Bundle: Summer reading list


To keep readers busy over their ‘staycation’ summers, we have collated a new reading (and listening) list of our favourite LGIU content which includes new work as well as pieces from our archives. Topics covered range from housing to waste management, climate change to the economy, elections to healthy eating, and of course – unavoidably – Covid-19. Also included are more lighthearted think pieces and blogs to get you into the summer holiday mood!

This bundle coincides with the launch of LGIU’s new local government book club to discuss the non-fiction books making waves and how they affect the sector. The first meeting will take place on 27 August where we will read Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men by Caroline Criado Perez.


Home Sweet Home Working

Thousands of local government staff are working from home, but can you achieve the same results in splendid isolation? Neil Merrick, a freelance writer and LGIU associate, takes a light-hearted look at making the home your office in this blog from March.

We’re all in the same storm, but not in the same boat: the long-lasting health equity impacts of Covid-19

Recent research, including the latest Public Health England report, shows that more deprived communities face additional hazards that put them at risk of catching the virus or dying from the effects of the pandemic. In this briefing, we offer policy recommendations for local governments and communities to come out of Covid-19 healthier and fairer.

The role of active travel in our recovery from Covid-19

Following unprecedented levels of walking and cycling in the last couple of months, attention is now turning to the important role that active travel will play as the lockdown is eased but there is a continued need to avoid public transport wherever possible. Read the briefing here.

Black Lives Matter: how councils can support racial justice during a global pandemic

In the wake of the recent tragedy of George Floyd’s murder, it is difficult to know how to help, both as individuals and as communities, in a time of so much anger and pain. In this blog, Lucy Zhu writes on how local authorities can support racial justice now and going forward.

LGIU Fortnightly 22 May: Building back better

How is our thinking changing and our focus shifting as we move along the pandemic curve? We hear from Cllr Abi Brown, the Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council about the importance of thinking space and the challenges of response and recovery. We also hear from a husband and wife who lived through the ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. They tell us what it felt like to emerge from an epidemic and provide insight into whether it’s possible to return to a new normal that builds on the lessons we’ve learned in the pandemic. Listen here.

An overview of Germany’s response to Covid-19

In this blog, Patrick Jowett analyses Germany’s relative success in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak in addition to considering the financial impacts of the crisis.

Urban density and pandemics: lessons from global Covid-19 experiences

What is the relationship between urban density to the transmission of Covid-19? In this briefing, we look at the experience in South Africa and various global cities, how the link can be over-simplified, and at how cities reduced transmissions and flattened the curve in areas of high density.

The gender effect: Covid-19 and the impact on women

Although everyone is affected by Covid-19, women’s experiences of the pandemic and lockdown can be significantly different to men’s. Policymakers at national and local levels need to listen to women and ensure that policies meet their specific challenges, or the pandemic may exacerbate existing gender inequalities. Read the briefing here.

Covid-19: Greece is the word, is it a miracle?

Despite difficulties in conducting comparative analyses between governments’ Covid-19 responses, it has been widely agreed that the Greek Government has been successful in coping with the pandemic and this blog will discuss what was done to allow for the end of lockdown on 4 May. This blog is particularly relevant following Greece’s recent announcement that they are now in a second wave.


Prospects for Devolution in the 2020s?

Drawing from his recent PhD research with LGIU and Queen Mary, University of London, in this long read Andrew Walker investigates the relationship between central and local government.

Unfinished business

Collected here are ten ideas from the last decade that we think are unfinished business. At LGIU we’ve been thinking, writing, talking and acting with our members on all these issues and more for the last ten years (and the 25 years before that).

Democracy Deferred? To elect or not to elect in the time of Covid-19

The May 2020 elections were postponed in the UK, but other polls in other places have carried on. We cannot afford to postpone democracy forever, what should an election look like in the time of coronavirus? Read more here.

Post-Covid Councils

This framework is intended to help local authorities ask a set of structured questions about how we emerge from the immediate crisis, placing planning processes within an overall context so we might begin to imagine the shape of local government post-Covid.

Personal safety for councillors

Our personal safety is something many of us take for granted. This short, members-only guide offers some guidance on assessing risk and adopting strategies and behaviours that will minimise any potential hazards you might identify as part of your councillor role.

LGIU MJ State of Local Government Finance Survey 2020

LGIU and The MJ have run the State of Local Government Finance Survey every January since 2012 to coincide with councils setting their annual budgets. The results give a snapshot of the key pressures facing councils and the impact of ongoing financial uncertainty on their communities.


Beyond befriending: Cross-sectoral approaches to tackling social isolation

Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to develop a national strategy to tackle social isolation. This 2019 briefing highlights projects and activities from across the UK with a primary or secondary aim of tackling social isolation.

Veg out: why 5 A Day hasn’t worked

This 2019 briefing looks at the reasons the 5 A Day campaign has failed to improve people’s eating habits, and how barriers to change could be removed. Read it here.

How can we make urban planning work for women?

This briefing marks International Women’s Day 2020 and outlines why urban planning and governance requires gender sensitivity if it is to be sustainable, equitable, and effective.

Game of drones: will councils need air traffic control departments in the future?

As drones move from disruption to disruptive technology, how can councils gain from unmanned aircraft? What savings can they make? What steps do they need to take to get their implementation right whilst maintaining public confidence and safety? And will they need to employ air traffic controllers? Read the briefing here.

Doughnut Economics: a lifebelt for the planet?

This briefing examines the concept of ‘Doughnut Economics’ as an increasingly popular model around which to structure change at a local level. For local government, this model offers a guide to policymaking that re-centres value by setting out the social and ecological parameters for decision-making while fostering collaboration and inter-departmental working.

Challenge Accepted: how to meet the housing needs of the disabled and elderly

Evidence suggests that disabled people can face discrimination when trying to access suitable housing. Does the UK have the opportunity to lead from the front for disabled people, now that the Government’s design guidance has been published? Read this pre-pandemic briefing here.

What lessons can local government learn from Canada’s community-driven immigration programmes?

In recent years, Canada has developed an immigration policy seeing millions arrive, including in rural locations. This is the work of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), a partnership and program between federal and local government incentivising more remote and isolated communities to accept migrants. This briefing outlines the role of Canadian municipalities in immigration and integration.

Swift Read: Talk of the Town

In an exploration of the concept of place-based storytelling in the UK, the Carnegie UK Trust supported individuals from Scarborough and Treorchy to tell the story of their town and found that towns require treasure, time, trust, and thought to develop their story. Read the briefing here.

The new cold war: why everyone wants a piece of the Arctic

This briefing offers a beginner’s guide to Arctic matters and the interests of the key states and prospective players in the region. It surveys the new opportunities created by the retreating ice, and the new dangers these pose to the sustainability of the Arctic and its population. It also considers the governance of the region: how it works at present and why it might need to change in future.

Utilising local authority powers to address climate change and build more resilient communities

This briefing explores climate change predictions for the UK, questioning the implications change will have on both people and places, before considering the benefits of utilising local-authority-run services in order to address this crisis and build more resilient communities.

The changing world of work: future work

Technology is transforming our lives. Work is changing and future livelihoods are at stake. With in-work poverty and insecurity rising, and average pay still recovering to pre-crisis levels, ‘good work’ and productivity are high on the political agenda in the UK. What will future work look like? This briefing was published in February 2020, pre-lockdown.

Dog fouling – a blight on the pavement

Dog mess is one of the most common causes of complaints to local councils. What innovative solutions are being used by councils, both within and outwith the UK? This 2018 Swift Read outlines ways of tackling dog fouling using case studies and examples of the different schemes used by local authorities.

Blogs and podcasts

Are dead men dominating policy making?

In this blog, James Mitchell, Professor of Public Policy at Edinburgh University, writes on the difficulties of creating effective policy for current times in the face of historical policies and spending commitments, where the unpopularity of reversing decisions creates inertia in policymaking.

Viewpoint: Norwich’s striking new council homes

Councillor Gail Harris is Norwich City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member with responsibility for social housing. Here she explains the story behind the council’s celebrated new Goldsmith Street development, the first council homes to be nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize. This blog was first published in August 2019.

Be the talk of the town (hall)

In his January 2019 column for The Municipal Journal, Jonathan Carr-West stresses the importance of sharing stories of local authority success and discusses the innovative steps councils have taken when faced with government cuts.

Viewpoint: How data on bin collections helped improve health for people in Chorley

Dr Shashidhar Khandavalli has been a GP partner at The Chorley Surgery, Chorley, since 2008 and is now also Clinical Director for Chorley Central Primary Care Network. He tells us how he and colleagues – from across the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System – linked people with frailty to data on people needing assisted bin collections.

Scotland’s 20p recycling scheme will change the recycling habits of a nation

This blog from Iain Gulland of Zero Waste Scotland looks at Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme and discusses how it is a blueprint for a world-leading recycling system for drinks cans and bottles.

LGiU Fortnightly 30th August – Community action…in action

A thriving community is what everyone in local government aspires to create and that’s exactly what Ingrid found in 2019 when she visited the beautiful Welsh town of Llandrindod Wells. Hear about the community orchard run by Transition Llandrindod, the life of a Town Crier, the Victorian Festival and how to run a community cafe.

Viewpoint: Beyond the numbers – the human cost of council cuts

In this 2018 blog, Nona Buckley-Irvine discusses research from UNISON which draws out what council cuts mean to those who access services and the workers who are delivering them.

Is there a crisis in representative democracy?

Jonathan Carr-West’s Municipal Journal column from October 2018 rings all the more true today as he writes about dwindling public trust in democracy and politics. Read the blog here.

Arus Mhuire Rightsizing Housing Project

Find out more about Cork City Council’s award-winning Arus Mhuire Rightsizing Project, which facilitates downsizing from larger homes to free up social and private housing.