We know that local councils are at the very heart of their communities; giving neighbourhoods a voice and making people more involved in the decisions that affect them.

The Local Council Award Scheme has been designed to celebrate the successes of the very best local councils, and to provide a framework to support all local councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential. The scheme offers councils the opportunity to show that they meet the standards set by the sector, assessed by their peers, and to put in place the conditions for continued improvement.

The Award Scheme provides encouragement to those councils at the beginning of their improvement journeys, as well as promoting and recognising councils that are at the cutting edge of the sector.

Click here to view a Guide to the Local Council Award Scheme 202

Local council award scheme

Why should you apply?

There are a range of reasons why a council could benefit from taking part in the award scheme. For those councils who are already confident that they perform to a high standard the scheme provides assurance to the council that it is up-to-date and progressive by the standards set by the sector. For those who wish to improve, it provides a framework to plan and make the first steps. Helping the council improve performance and confidence, with policies in place for continuous development. And for all councils winning the award should be celebration for councillors and officers, as their commitment and hard work is recognised and respected.

The award is a tool that councils can use when working with the local community or other local partners. Giving them confidence that the council is delivering to a national professional standard.

And finally, the scheme will contribute to the national reputation of local councils demonstrating achievements and a commitment to improvement.

How do you apply?

  1. The council registers its intention to apply for a specified award online here.
  2. Contact NALC at [email protected] or on 020 7637 1865.
  3. The council pays a registration fee to NALC to cover the costs of managing the national scheme, including: administration, national online resources, quality assurance and review processes.
  4. NALC provides the applicant with a template application form and the contact details of the co-ordinator of the appropriate accreditation panel.
  5. NALC provides the panel co-ordinator with information of the council’s application.
  6. When a council is ready to make its application to the accreditation panel, its clerk notifies the panel co-ordinator that the council has passed a resolution confirming that all the documentation and information is in place for a specified award and submits a completed application form with any additional documentation required.
  7. The council pays the accreditation fee which covers the costs administering the local service.
  8. The local panel co-ordinator keeps a record of all applications and monitors their progress.
  9. When the accreditation panel makes it decision it informs the council. It also completes an online form to allow NALC to update national records.

The Foundation Award

The Foundation award is for councils who want to show they meet a set of minimum standards to deliver effectively for their communities. To meet this award the council demonstrates that it has the required documentation and information in place for operating lawfully and according to standard practice. The council also has policies for training for its councillors and officers and so has the foundations for improvement and development in place. The Foundation award allows you to benchmark your performance as well as challenging you to consider your councils continuing development and improvement.

LCAS - Foundation Award

The Quality Award

The Quality Award demonstrates that a council achieves good practice in governance, community engagement and council improvement. Quality councils go above and beyond their legal obligations, leading their communities and continuously seeking opportunities to improve and develop even further. To achieve the Quality Award a council demonstrates that it meets all requirements of the Foundation Award and has additional evidence of good governance, effective community engagement and council improvement. Due to the level of this achievement, a council with a Quality Award can also be eligible to use the general power of competence.

LCAS - Quality Award

The Quality Gold Award

The Quality Gold Award demonstrates that a council is at the forefront of best practice and achieves excellence in governance, community leadership and council development. Quality Gold councils provide leadership for their communities, bring people together, have excellent business planning processes, ensuring value for money as well as constantly seeking new innovations and opportunities to improve. They highlight the very best we, as a sector, can achieve for our communities.

LCAS - Quality Gold Award

What if I was accredited under the previous Quality Council Scheme?

The free foundation year offered to Quality councils is due to expire in January 2016. To keep an unbroken accreditation history, councils need to take into consideration the following dates:

  • 1st October 2015 – the latest that councils can register with NALC, if they wish to keep an unbroken accreditation record. The registration form is the same as the one used to register for the foundation year and can be found here
  • 1st November 2015 – the latest councils can submit their completed application forms to the local panel to keep an unbroken accreditation record
  • 31st January 2015 – the latest councils will have confirmation of the outcome of their application. If councils miss these dates they can still be accredited under the Local Council Award Scheme in the future, however they will have a gap in their accreditation history.

Top tips

  • Please consider registering with NALC as soon as possible. You don’t need to have the criteria in place when you do this. It would be a big help to us and your local panels to be able to plan workloads. Once you have registered with NALC you will be sent an application form that you will need to complete and send to your local panel coordinator – another reason to register early
  • We highly recommend contacting your county association to confirm local deadlines for accreditation applications.
  • When filling out the application form make sure you provide a direct web page link or evidence for every single criteria. The panels will be busy accrediting a large number of councils towards the end of the year, so make it clear and easy for them. It would be a real shame to miss out on an award because the panel couldn’t find a document that did exist but was hard to find.
  • Read the explanation of the award criteria in the award scheme guide carefully The 12 continuous professional development points at the Foundation level are based on the guidance produced earlier this year. This can be found, alongside a template recording sheet, here under the ‘continuous professional development for clerks’ heading

    Resources for Accreditation Panels

    When you know the results of a council’s accreditation then please let us know by completing this form. You can download and use this template document to help manage the accreditation process and/or to provide feedback to the council you are accrediting. Template accreditation feedback document

    Click the link to view Councils in the Local Council Award Scheme