Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

LGA Lib Dems: Lead Member Updates

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Sunday, 2nd February, 2014

The LGA Lib Dems support Liberal Democrat council groups across England & Wales The LGA Lib Dems support Liberal Democrat council groups across England & Wales

This week’s policy updates from our Lead Members on LGA policy boards includes news and information from:

  • Workforce, and
  • Community Well Being

Regular updates on the work of the LGA Lib Dems on policy boards will be published on the ALDC website and feedback on any of the matters raised is encouraged.

Workforce

Lead Member – Cllr Claire Hudson

It is quite difficult to write a full report on the Workforce board as the vast majority of the papers issued to us are confidential! The Workforce board is responsible for Local Government Association activity in the areas of pay and workforce strategies. The board also has responsibility for appointing members to relevant employers’ sides of national negotiating bodies.

Local Government Pay Negotiations

The main issue on for me as the Lib Dem lead on the Workforce Board has been the local government pay negotiations as I’m also the Lib Dem representative on that body. In November I attended my first NJC Executive to receive the union pay claim, which is: “A minimum increase of £1 an hour on scale point 5 to achieve the Living Wage and the same flat rate increase on all other scale points”. This pay claim fits very nicely in a Living Wage campaign that was launched by the unions, supported by Labour, at the same time.

Living Wage

The LGA has already said that the Living Wage is a matter for individual councils to make a decision on. Quite a number of the smaller councils already do pay the Living Wage to their staff, and others are moving towards it. In order to become accredited as a Living Wage council, you not only need to pay the Living Wage to your own employees, but also sign up to ensure that people employed as a result of contracting out services are also paid it. Approximately 70 councils have signed up to pay the Living Wage to their employees, but only 22 so far have full accreditation. You can find out more about the Living Wage foundation here: http://www.livingwage.org.uk/home. As this whole area is likely to be a big issue in the next General Election, I think it is one that we as Lib Dems need to think carefully about.

In fact, I think the Lib Dems need to have a very clear view on what is the minimum amount people should be paid for working. The Chancellor has said he favours an increase of the minimum wage to £7; I have no doubt that many Lib Dems will favour the arguments for the Living Wage. Some Lib Dem Councils – including Hinckley and Bosworth and Cambridge – pay the living wage to their staff. If we think the Living Wage is the correct minimum amount to pay people then we should commit in our manifesto to setting the minimum wage at that amount.

However, it is important that those of us in local government are aware of the impact on budgets that anything more than a 2% increase in the minimum wage will have.

Pay Claim

Back on the pay claim, the Employers Side are consulting the Regional Employers at meetings up until the end of January, after which point there will be further meeting with the unions. In order to ensure I’m fully informed, the LGA LD office asked all Lib Dem councillors their view on the living wage campaign and pay issues in general. The responses were very helpful and a further e-mail to Lib Dem council leaders is being circulated asking for more information.

Community Well Being

Lead Member – Cllr Katie Hall

Better Care Fund

The biggest issue in my portfolio at the moment is the Better Care Fund, and how it will be spent to transform health and social care locally. There are clear rules around the spending of this money, and you can find more information at this link. As we get to the stage of drawing up plans I have heard of some problems where the health sector is not playing ball, and some allegations that some councils are trying to spend the money on other things. At the moment, it’s not really clear what is truth and what is fiction, so I would really welcome your feedback – also tell us where things are working well, and why! Email addresses are below.

If you are on a Health and Wellbeing Board, or a health scrutiny panel you should be seeing your draft plan. This money’s for transformation, and we welcome it, but we really need it to be used appropriately to improve health at a local level. Integration of care and health is the only game in town!

Public Health

I’m also still hearing some concerns from the Public Health field that some Councils are being “creative” in their public health spend. I think this is an area where innovation is good, but the money must be spent on real public health work. This is a very good question for scrutiny as the money was ring-fenced at the transfer. Officially I’m told by the LGA that this is not a problem but this is another area where I would really welcome your feedback. I’ll keep details confidential unless you say otherwise. We also welcome good practice examples from your authority on what work it is doing in the field of public health – email addresses below.

Lib Dem Manifesto 2015

As I am sure you are all aware, the party centrally is drawing up its manifesto. I am drawing up the submission on Wellbeing from the LGA LibDem Group. I’m particularly interested in your views on further accountability of NHS services. How far do you think we should increase the roles and responsibilities of Health and Wellbeing Boards? Should they be signing off NHS Strategic Plans? Strategic Plans for GPs? Please do get in touch.

Social Care Funding

We continue to lobby the Government for a sustainable funding settlement for social care. There’s a huge amount going on around the implementation of the Care Bill (more here – http://www.local.gov.uk/care-support-reform).

If you have a particular interest in health and wellbeing please get in touch with me (katiehall.bath@gmail.com) or Rob in the LGA LibDem office (rob.banks@local.gov.uk) letting us know your role (if any) and any particular area of knowledge or interest.

ALDC