”
Cllr Tony Jackson, DCN Lead member for new ways of working, said:” DCN welcomes this report and thanks the NLGN for its hard work. It marks the beginning of the debate among districts and the type of councils they want to be in the future. It is important now that we support districts to recognise the paths they can take and work with them to achieve their visions for the future.”
Download your copy of the report NLGN – The Road Not Taken
In this week’s MJ their is an exclusive piece of research showcasing the work of districts in promoting economic growth. The piece has contributions from Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP, district chief executives Tony Curtis, Christine Fisher and Gary Payne, and district council leaders Cllr Chris Knowles-Fitton, Cllr David Mackintosh and Cllr John Fuller.
Download a PDF copy of the research below.
On Monday the DCN hosted its Public Health Event at Local Government House, London. The event was a great success and was attended by over 120 people from districts, county councils, and the health sector. This event launched our new Publication District Action on Public Health. This can be downloaded here.
Below are the slides from the presentations delivered by our speakers (please note Duncan Selbie did not use a presentation).
To continue the vital dialogue on the district role in public health, the DCN have created a specific Knowledge Hub Group. You can access the group by clicking here. To access the group you must be a member of Knowledge Hub. If you’re not already a member, it’s quick and easy to become a member by clicking here. This group is aimed at discussing the content of District Action on Public Health and more importantly sharing best practice and your local experiences of implementation.
Today at our Public Health Event in London, the District Councils’ Network is publishing District Action on Public Health; how district councils contribute towards the new health & wellbeing agenda in local government. Produced in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), District Action on Public Health comprehensively explores the district contribution to the new public health system in England. Demonstrating the sector’s impact across the wider determinants, health improvement and health protection, the publication provides essential information for public health stakeholders and best practice case studies of service delivery and public health collaboration in two-tier areas. District Action on Public Health is a major contribution to ensuring district councils play an important role in the new public health system and help to deliver lasting improvements to health outcomes and reductions in health inequalities.
In response to the Government’s Mid-Term Review, the DCN has today published a policy briefing for member authorities. This short briefing outlines 10 key areas of reform the Government intends to take forward over the reminder of this Parliament that will impact on district authorities. It also provides DCN reaction to the proposals.
Below is a publication by the DCN on Local Enterprise Partnerships: The Role and Contribution in unlocking growth
This publication sets out the role of district councils in delivering local growth and how they can use these powers to support Local Enterprise Partnerships. The role of delivering growth is recognised as a districts responsibility and their
involvement in LEP’s is essential.
The publication can be found here: DCN Local Enterprise Partnerships: The Role and Contribution in unlocking growth
Today the DCN publishes the results of the public health surveys it carried out with its own district members and also county councils on the specific role of district councils in the public health reforms.
The results show overwhelming support for the reforms in two-tiers areas and the role of district councils in successfully delivering the new public health arrangements. Whilst there are local challenges to implementation in two-tier areas, there has been a 24% increase in levels of ‘positive’ engagement amongst districts with Health & Well-being Boards, whilst both tiers believe there is strong and varied role for the sector in the new public health agenda.
The full report can be found here: DCN Public Health Survey
The District Councils’ Network has produced a briefing for members and interested bodies on the recommendations of Lord Heseltine’s Review of economic growth in the UK. This briefing provides a DCN analysis of the recommendations that impact on District Councils and the local government sector more widely.
Please see below the presentations from the two Police and Crime Commissioner Events held in Stafford and London during November.
Please see below the District Councils’ Network submission to the Communities & Local Government Select Committee ‘Investigation into the future role of English local authorities in health issues’.
Our submission has been accepted by the Committee as evidence and is currently with them pending publication of their report.