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More women than ever are getting involved in local councils, but more needs to be done says NALC 

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New analysis by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) on women’s representation in local government shows more women are getting involved in their community through their local (parish and town) council than in larger principal authorities.

Research by the Fawcett Society on council elections in May 2018 reveals that on the centenary year of the women’s right to vote, the proportion of women elected to principal (district, county and unitary) authorities in England now stands at 34%.

However data gathered by NALC for the very first time through its Diversity Commission – set up to undertake an assessment of the diversity of people who are local councillors and encourage more and people to become councillors – is more positive as it shows 40% of councillors in the first tier of local government are women.

Other findings from NALC’s Census Survey of around 100,000 local councillors include:

  • The average age of local councillors is 61 (compared to 60 at principal authority level according to Local Government Association’s most recent Councillor Census)

  • Just  1% of councillors are aged between 18 and 25 (with 10.2% of the UK population in this age bracket)

  • 93% of local councillors are white British (in 2011, 86% of the UK population identified as being white)

NALC is also firing the starting gun on its parish elections 2019 campaign – coinciding with the government-backed #CommunitiesWeek which recognises the work of local people, groups and organisations across the country in driving positive change and making an impact in their local areas – to encourage more people to stand for election as local councillors next May.  

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC said "For the first time in our history we have an in-depth understanding of what the local council sector looks like and the amazing ‘hyperlocal heroes’ who work tirelessly to improve their area.

“However what the NALC and the Fawcett Society research tell us is that there is still work to do for local councils to be more diverse and representative of the communities they serve.

“Next year’s local elections in May are a golden opportunity to get more people involved in making a positive difference in their area by putting themselves forward for election to their local council.

“But the clock is ticking and I want to see local councils across the country stepping up their efforts to encourage more people to become local councillors. 

“As part of our campaign NALC will be developing a range of resources including guidance to help local councils engage effectively with diverse members of their community, as well as calling for support from the government and Local Government Association.”

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