Whitehall | LocalGov

Bradford issued Best Value Notice


The Government has issued a Best Value Notice to City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council over concerns about its financial resilience and children’s services.

LGA 'strengthens' peer challenge but still won't name and shame resistant councils


The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched its ‘strengthened’ corporate peer challenge (CPC) to help neutralise the threat from Oflog.

Councils set for £2.5bn in exceptional financial support


The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has agreed to grant 19 local authorities ‘in principle’ capitalisation directions worth almost £2.5bn.

£220m boost for homelessness services


The Government has announced £220m for councils to prevent families from becoming homeless and provide support for people sleeping rough.

Home Office 'chaos' leaves thousands of illegal arrivals in 'perma-backlog'


The Government’s struggling asylum policy has heaped significant demand on cities’ housing services, experts have warned.

Councils should be given more flexibility over fund, says LGA


Councils should be given more flexibility over funding, a senior councillor has said in the aftermath of reallocated funding from HS2.

Regulator calls for 'substantial' planning intervention


The planning system requires ‘substantial intervention’ by the Government to ensure consistent delivery of new homes, a major study has concluded.

Thurrock boosted by £500m after sale


Thurrock Council has received £510m in payments following the sale of Toucan Energy Holdings – the firm that triggered a section 114 notice when it collapsed.

Birmingham 'worse' than commissioners feared


The situation in Birmingham City Council is worse than commissioners expected, a report to the secretary of state has claimed.

New analysis says housing building target needs to rise


England could need over 500,000 news homes every year according to analysis just released.

Government timetable could push councils to issue section 114s


Government’s timeline for implementing changes to tackle risky borrowing by some councils could end up pushing councils into S114 territory, treasurers warn.

Mapley to take over from Whiteman at CIPFA


Hertfordshire CC boss Owen Mapley will take over as Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) chief executive officer when Rob Whiteman retires, it has been announced.

LGA moves towards performance support role


The Local Government Association (LGA) is to take a more proactive role as it seeks to do more to prevent Whitehall intervention in councils, The MJ understands.

Further planning reforms on way, says Gove


Empty shops could be quickly converted into homes and developers given fresh incentives to build on brownfield sites under ministers’ latest plans to expedite housebuilding.

Local government figures made peers


Local government has been recognised in the latest round of peerages, with two senior figures heading to the House of Lords. 

Core Cities in Household Support Fund warning


Failing to extend the Household Support Fund will be ‘catastrophic for many people in our poorest communities,’ Core Cities has warned Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Health boost for Housing First residents, research finds


Housing First – under which homeless people are guaranteed a home while they access support – reduces demand on health and social care services, study finds.

Council financial crisis ‘out of control’


MPs have issued a stark warning on the ‘very real’ prospect of more councils in England ‘effectively going bust’ if the Government does not address a £4bn funding gap.

NILGA welcomes chance of return to Stormont rule


Local government in Northern Ireland has welcomed the news of a possible return to rule at Stormont.

Woking to sell development to county


A major deal between Woking BC, Surrey CC and McLaren is set to help ease the financial pressure on the troubled borough and pave the way to selling its HQ.

Social housing at low risk from 'rogue' equity investors


The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has assured MPs the sector is at lower risk of ‘rogue’ equity investors that previously entered care markets.

Finance settlement ‘undermines levelling up’


The local government finance settlement failed to distribute funding fairly, council bosses have argued.

Southampton latest to request financial support


Southampton City Council has begun the ‘sensible’ process of seeking Exceptional Financial Support (EFS) as it struggles to balance its budgets.

Exempting asylum housing from Awaab's Law branded 'unacceptable'


Charities have described as ‘unacceptable’ plans to exempt asylum accommodation from ‘Awaab’s Law’ forcing social landlords to deal with poor-quality housing.

£17m to help rough sleepers for councils ‘most in need’


The Government has provided £17m to help homeless people off the streets as it insisted it would deliver its pledge to end rough sleeping this year.

Councils lobby for extra support ahead of final finance settlement


Councils have begun 2024 by urgently lobbying Whitehall over extra financial support amid widespread concern the provisional finance settlement falls far short of what’s needed.

Call to end £250m business rate loophole


A campaign to end a loophole which is estimated could cost councils a massive £250m in lost business rates revenue has been backed by senior politicians.

£2.9bn private investment in freeports, says Gove


Michael Gove has said new freeports have attracted £2.9bn of investment and created 6,000 jobs since they were established in 2022.

LGA calls for powers to withhold councillors' address


Monitoring officers should be allowed to withhold councillors’ home addresses from public registers to help tackle rising levels of abuse and hate, Smith Square has said.

Housing provider downgraded by regulator


The social housing regulator has downgraded a major provider across London and the southeast following a review.

Manchester leads list for local government in New Year honours


The chief executives of both Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

Gove intervenes over Khan’s housebuilding plans


Housing secretary Michael Gove has said he is taking urgent action because London is ‘failing’ to provide affordable homes.

Government set to appoint commissioners at Nottingham


The levelling up secretary is ‘minded to’ escalate government intervention at Nottingham due to ‘serious concerns’ over the city council’s finances and governance.

Liverpool to regain certain functions but intervention expected to continue


Liverpool City Council is set to regain control over some of its functions, but commissioners are likely to continue to intervene in specific areas.

Local authority leaders criticise minimum service levels


'Unfair’ and ‘undemocratic’ minimum service levels will lead to ‘more frequent and longer strikes’, according to mayors and council leaders from across UK.

Gove criticises ‘unacceptable’ maladministration findings


Housing secretary Michael Gove has told three councils he will take a ‘personal interest’ in how they improve following findings of severe maladministration by the Housing Ombudsman.

Birmingham given a month to make £300m savings plan


Commissioners have given Birmingham City Council until 7 January to set out a ‘credible plan’ for addressing a £300m budget gap over the next two years.

Home Office admits 'more we can and need to do'


More needs to be done to share data and improve communications with councils, Home Office mandarins have admitted.

Councils welcome PWLB rate extension


Councils have welcomed Jeremy Hunt’s decision to extend preferential Public Works Loan Board borrowing rates for Housing Revenue Account (HRA) expenditure.

Autumn Statement: Hunt devolves but councils face new costs


The chancellor has unfrozen housing benefits and announced positive devolution news in his Autumn Statement, but signalled tighter public spending.

Autumn Statement: Hunt announces surprise LGPS plan


The Chancellor has announced a surprise target to ensure all Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) funds are invested in asset pools of £200bn or more.

Autumn Statement: Unprotected departments face further cuts


So-called ‘unprotected’ Whitehall departments face further budget tightening despite a pledge in the Autumn Statement to increase public sector productivity.

Autumn Statement: Living Wage hike places council budgets under pressure


Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the biggest-ever hike in the UK minimum wage – but the move places strained council finances under fresh pressure.

Autumn Statement: Business rates measures to be fully funded


Plans to extend business rates relief will be fully funded for local authorities, the small print of the Autumn Statement has confirmed.

Expected devo boost in Autumn Statement


Seven counties are expected to be among a swathe of non-mayoral devolution deals being lined up by the Government.

Economic pessimism a ‘damning indictment’ of levelling up


Half of people think Conservative policies would have a negative impact on their local economy over the next five years, a think-tank has found.

EXCLUSIVE: Oflog pushes ahead with early warning system


Senior Oflog officials are pressing ahead with their plans to create an early warning system for councils in trouble despite continuing LGA resistance.

Current climate making it ‘impossible’ for councils to carry on


Soaring demand, rising pay bills and inflationary costs are making it ‘virtually impossible’ to keep councils going, a senior chief executive has said.

Job cuts 'inevitable' at Brum


Birmingham City Council is poised to reveal a worse-than-expected financial position as it embarks on a savings drive and ‘inevitable’ job cuts, The MJ has learned.

Sunak appoints new local government minister


Simon Hoare was appointed Minister for Local Government amid Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle yesterday.

New health and social care secretary announced


Victoria Atkins has been appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care amid Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.

Housing minister among casualties of Sunak reshuffle


The UK will have its 16th housing minister in 12 years after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s sweeping reshuffle affected the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Land value tax could redistribute billions


A plan to reform business rates could lead to billions of pounds being redistributed from high land value areas to other parts of the country.

Brum commissioners warn council will need further help to agree lawful budget


Commissioners at Birmingham City Council have warned it will struggle to agree a lawful budget next year without further help.

Emergency summit held amid temporary accommodation warnings


More than 150 councils this week attended an emergency summit as the cost of temporary accommodation to local authorities increases rapidly.

Council websites referred to equality watchdogs


Some 56 local government websites have been referred to equality watchdogs in the last year.

Home Office 'failing to engage' councils


The Home Office is ‘failing to engage meaningfully with local authorities’ on asylum, according to a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report published today.

EXCLUSIVE: Home Office accused of misleading council over asylum plans


The Home Office faces accusations in the High Court it misled a council over controversial plans for an asylum centre at a former military base.

Child abuse inquiry chair criticises Government response


The chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has warned ministers’ response to her recommendations has been ‘weak’.

Croydon improvement panel details exit strategy


Croydon LBC’s Government-appointed improvement panel has outlined a timetable for withdrawing from the authority amid ‘strong progress’ in fixing its finances.

Councils 'vital' to social prescribing success


Children’s charity Barnardo’s has said local authorities are ‘vital’ to the success of social prescribing as it called for a national strategy.

LGA claims ‘so much more could have been done’ in pandemic


Councils were held back from effectively tackling the challenges of the pandemic by central Government, it has been claimed.

EXCLUSIVE: Council warning over asylum communication


‘Limited’ Home Office communication over asylum – including poor data sharing - continues to stymie efforts to resolve accommodation problems, councils warn.

Council to limit non-essential spending amid s114 threat


Windsor & Maidenhead BC is to limit all non-essential spending as it raised the risk of a section 114.

Screeching U-turn on waste proposals


The Government has claimed it is scrapping its ‘top-down approach’ on recycling while still ensuring ‘all homes in England recycle the same materials’.

Bentley insists level two devolution 'best option' for county


Essex CC’s Conservative leader Kevin Bentley has insisted that a level two devolution deal is the ‘best option’ for the county.

Cash injection for Kent as councils drag feet on National Transfer Scheme


Government has given Kent £10m for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children amid concerns other councils have been slow to support the National Transfer Scheme.

Spelthorne in local plan stand-off with ministers


Spelthorne BC has stepped back from withdrawing its local plan after the housing minister ordered councillors to avoid the move.

Brum braced for Government intervention


Birmingham City Council is braced for a wide-ranging Government intervention to help rescue the authority’s bleak finances, and improve political and officer leadership.

'Clarity' promised on waste reforms


More certainty on the Government’s waste reform programme has been promised after mandarins were taken to task over delays.

Union vows to oppose controversial crackdown


Local government’s largest trade union has warned any attempt to impose a controversial crackdown will be met with strong opposition.

EXCLUSIVE: Housing pressures may push councils into effective bankruptcy


Rising housing pressures will force some councils to effectively declare bankruptcy, a local authority chief executive with more than 40 years of experience in the sector has warned.

EXCLUSIVE: Government rejects sector's Oflog concerns


The Government has rejected council concerns about key Oflog metrics that have been labelled ‘misleading and meaningless’.

Early intervention drive amid social housing repossessions


Councils with some of the highest relative rates of social landlord repossessions have described their early intervention efforts after new data was published.

Nine councils in section 114 warning


Nine councils within the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities (Sigoma) have warned they could issue a section 114 notice by 2025.

Fresh calls to raise local housing allowance


Calls have been made for ministers to increase local housing allowance (LHA) after research revealed 85% of English councils are facing a rise in homelessness.

Local government funding system has 'broken down'


The funding system for local government has ‘broken down’ and what councils currently receive from Whitehall and council tax barely reflects need, a think-tank has warned.

Health backing for police withdrawal delay


Senior healthcare figures have backed councils’ demand to delay police withdrawal from non-urgent mental health callouts.

Fresh LGA drive to influence MPs over skills


The Local Government Association has proposed to establish a skills and employment working group as it seeks to influence MPs ahead of the election.

Government rejects unitaries' devo bid for Solent


Ministers have rejected a devolution bid by three south coast unitaries after the trio turned down the chance to join neighbouring Hampshire’s offer.

Warning Birmingham equal pay bill could rise further


Birmingham City Council’s mammoth equal pay bill could rise further if it fails to meet a tight deadline to fix the issue.

Nutrient neutrality row goes to No10


Council leaders have used a Downing Street summit to urge No10 to break the deadlock in a dispute over nutrient neutrality.

First asylum barge arrives


A controversial barge for 500 asylum seekers today arrived at its mooring off the Dorset coast.

Haldane: Levelling up a 'mixed bag'


Most people have yet to see the fruits of levelling up, according to a key Government adviser.

Dismay at 'top-down diktat' approach to asylum


Councils and MPs this week expressed dismay at the Home Office’s ‘top-down diktat’ plan to double asylum seeker numbers at many hotels.

Downing Street to wade into nutrient neutrality row


No10 is expected to wade into the row between councils and conservation agency Natural England, The MJ understands.

Pandemic planning 'insufficient,' says public health chief


The Government’s lack of planning and top-down approach hindered directors of public health during the pandemic, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has heard.

Tributes to 'rare gem' Lord Kerslake


Figures across local and national government have paid tribute to ‘champion of local democracy’ Lord Bob Kerslake.

Hancock: Whitehall oversight of care was terrible


Whitehall oversight of adult social care before Covid-19 was ‘terrible’ and officials had no understanding of whether councils could cope, Matt Hancock admits.

'No progress' on devolution to London


The capital appears to have ‘taken a step backwards’ on devolution, a former chair of London Councils has said.

Councils call for more radical thinking on short-term lets


Whitehall proposals to regulate short-term holiday lets fail to deliver what is needed to tackle housing shortages and ministers should think ‘more radically,’ councils have said.

Progress on devolution 'too slow' - LGA vice-president


A Local Government Association vice-president has expressed ‘serious concerns about the Government’s increasing desire to centralise local service delivery across England out of Whitehall’.

Asylum issues damaging Home Office relations with councils


The Home Office is ‘failing to work effectively with local authorities’ in clearing its asylum backlog, the National Audit Office (NAO) has concluded.

Poor pandemic planning criticised


Public health directors have criticised the Government’s Covid-19 preparedness – warning Whitehall must utilise council expertise to avoid repeat.

Long-term solution sought to drainage board pressure


Councils are seeking a ‘long-term solution’ as internal drainage boards (IDB) warn increasing energy costs will pile further pressure on council budgets.

Fire up Northern Powerhouse 2.0, urges Osborne


Former chancellor George Osborne has urged the Government to ‘fire up Northern Powerhouse 2.0’ as he backed more devolution for the North.

'Devastating implications' warning over data threat


A Government threat to suspend council access to DWP data will have ‘devastating implications’ if Whitehall follows through, an expert has warned.

Vulnerable youngsters failed by care system


‘Vulnerable young people are being failed’ by the children’s social care system, a former education secretary has warned.

EXCLUSIVE: Woking financial woes ‘like Thurrock on speed’


A damning report into Woking BC’s finances has been described as making the borough look ‘like Thurrock on speed’.

Ministers promise CSA compensation scheme


Ministers have promised a compensation scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) including those abused in council care.

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