Local Government Association’s annual conference: takeaways for suppliers
We recently attended the Local Government Association’s annual conference. Here's the insights we gained from the session!
Last week, on the 6th of July, the Local Government Association’s Annual Conference 2021 took place to explore the latest issues in local government and hear from leading central and local government politicians. The conference focused on economic recovery, climate change, public health, supporting children and young people, funding, mental health, building safety, planning reform, equalities, and devolution.
Opening the conference, was a speech by Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP. Jenrick’s speech set out the challenges faced by the local government and emphasised local government’s central position when it comes to levelling up. Although the speech was made for a local government audience, we’ve picked out the highlights for public sector suppliers, or potential suppliers.
Build Back Better
“We can and must build back better.”
Jenrick states that the pandemic has given local government, and arguably the public sector in its entirety, a “historic opportunity” to confront confronting the long-standing issues that have held us back.
What does this mean going forward? It means embracing new ways of working through technology and innovation and focusing our efforts to level up opportunity and prosperity across the whole country. As a result, this will equate to:
- Better jobs.
- Better infrastructure.
- Better access to skills and training.
- More, greener homes.
- Reinvigorated towns and cities.
For the private sector suppliers wishing to supply to local government, this will mean paying close attention to their social value. We recommend that all potential suppliers take a read of Procurement Policy Note 06/20 – taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts published last September.
Levelling up / regeneration
“We want every local council to produce a ten, or twenty-year plan for their town…”
As part of the levelling up agenda for local government, Jenrick and his department created the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund. This fund will invest in the next generation of roads, railways, theatres, galleries and digital technology.
For an example, Jenrick notes a recent visit to Doncaster, almost £25 million has been awarded through the Towns Fund, where it is being used to upgrade its Station Gateway and create greener transport options, which subsequently has increased footfall.
Noting the importance of local government, Jenrick states “It is councils who put the bids together, making far-reaching decisions, and work with central government to craft projects.” It is suggested that every local council should produce a ten to twenty-year plan for their town. This in turn will allow government to work with local council’s using a ‘place-based’ approach.
Jenrick states that a using a ‘place-based’ approach will produce “greatest results” for local government and will shift the autonomy for councils “to lead that plan for the future of your area.”
What does this mean for public sector suppliers? Firstly, it means that they should understand the community where their service will be delivered to best understand their challenges and how your service will be effective. Secondly, we recommend that suppliers keep a beady eye out for the future publication of the Levelling Up White Paper later in the year. The paper is set to detail how to proceed towards devolution and localism.
Sector innovation / Net Zero
“The UK is the first major economy in the world to pass a net zero emissions target into law.”
Jenrick applauded the UK for being the first major economy in the world to pass a net zero emissions target into law, noting that “this is a moment of renewal for local government as it is for our country.” An apt moment, considering that the UK hosts COP26 this year.
Highlighting the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, Jenrick claimed that the pandemic has not impeded the Government’s determination to protect our environment and tackle climate change.
For example, the Future Homes Standard will help by ensuring that, from 2025, all new homes will be expected to have at least 75% lower carbon emissions and be zero carbon ready without the need for expensive retrofitting.
For public sector suppliers, this means being aware of related policies, for example the Procurement Policy Note 06/21: Taking account of Carbon Reduction Plans in the procurement of major government contracts which was published in June of this year.
Take a read of the full speech from the Local Government Association’s annual conference here!