GROUP ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Minutes from the virtual Annual General Meeting of the APPG on Local Government
Wednesday, 15th March 2022 via Zoom
- Chris Clarkson MP (2022 Group Chair) – Conservative
- Jeff Smith MP (2022 Vice Chair) – Labour
- Aaron Bell MP – Conservative
- Jack Brereton MP – Conservative
- Ben Everitt MP – Conservative
- Paul Holmes MP – Conservative
- Robin Millar MP – Conservative
- Tom Randall MP – Conservative
- Karin Smyth (Isobel Laing representing) MP – Labour
- Jonathan Carr-West, Local Government Information Unit (Group Secretariat)
- Jen Pufky, Local Government Information Unit (Group Secretariat)
- Ingrid Koehler, Local Government Information Unit (Group Secretariat)
- Simone Short, Local Government Information Unit (Group Secretariat, minutes)
The Chair welcomed attendees to the Annual General Meeting for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Local Government and verified that the meeting was quorate. The Chair thanked the Secretariat for organising the meeting and gave a brief overview to establish the purpose of the Group, which is to bring together interested members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords to discuss and find solutions to issues that are affecting local government.
Election of APPG Officers
Voting took place to elect members to officer positions for the APPG. The Chair set out the rules for the vote. Only MPs and Peers could vote and be elected to the APPG, and at least four officers are required. This includes at least two MPs, one of whom must hold the position of Chair and Registered Contact, and with one MP from the governing party, and another from the main opposition party.
Chris Clarkson MP nominated himself to be re-elected as Chair and Registered Contact, which was seconded by Robert Millar MP. No other attendees wished to put themselves forward for the position of Chair and Registered Contact. Chris Clarkson MP was duly re-elected.
Jeff Smith MP was nominated by the Chair for the position of Vice-Chair which was seconded by Aaron Bell MP. No other names were put forward for this position and he was elected as Deputy Chair.
The Chair asked if there were any further nominations. Paul Holmes MP and Jack Brereton MP put themselves forward for officer positions which were seconded by the Chair, and they were elected as Officers.
No other nominations were announced. The Secretariat registered the election results and checked that the APPG was quorate. The Chair subsequently drew the election of officers to a close.
Summary of the discussion on adult social care reform and the role of local government in the next stages of the reform journey
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit, was invited by the Chair to give a brief overview of adult social care reform and the role of local government in the next stages of the reform journey. He noted that social care remains the largest financial pressure for councils and a major policy issue. Even before the pandemic, the social care system was in crisis and this has been exacerbated by coronavirus.
He also commented on the political context around social care, as it is known that the more effective systems are the ones that are integrated with health systems, though we’re seeing that there are still some barriers to achieving effective systems. Examples of these barriers include a culture of risk aversion and a lack of capacity in local government. It is clear that integrated care systems are the right way forward, but it is necessary to examine these difficult issues and how to approach them moving forward. He proposed an immediate focus for the group on health and social care integration, particularly with the involvement of Helen Whately MP, Minister for Care, as a key speaker for future meetings, and supplemented by the Local Government Information Unit’s research on the topic.
Jonathan Carr-West shared that the Local Government Information Unit is very keen to recommence meetings in person in the coming months, in particular at the summer reception and that this summer’s event could be geared toward a celebratory focus on the progress the group has made and the hard work of the sector throughout the pandemic and recovery.
The Chair thanked Jonathan Carr-West for his words and discussed how an examination of how devolution has worked well in the past can potentially model a path forward and shed light on potential pitfalls for the future.
The Chair then opened the meeting up to all attendees for further discussion. Robin Millar MP spoke on the topic and shared that he is involved with a group examining the intersection of unions, devolution, and social care. This group is noticing a potential restructuring of government across the UK, principally in how citizens feel about central government. The group is especially noticing an interesting interaction between local government and unions.
Jonathan Carr-West pointed out that there is a difficulty that comes with devolution in that we lack a good image of what the central state will look like as power shifts down to the local level. He also highlighted the interaction between Scottish nationalism and the complex discussion to be had around devolution in England and the UK.
Robin Millar MP shared that he would be happy to facilitate a formal or informal connection between this group and his so that various perspectives could be considered. He shared his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, and welcomed any thoughts or contacts regarding the collaboration.
The Chair thanked participants for attending the AGM before closing the meeting.