MJ Article – the economic value of social care

December 20th, 2018

New Chair of ACCE Anthony May writes for the Municipal Journal (MJ) on the economic value of social care services ahead of the publication of the social care green paper early next year.

You can read the full piece here.

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New chairman of the Association of County Chief Executives announced

November 20th, 2018

The new chairman of the Association of County Chief Executives (ACCE) has said his main priorities will be securing additional resource for county authorities, and promoting those councils in regional growth.

Nottinghamshire County Council chief executive Anthony May, has been announced as the new chairman of the ACCE, replacing Debbie Ward who is stepping down from the role after announcing she will leave Dorset County Council ahead of the formation of a new authority in the county.

The severe financial challenges facing counties have been in the national spotlight over recent months, with the sector’s advocacy delivering almost £1bn of additional revenue resources in last month’s budget. Mr May said he wants to work collaboratively across the sector to secure additional resource for councils.

Mr May said:

Our first priority must be to make a powerful case for long-term sustainable funding. The recent funding announced in the budget is welcome, but there remains huge uncertainty beyond 2021. Alongside this, the government’s fair funding review is gathering pace and it is essential that this allocates resources according today’s needs and addresses historic inequalities.

“Counties and metropolitan boroughs face huge demand-led pressures in adult’s and children’s social care. I want to work collaboratively across the entire sector, to gather the evidence needed to convince government of the need to invest in local government in the Spending Review.

Mr May also set out that ACCE would be advocating for an increased role for counties in regional growth, promoting the ‘strategic authority’ function of counties. While the government’s common devolution framework has been stalled in Whitehall, upper-tier councils in the East Midlands are forging ahead with their idea for a regional ‘strategic alliance’, while several councils – including his own – are pursing structural reform.

He added:

The forthcoming devolution framework and wider reforms to planning, housing and economic development should better recognise the strategic role of counties. As chair of the Midlands Engine Operating Board I know how imperative upper-tier authorities, working with their partners, can be in driving regional growth and investment at scale. County areas are major economic powerhouses, producing 41% of England’s GVA and over half of our nation’s jobs. ACCE will make the case for government to reboot the devolution agenda in shire counties.

 “Clearly, the recent decision in Buckinghamshire could potentially increase interest in structural reform. My own council has made its decision to start a local discussion over reform, while other counties may seek another route. It crucial that the Government now provides the sector with a clear framework and criteria for reform.”

Mr May also paid tribute to the outgoing chairwoman of ACCE, Debbie Ward.

He added:

“I would like to thank Debbie for her leadership of ACCE. She leaves a lasting legacy both locally in Dorset and nationally, transforming the county council during an extremely challenging time for local government and selflessly helping to pioneer the first local government reorganisation in almost a decade.

“ACCE’s sector voice has grown over the past 12 months under her leadership and I want to pick up where she left off.”

Notes to editor

  • The Association of County Chief Executives (ACCE) brings together the Chief Executives of over 30 large English upper tier and unitary authorities. Members of ACCE work to identify common challenges, commission research and share solutions, and discuss key issues with senior Whitehall Civil Servants.

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County chief executives label traffic light ratings proposals for councils a ‘blunt instrument’

July 19th, 2018

County chief executives have warned that a proposed ‘traffic light’ ranking of councils’ financial resilience will be a ‘blunt instrument’ – and they say they want to work with the organisation to develop the approach.

Responding to the launch of the Chartered Institute Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) consultation on the ‘traffic light’ financial reliance plans the Association of County Chief Executives (ACCE) say whilst new measures are needed to support financial resilience, these ‘well intended’ proposals risk over-simplifying complex issues and offer no genuine solutions to councils who could be deemed ‘failing’ by the index’s standards.

The CIPFA proposals will provide an assessment of each councils’ financial health, based on a financial resilience index, giving each council an amber, green or red ‘traffic light’ assessment.

The ACCE warns that the index will be a ‘blunt instrument’ that fails to genuinely help local authorities that may be struggling financially and will not aid the sector in tackling the main issue of insufficient funding – both in the short and long term – for councils.

The grouping of county chief executives argue that as financial resilience can be calculated in a number of different ways, using a variety of different indicators, it may be difficult to get a wholly accurate picture on how well a local authority is performing. Chief executives argue it will not take into consideration other factors, such as organisational culture, local democratic accountability, the historical approach of a place and the importance and dependency of working with partners in a locality.

Both ACCE and CCN follow on from the Local Government Association (LGA) in voicing concerns over the proposals.

Instead, county leaders and chief executives say they want to work with CIPFA to create an approach that supports learning, support and innovation across the sector, rather than defensiveness judgments the proposed model could inevitably create. They also believe that improving existing systems, such as the LGA’s peer reviews, could genuinely offer help to struggling local authorities.

ACCE will outline its full views in its consultation response during August.

Richard Flinton, ACCE lead advisor for local government finance, and chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, said:

“Councils’ future financial stability has been a recurring theme in local government this year, and these well-meaning proposals are unsurprising in the current climate.

“However, we believe they will be a blunt instrument, which over-simplifies complex issues and offers no genuine solutions to councils’ financial issues.

“Naming and shaming local authorities, based on a particular dataset, could be counter-productive in the long-term when we should be looking at how, and where extra support to specific local authorities can be provided.

“It’s no bad thing to have these type of discussions, and the ACCE is open to new measures to help improve financial resilience, but we believe alternative proposals could be far more effective.

“We look forward to engaging CIPFA during the consultation period on their proposal”

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ACCE Spring Seminar: MJ Feature ‘A Time for Leadership & Reflection’

May 5th, 2018

Ahead of this year’s ACCE Spring Seminar, the Municipal Journal (MJ) (3rd May 2018) included a two-age feature on ‘A time for leadership and reflection’, outlining three articles by ACCE Lead Advisors:

Debbie Ward, Chair of ACCE, outlined the positive outlook for counties and the opportunities for councils in delivering placed-based public service reform, economic growth and the role of counties in housing.

Becky Shaw, Lead Advisor for Leadership, wrote on leadership in difficult times.

John Coughlan, Lead Advisor for Children & Education, wrote on why the size matters in turning around the performance of children’s services.

You can read the full feature here.

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ACCE Lead Advisor: The funding system must prevent unsustainable funding and misaligned incentives

April 20th, 2018

Secretary of ACCE & Lead Finance Advisor, Richard Flinto0n, writes for the Municipal Journal (MJ) on the Association’s response to the fair funding review. He outlines that ACCE made the case for a sustainable settlement for all councils, but also the need for a fairer funding settlement for counties.

You can read the full piece here.

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ACCE Consultation Response – Fair Funding Review

March 12th, 2018

In response to the Fair Funding Review; measuring relative needs consultation, ACCE has written to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. The response endorses the technical response of the CCN and SCT, but specifically raises a number additional overarching points which we believe are crucial to delivery of the fair funding review. This includes funding shortfalls and business rates retention, while also welcoming the direction set out in the consultation and the proposals outlined.

You can read the full letter here ACCE – Response to the Fair Funding Review Consultation

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Coalition of national organisations warn government that planning reforms do not go far enough

March 5th, 2018

A coalition of national organisations have called on the Housing Secretary to strengthen planning reforms to ensure that local areas have the infrastructure to unlock new housing and to support sustainable development.

The Association of County Chief Executives (ACCE), County Councils Network (CCN) the Home Builders Federation (HBF), the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), and the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning, and Transport (ADEPT), have written to Sajid Javid to say that his government’s proposed Statement of Common Ground (SoCG) is a ‘real opportunity’ to ensure that infrastructure matches housing development in England’s 27 shire counties, to foster job creation and growth.

Read the full letter Joint letter on Statement of Common Ground 28.02.18.

It comes as the Prime Minister is to announce a set of new housebuilding reforms today (Monday, March 5) under the National Planning Policy Framework.

However, the coalition of organisations argue that another proposed government reform, the draft SoCG is a ‘toothless instrument’ in its current guise and must be strengthened to include a more prominent and formalised role for the county council. This could, in effect, re-write strategic planning back into the system after these type of larger-scale planning strategies were abolished under the Coalition, instead placing much looser requirements for councils to collaborate over planning and infrastructure.

 

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Write strategic planning back into the system argues ACCE Lead Advisor

February 20th, 2018

In this week Municipal Journal (MJ) ACCE Lead Advisor for Housing, Planning & Infrastructure, John Wood, writes that housing and planning is a major priority for county chief executives and argues for a stronger role for counties in strategic planning.

You can read the full piece here.

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LGC Interview with ACCE Chair

February 14th, 2018

The Local Government Chronicle recently interviewed the Chair of ACCE, Debbie Ward on the priorities of county chief executives over the coming period and recent national developments in local government.

The full interview can be read here

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Chair writes on the challenges facing counties and the renewal of ACCE

December 12th, 2017

Chair of ACCE, Debbie Ward, writes for the Municipal Journal (MJ) on the uncertainty surrounding local government policy and how over the coming year ACCE will renew its the focus as an association to influence the direction of the sector and minimise the unintended consequences of Government policy.

You can read the full piece here.

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