LGIU: a year in review

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Delivering ideas, resources and connections for a stronger local government

2023 was the LGIU’s 40th anniversary. That’s four decades of working with local government, championing its vital role in our communities and supporting councillors and staff teams.

This history is important – of course it is – we are proud of our origins, proud that local authorities created us as a resource and a voice for the sector. But for us, 2023 has been all about the future. The future of democratically elected local government everywhere is at the heart of our new manifesto LGIU@40: For the future of local government.

We exist to make local democracy around the world collectively stronger through shared ideas, resources and connections, delivering member services to councils across the UK, Ireland and Australia and providing a Global Local subscription for individuals in other countries. We do this so local government is empowered to tackle the biggest challenges we’re all facing today and in the future.

Throughout the year, we have delivered hundreds of briefings, training sessions, workshops and more to our members. And our collective voice has grown stronger as major research programmes from the Local Democracy Research Centre have taken centre stage.

Supporting local government throughout 2023

We support the people who work in local government and our elected representatives with the right resources on tap whenever they need them, saving them valuable time and saving councils money.

“There is a wealth of accessible and interesting information which is very useful in my day-to-day work.”

Your LGIU member resources cover the myriad of local government topics. Members tell us they reach for our in-depth policy briefings, our legislation guides and our subject round-ups to help them with their jobs because they are “extremely informative and easy to engage with.” This year, we have made it even easier to use your resources, organising much of our briefing output into single-theme collections that provide an easy-to-navigate narrative arc through changes in legislation and examples of good practice on the ground.

“[LGIU gives me] snapshots of the headlines every day, with opportunity to read deeper if the topic is relevant for my projects.”

We’ve got your back with almost 300 new items this year alone and an encyclopedic back catalogue of resources. And of course, there’s Daily News – the top local government news stories delivered to you at 6am every morning.

“Daily news is a really good way to keep up with the main things going on in just a few minutes a day, really appreciate this!”

Case studies are about sharing learning and innovation from the international local government community. We provided you with more than 150 this year, and you tell us that they help you “identify good practice and make contact with other authorities if necessary”.

Our briefings, guides and news services address the circumstances of our member countries. We also deliver inspiration, ideas and innovative solutions from local government in many more countries. We believe we achieve better and quicker results when we are connected: this year, your Global Local newsletter has brought a world of local government to your inbox 52 weeks a year.

“I can keep up to date with local government […] activities both nationally and internationally.”

LGIU Training worked with more than 1,250 councillors and local government staff this year on sessions ranging from strategic thinking, to scrutiny skills to equality and diversity training.

“The training is very hands-on and filled with large amounts of rich information.”

LGIU Events connected local government colleagues with new ideas, different perspectives and each other. Ask the Expert sessions allowed members to discuss all our major research outputs with the Local Democracy Research Centre team. From research into the crucial monitoring officer role, to work on community engagement and the net zero agenda, to a unique exploration of international local government funding systems, the input and collaboration that we have received from our members has been immensely valuable. Global Local Panel events have brought senior practitioners from the UK, Ireland, Australia and elsewhere together to share insights and experience on subjects that included the cost of living crisis and council decision-making processes.

“The pressure and intensity of the day job mean horizon-scanning can be difficult. LGIU helps me to fill that gap.”

And of course, as we do every year, we celebrated councillors – the lifeblood of our local democracy. The 14th annual LGIU & CCLA Cllr Awards were the best yet. With several hundred nominations and five fantastic winners, these awards are one of the highlights of the LGIU year. We are proud to celebrate the vital and often unacknowledged work of local elected representatives.

*All quotes come from the LGIU’s 2023 annual survey.

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The Local Democracy Research Centre

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The LDRC has delivered important and influential research projects for local government this year. The themes of our manifesto – finance, trust and participation – and our permanent focus on supporting local government have informed all of our original research this year and will continue to as we move into 2024. The full LDRC year in review is here, and highlights include:

  • A unique and innovative finance project in partnership with the University of Northumbria investigating how local government is funded across the world. This ongoing and influential project is finding a wide sector audience and has formed the basis of briefings to senior officials from DLUHC.
  • Our first major project on participation this year was our research, funded by the JRSST-Charitable Trust, into the new voter identification requirements introduced across the UK this year.
  • In partnership with the Centre for Care we explored the proposal to create a National Care Service in Scotland and what it would mean for social care and the relationship between central and local government in Scotland.

 

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Empowering local government to tackle the biggest challenges we’re all facing, today and in the future

The culmination of our anniversary year was the publication of LGIU@40: For the Future of Local Government. This call for urgent reform for the sector was developed through hundreds of hours of discussion and debate with our members. And many local government leaders were at the linked Research Symposium that launched the manifesto. Thank you for your insights, expertise and time, which have added power and nuance as we call for immediate action from central government. We will continue to press for these reforms and a new central-local covenant. And our 2024 research programme will take forward the key themes identified in the manifesto.

Our work this year supporting LGIU@40 has been international in scope, and important universal themes have emerged. Over the last three months, we have drawn together international lessons across our three main lines of enquiry:

Participation   |   Trust   |   Finance

For the future of local government

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The absolute necessity of a thriving local government sector for citizens, communities and the whole country has never been clearer and this conviction propels the LGIU forward. The new year will see no let up in the work of the LGIU, supporting councillors and staff with unrivalled resources, a research programme for and with our members that builds on the priorities that emerged through our LGIU@40 campaign and driving home the case for the urgent reforms set out in our manifesto. Because the future of local government is really about all our futures.

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