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Authority Update

26/03/10

Legal intelligence for professionals in local government.

This update contains brief details of recent Government publications, legislation, cases and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work, which have been published in the previous two weeks. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

All links are correct at the date of publication. The following topics are covered in this update:

   Adult Social Services    Licensing
   Anti Social Behaviour    Maladministration
   Children's Services    Multi Area Agreements
   Civil Contingencies    Policing
   Community Engagement    Powers and Duties
   Comprehensive Area Assessment    Public Health
   Economic Development    Shared Services
   Education    Structural Change
   Efficiency    Surveillance
   Employment    Traffic and Transport
   Housing    Vetting and Barring
   Libraries    Wales
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

 

Adult Social Services

DH: Valuing people now: transfer of funding and commissioning of social care for adults with learning disabilities from the NHS to local Government: final returns 2010/11 by 31 March 2010: from April 2009, funding and commissioning of social care for adults with learning disabilities transferred from the NHS to local authorities. This letter to PCT and local authority lead commissioners gives guidance on implementation and requests final returns for 2010-11 by 31 March 2010. (18 March 2010)

DH: Charging for residential accommodation guide: guidance for local authorities on how to interpret changes to regulations covering the charging arrangements for local authority supported residential care, which comes into effect from 12 April 2010. The changes are brought in by circular LAC(DH)(2010)2: Charges For Residential Accommodation - CRAG Amendment No 29. (19 March 2010)

DH: Cross-border arrangements between England and Wales: guidance on arrangements under s.32(4) of the National Assistance Act 1948 (as inserted by s.148 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008) setting out which ordinary residence disputes are to be determined by the Secretary of State and which are to be determined by Welsh Ministers.
There is also guidance on the transitional provisions contained in Part 5 of SI 2010/708 (C.46). (19 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson.

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Anti Social Behaviour

DCLG: Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to gypsies and travellers: this guidance aims to encourage consistency amongst local authorities, the police and other agencies in their approach to tackling anti-social behaviour associated with gypsies and travellers, whether they are the victims or the perpetrators. It sets out the powers and tools available and how they may be used. It makes clear what action can be taken on policing and prevention, fly-tipping, noise, straying livestock and untaxed vehicles. It also stresses the importance of agencies working together to apply the same rules to gypsies and travellers when gathering evidence, prosecuting and collecting fines. (23 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Kane Kirkbride.

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Children's Services

DCSF: Sure Start Children's Centres statutory guidance: this guidance advises local authorities, PCTs and Jobcentre Plus on the action they need to take to comply with their new duties under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 relating to children’s centres. The Act places duties on local authorities in relation to establishing and running children’s centres. It also places duties on PCTs and Jobcentre Plus to consider regularly whether the early childhood services they provide should be delivered through children’s centres and it introduces a duty on Ofsted to inspect children’s centres. (16 March 2010)

DCSF: New code of practice for local authorities on delivery of free Early Years provision for 3- and 4-year-olds from September 2010: sets out statutory guidance and general principles for local authorities to help them manage and administer the new extended offer. The document replaces all previous guidance about the free entitlement for 3 and 4-year-olds from 1 September 2010. (16 March 2010)

DCSF: Breaking the link in the early years between disadvantage and low achievement - Everyone's business: this document for leaders of early years services in local authorities, Sure Start children’s centres, schools and other settings, outlines progress so far, promotes the importance of narrowing the achievement gap in the early years and offers some practical examples for leaders of what to do next.  (16 March 2010)

DCSF: Working together to safeguard children - a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children: revised statutory guidance on how organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in accordance with the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. It is addressed to practitioners and front line managers who have particular responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and to senior and operational managers, in organisations. (17 March 2010)

NSDU: Local Safeguarding Children Boards - Practice guidance for consultation: seeks views on draft guidance for Local Safeguarding Children Boards. The practice guidance responds to a recommendation from Lord Laming, and requests from LSCBs, for additional non-statutory guidance and for better sharing of local practice. It concentrates on ways of measuring effectiveness and on particular issues relating to governance, accountability and management. It is, however, not extensive; some stakeholders have reservations about the usefulness of further guidance, whether statutory or non-statutory. It should be read alongside Chapter 3 of statutory guidance "Working together to safeguard children" (see above), which sets out the statutory functions of an LSCB and the separate statutory guidance on Children’s Trust Boards. The consultation closes on 9 June 2010. (17 March 2010)

DCSF: The Government's response to Lord Laming - One year on: provides an overview of progress against Lord Laming’s recommendations and sets out future priorities. The report summarises the progress and sets out how the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit (NSDU) will seek to make a difference over the coming year. (17 March 2010)

Childcare (Exemptions from Registration) (Amendment) Order 2010 (SI 2010/744): this Order, which comes into force on 8 April 2010, amends SI 2008/1804 so as to exempt from registration under the Childcare Act 2006 childminding for the children of friends where this is not provided in return for a payment of money or money’s worth. (17 March 2010)

DCSF: Consultation on draft regulations, and associated statutory guidance regarding accommodated children in long-term residential placements visiting and support arrangements: seeks views on proposed regulations and statutory guidance that strengthens local authorities' duties under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 to ensure the welfare of children is safeguarded and promoted when they are placed in health, education and other establishments for consecutive periods of three months or more. They require representatives of local authorities to visit the children and provide services to help them maintain contact with their families. The consultation closes on 11 June 2010. (19 March 2010)

Ofsted: Whistleblowing about local authority safeguarding services: seeks views on a revised draft of Ofsted's whistleblowing policy and guidance. The documents aim to clarify what Ofsted is able to do and what it is not able to do when it receives allegations from employees and others working with children and young people to raise concerns about safeguarding practices and procedures. It also asks stakeholders if there is more to do to explain matters further. The consultation closes on 18 June 2010. (19 March 2010)

DCSF: NHS services and children's centres - how to share information appropriately with children's centre staff: sets out the framework for information sharing between all practitioners based at a children’s centre, so that information can be shared appropriately. It focuses particularly on sharing information relevant to delivering effective health services via a children’s centre. The leaflet sets out the legal context, and explains different approaches to sharing information on a case by case basis, and pre-planned bulk sharing of information. It flags the important distinction between the need for centres systemically to have access to basic personal information, and the need to share more detailed information on a case by case basis. (23 March 2010)

DCSF: Information, advice and guidance services for young people - Directions and statutory guidance for local authorities: seeks views on draft statutory guidance that provides a framework for a coordinated approach to planning, managing and reviewing IAG services. The consultation closes on 16 June 2010. (24 March 2010)

DCSF: Parenting and family support - Guidance for local authorities in England: this non-statutory guidance considers the case for supporting families and parents and identifies the impact that effective parenting and strong family functioning can have on children. It also describes what a good approach to commissioning looks like in the context of parenting and family support services. It replaces the October 2006 guidance and incorporates subsequent developments in parent and family services, including the national roll-out of ‘Think Family’ working between children’s and adults’ services, and targeted parent and family intervention. (24 March 2010)

DCSF: Early intervention - Securing good outcomes for all children and young people: "early intervention" means intervening as soon as possible to tackle problems that have already emerged for children and young people. This paper sets out issues for Children’s Trust Boards to consider as they seek to expand early intervention and to extract more value from the early intervention activity already underway. It also spells out what the Government intends to do to promote and sustain early intervention now and in the longer term. (25 March 2010)

DCSF: Flexible grant for better integrated services for children: announces a new Children and Young People's grant that will be trialled from April 2011, as a step towards further integration in services for children and young people and to support a shift to more early intervention and prevention. It will include money for youth activities, school improvement, support for families, disabled children, Sure Start and money for children and young people previously paid by the Area Based Grant within a single ring fence, but will not include the Dedicated Schools Grant. (25 March 2010)

DCSF: Promoting the educational achievement of looked after children - statutory guidance for local authorities: sets the framework through which local authorities will meet their statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of looked after children, including those placed out-of-authority. (26 March 2010)

DCSF: Statutory guidance on local duties on child poverty (Child Poverty Act 2010): seeks views on draft statutory guidance covering Part 2 of the 2010 Act that places duties on local authorities and named partner authorities to cooperate with a view to reducing, and mitigating the effects of, child poverty in their local areas. That cooperation must lead to the production of local child poverty needs assessments, which in turn inform local child poverty strategies. Authorities and named partner authorities must have regard to this guidance in taking forward their Part 2 duties. The consultation closes on 18 June 2010. (26 March 2010)

DCSF: Consultation on Visits to Former Looked After Children in Detention (England) Regulations 2010; and related guidance: the Care Matters White Paper made a commitment to extending the requirement of local authorities to ensure visits to children who lose their looked after status because they have been sentenced to custody.  These draft regulations 2010 and accompanying guidance aim to ensure that this group of children are appropriately assessed and supported during detention and on release. The consultation closes on 18 June 2010. (26 March 2010)

DH: National framework for children and young people's continuing care: sets out an equitable, transparent and timely process for assessing, deciding and agreeing bespoke packages of continuing care for those children and young people under the age of 18 who have continuing care needs that cannot be met by existing universal and specialist services alone. (26 March 2010)

DCSF: £5.5 million boost for holiday childcare: announces the 19 English local authorities that have been awarded funding for pilots to test creative approaches to summer holiday childcare for five- to 14-year-olds (26 March 2010)

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/959): these regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2011, provide for care planning for children who are looked after by a local authority , whether or not they are in the care of the LA by virtue of a care order. They are in part consolidating regulations which revoke and replace three earlier instruments relating to the care of looked after children. (25 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson. 

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Civil Contingencies

Cabinet Office: Public consultation on Community Resilience guidance: seeks views on a package of documents about community resilience, including guidance for individuals and communities on how to prepare for emergencies and a strategic national framework for community resilience, which sets out the Government’s contribution to build and enhance community resilience across the UK. The consultation closes on 1 July 2010. (22 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Community Engagement

DCLG: National evaluation of participatory budgeting in England - interim evaluation report: this report from the Phase 1 study of the national evaluation of participatory budgeting in England explores: the reasons for doing participatory budgeting; what it involves; how much it costs; and provides evidence on what has been achieved by the use of the participatory budgeting process. (18 March 2010)

Local Authorities (Petitions) (England) Order 2010 (SI 2010/898): this Order, which comes into force on 15 June 2010, specifies those matters which are not to be regarded as relating to the functions of principal local authorities in England, so that petitions relating to those matters will not fall to be considered under the statutory petitions scheme required by Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. (25 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Comprehensive Area Assessment

Audit Commission: Independent reports will help CAA improvement: two independent reports have been pubilshed that evaluate the impact and cost of the first year of CAA, that will help the inspectorates improve the assessment framework. (17 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans. 

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Economic Development

DCLG: £50 million to help councils with economic recovery: announces the authorities that have been awarded funding for 2010/11 from the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives (LABGI) scheme that rewards councils which successfully promote local growth. LABGI grants are not ring-fenced. The press release links to details of the awards. (15 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans. 

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Education

DCSF: Investing for the future, protecting the front line: school funding 2010-13: by combining extra real-terms investment in the core services of early years, Sure Start, schools and colleges with efficiency savings, the Government will be able to meet frontline spending needs and deliver guarantees to pupils, parents and school leavers to meet the children’s plan commitments. This document sets out details of the savings that have been identified so far, providing more information about the real-terms rises in school funding to help schools and local authorities plan for the next three years. (15 March 2010)

DCSF: Consultation on the future distribution of school funding: seeks views on proposed arrangements for distributing the dedicated schools grant to local authorities from 2011-12 onwards. The consultation closes on 7 June 2010. (15 March 2010)

DCSF: Third annual report of the PricewaterhouseCoopers' evaluation of the Building Schools for the Future programme: demonstrates progress in the management and outcomes of the BSF programme. Whilst continuing improvements in support for schools has seen more head teachers engaged with the projects earlier and an increase in numbers happy with the advice and support they get, the report says schools would benefit from more resources from local authorities to reduce costs and cut workloads. The report also recommends that future evaluations of BSF should include a comparative analysis of the costs and impacts of refurbished buildings with those of complete new build schools. (18 March 2010)

DCSF: Learning for young people in youth custody in England. Statutory guidance for local authorities: seeks views on statutory guidance for local authorities in England to underpin their responsibilities towards education and training for young people detained in youth custody as set out in the Education Act 1996 (as amended by the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009). The legislation relating to young offender's education in youth custody places duties and powers on all local authorities, including the young person's ‘home' LA (usually defined as the LA in which the person ordinarily resides) and duties on LAs with youth custody establishments located in their area (‘host LAs'). The consultation closes on 15 June 2010. (22 March 2010)

DCSF: Revised guidance on safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education: seeks views on updated guidance that sets out the statutory framework and underlying principles for safeguarding children and young people in educational establishments in England, covering recruitment and vetting of staff and volunteers, the procedures for dealing with allegations against such staff, the new Vetting and Barring Scheme and the circumstances in which a referral to the ISA might be required. The consultation closes on 15 June 2010. (23 March 2010)

DCSF: Local authority commissioning pathfinders study: this study was commissioned to measure the impact and effectiveness of local authorities' commissioning role in different circumstances and to identify and analyse particular successful (and less successful) approaches to implementation of the commissioning role. The report looks at the processes involved in commissioning schools (both school places and schools to improve). It also looks at what local authorities have done in order to understand the factors affecting demand and supply of quality education in their areas. (25 March 2010)

Connor v Surrey CC [2010] EWCA Civ 286 (CA): the local authority appealed against the decision that it had been in breach of its duty of care to C, the head teacher at a primary school, as a result of which she suffered personal injury in the shape of psychiatric damage. C contended that the authority had failed to protect her from acrimonious disputes in the governing body of the school and from complaints which had been made against her and the school. The judge found that the authority's duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect her psychiatric health required them to replace the school's governing body with an Interim Executive Board (IEB), and that a decision to establish an inquiry to investigate a complaint by M, a governor, of racism and Islamophobia on C's part was made in disregard of the duty of care the authority owed to C and the staff. The authority argued that the actions which the judge held should have been taken, or not taken, by it in the discharge of its duty of care to C lay wholly in the field of the local authority's public law functions and were not justiciable in private law proceedings.
The Court of Appeal held, dismissing the appeal, that there was a pre-existing and independent duty of care owed to C: the duty of care situation did not just arise out of the statutory power. The law would, in an appropriate case, require the duty-owner to fulfil his pre-existing private law duty by the exercise of a public law discretion, but only if that could be done consistently with the duty-owner's full performance of his public law obligations. The standard tests of legality, rationality and fairness must be met as they applied to the use of the public law power in the particular case. The judge had been correct to find the two heads of negligence as he did: the local authority's duty of care to C, and its duty to intervene because of the "serious breakdown" in the way the school was being managed, plainly marched together. A decision to initiate IEB procedures would have been well justified. In relation to the establishment of the inquiry, although there were various pros and cons, there were no public law imperatives which should have prevented the local authority from fulfilling its duty of care to C by declining to do so. Therefore, its duty required it to decline to establish an inquiry. (18 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson. 

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Efficiency

Commission on 2020 Public Services: Beyond Beveridge - principles for 2020 public services: this interim report from the UK think tank sets out the urgency for change, the limits of our current public services settlement, and the need for a systematic and long-term approach approach to reform. The report says that the UK needs to overturn the existing Beveridge model of public services in order to cope with an ageing population, rising expectations and higher labour costs. It argues that power should be taken away from central government and given to local people, who would be encouraged to take greater responsibility for themselves. Recommendations included introducing ‘participatory budgeting’ between citizens and local services, setting up ‘outcome agreements’ and allowing people to get involved in commissioning services. The report also calls for an expansion of schemes where public sector professionals set up co-operatives to run services. (16 March 2010)

2020 Public Services Trust: Financing the UK's welfare states: this paper by Prof. Howard Glennerster, published alongside the Commission on 2020 Public Services' report, reveals the extent of the hole in public finances and advocates partnership approaches between the state and citizens to fund public services. (16 March 2010)

Wales Audit Office: A picture of public services - financial challenges facing public services: highlights the key issues facing public services in Wales and sheds light on the lessons learned in the five years since the Wales Audit Office was created. It predicts that, over the three years from April 2011, there could be a total cut in funding for Welsh public services of around £1.5bn. It warns against a narrow approach to efficiency based on doing more, or the same, with less money, fewer staff and less time, as this can ultimately result in a squeeze somewhere else, such as poorer quality services. It identifies key areas for public services to focus on, including strategy and planning, financial management, collaborative working, using performance data more effectively, staff management, and making better use of assets. To help support public services cope during the harsh economic times, the WAO has also launched a set of materials to help public bodies to achieve efficiency through innovation. (16 March 2010)

Institute of Directors: Towards Tesco - improving public sector procurement: this report argues that at least £25bn of annual efficiencies can be made in the public sector within three years through a radical restructuring of public sector procurement and greater use of shared services and outsourcing. It proposes that there should be mandatory use of structures such as centralised buying organisations and regional procurement hubs. (19 March 2010)

Audit Commission: Surviving the crunch - Local finances in the recession and beyond: this report traces the effects of the economic downturn on council services. It says that  most councils have been cushioned from the worst of the recession because the Government stuck to its three-year funding settlement; but this ends in 2011. Even though the timing and extent of cuts in government support are unclear, councils must prepare now for leaner times. The best-prepared councils are taking action now to preserve services in the years ahead, but others have yet to make any financial plans beyond 2011. The report recommends that councils tell the public and their staff about how they are planning to cope with the full effects of the recession. It includes a number of case studies. (23 March 2010)

HM Treasury: Budget 2010 - Chapter 6: Protecting public services: sets out details of the Government’s plans to protect key public service priorities whilst meeting its commitment to halve public sector net borrowing over the next four years. It re-affirms the Government's commitment to making £11bn of savings a year by 2012/13 from efficiency and streamlining Government; with local government being expected to deliver £2.1bn savings towards that total from areas including greater collaborative procurement, increased back office efficiency and greater use of shared services, and up to £100m through reducing energy usage in local authorities. The key messages for local government are summarised in the LGA's Budget 2010 - on the day briefing. (24 March 2010)

HM Treasury: Total Place - A whole area approach to public services: sets out proposals for sweeping changes to the way that public services will be delivered following wide-ranging testing of the Total Place approach in 13 pilot areas. The report presents a series of commitments that will give greater freedoms and flexibilities to support a new relationship between Government and places. The new ways of working pioneered by the pilots will be replicated in all areas across England; the best performing authorities will be supported to go further and faster with new far reaching freedoms through a 'single offer', and a much wider group of local authorities and their partners will be encouraged to pioneer new working in policy areas where they are strongest via 'devolved responsibility'. (25 March 2010)
Bevan Brittan LLP has issued an Alert Total Place - the legal implications that considers what this report means in practice for local authorities and their wider public sector partners.

DCLG: Smarter government: in light of the 2010 Budget, this publication provides updated information on Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government regarding: reductions from the National Indicator Set; answers to frequently asked questions; and reducing ring-fencing and rationalising workstreams. (25 March 2010)

HM Treasury: Smarter government - update of progress: sets out how the Government has delivered on each of the commitments in the December 2009 report Smarter Government - Putting the Frontline First. (24 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans. 

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Employment

DCLG: Equal pay capitalisation directions: Policy and procedures - Guidance note on Ministers' policy for issuing capitalisation directions in 2010-11: guidance on the fourth annual round of capitalisation authorised by the Government to help authorities with the one-off cost of equal pay compensation awards. Capitalisation directions give permission to local authorities to meet revenue costs out of capital resources, either through borrowing or capital receipts. This guidance tells councils how to apply for the current round of equal pay capitalisation. The amount of equal pay capitalisation directions issued will be announced in the autumn after taking into account the demand for capitalisation, the resource available to authorities and the wider fiscal position. The closing date for applications is 18 June 2010. (15 March 2010)

Audit Commission: By mutual agreement - severance payments to council chief executives: this study examines council chief executives’ job moves over a 33 month period. It finds that, although severance deals can be in the interests of the council and the taxpayer, not all such deals are justified, competent chief executives have sometimes lost their jobs needlessly, and less effective individuals have been paid-off rather than dismissed. The Commission wants all deals to be more transparent - they should be reviewed by scrutiny or remuneration committees, with details published shortly after they are agreed, and councils should consider whether to include so-called 'pre-nuptial' clauses in contracts, specifying the grounds and payment for severance. A way should also be found of recouping some of a pay-off where an executive moves quickly into another top council job. But the report found that rapid re-employment in local government is unusual - only six out of the 37 took up another senior council post within a year, and over 80 per cent have not returned to local government. The report also criticises the way councils manage chief executives' performance. (16 March 2010)
DCLG has responded by stating that John Denham has written to Margaret Eaton, LGA Chairman, inviting her to agree the Commission's proposals as key actions that Government and councils need to take forward to reassure the public that taxpayers' money is being used properly. In addition, the Minister made clear that councils should publish 'accessible' statements justifying to taxpayers any senior employees. This builds on the new pay transparency rules that require from 31 March 2010 all posts over £50,000 to be set out in annual accounts including the pay and perks of all 'senior posts' and naming individuals paid over £150,000. (16 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Sarah Lamont. 

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Housing

DCLG: Council housing - a real future (prospectus): seeks views on detailed proposals for reforming council housing finance that would include dismantling the current Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy system and replacing it with a devolved system of financing and accountability termed self-financing. Under self-financing, council landlords would keep all their rental income and use it to finance their own stock, ending the annual subsidy relationship with Government. The consultation closes on 6 July 2010. (25 March 2010)
DCLG has also published Modelling business plans for council landlords: local authority financial model user guide that provides guidance on using a model to establish a self-financing valuation for each council and to model business plans for each council.

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Penny Rinta-Suksi. 

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Libraries

DCMS: The modernisation review of public libraries - a policy statement: this policy statement provides a blueprint for England’s public library service, to help ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. It aims to help libraries adapt to the internet revolution, grasp the opportunities of digital technology and respond to the decline in use of existing services, the current economic climate and the public’s expectation of more customer-focused public services. (22 March 2010)

DCMS: The potential impact of VAT on the co-location of public libraries: outlines the VAT issues that need to be considered if a local authority chooses to co-locate it library service with partners who will be undertaking a diverse range of different activities to those undertaken by a library. It provides some generic guidance and information setting out the options that might be available to mitigate the potential impact of VAT. (22 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Licensing

Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) Order 2010 (SI 2010/860): this Order, which comes into force on 6 April 2010, specifies a set of mandatory licensing conditions to be added to all licences and club premises certificates of those who supply or sell alcohol by retail. These mandatory conditions are made in accordance with the four licensing objectives set out in the Licensing Act 2003, namely the prevention of crime and disorder; public safety; the prevention of public nuisance; and the protection of children from harm, and aim to prevent irresponsible promotions and practices in the retail or supply of alcohol. (16 March 2010)

Gambling Commission: Renewed co-operation between the Gambling Commission and local authorities: announces the publication of the updated Concordat, an agreement between the Gambling Commission and licensing authorities that is intended to establish a common understanding of the responsibilities of the Commission and the licensing authorities as defined by the Gambling Act 2005. It is based on a set of principles to help the industry comply with the Act and the key aims are to prevent gambling from being a source of crime and disorder, to ensure that it is fair and open, and above all, to protect children and vulnerable individuals from being exploited or harmed by gambling. (24 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Adam Kendall. 

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Maladministration

Complaints against Schools (England) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/853): these regulations, which come into force on 19 April 2010, prescribe matters for the implementation of a new independent complaints service run by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). The Service will investigate complaints against a school that the pupil or parent have sustained an injustice in consequence of an act of the governing body or prescribed functions of the head teacher. The regulations set out which matters can be the subject of a complaint that falls within the LGO's jurisdiction and which do not, the timescale for complaints, and the circumstances in which children who are not registered pupils can still make a complaint. (24 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Caraline Johnson. 

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Multi Area Agreements

DCLG: Multi-area agreements with duties - Consultation on draft statutory guidance: the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 introduces Multi Area Agreements (MAAs) with duties, which impose similar duties to co-operate as those which apply to Local Area Agreements (LAAs).This consultation seeks views on whether the guidance adequately explains the key principles and requirements of the underpinning legislation. The consultation closes on 9 June 2010. (17 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans. 

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Policing

Audit Commission: Learning lessons - an overview of the first ten joint inspections of police authorities by HMIC and the Audit Commission: this report highlights the continuing good practice across many authorities of holding chief constables to account for everyday performance of the force. It recognises the leadership and determination of chairs of police authorities in driving this forward. However, the inspectorates found that most authorities are not setting effective long term strategic plans for themselves and for forces. They do not have a clear enough focus on how forces provide value for money. As a result, the public cannot be assured that the police will provide a service that matches public expectations in the longer term.  (15 March 2010)

Home Office: Working together to protect crowded places guidance: sets out a strategic framework to reduce the vulnerability of crowded places to terrorist attack. It looks in particular at the contributions that key partners, including local authorities, police, Government Offices, devolved administrations and businesses, can make.  (17 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Powers and Duties

LGA: Draft Local Government (Power of General Competence) Bill: the LGA has published a draft Bill that aims to advance understanding of how a power of general competence would best be expressed in law, and whether such a power can be established in law in a way which could over-ride other legislation which conflicts with it, and ensure greater flexibility and certainty. The draft Bill would provide the power for a council to do anything that it considers likely to benefit its area and the people that live there. This would only be restricted where there was an explicit limitation created by statute. The Bill has been developed in partnership with legal experts from councils and partner organisations and has been submitted to the CLG Select Committee for consideration. More detail on the content of the Bill is given in the Explanatory Notes at the end of the publication. (18 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Public Health

Health Protection (Local Authority Powers) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/657): these regulations, which come into force on 6 April 2010, give local authorities discretionary powers to take action to protect public health, by allowing them to impose restrictions or requirements in certain limited circumstances, and through formal powers to request cooperation for health protection purposes and to disinfect or decontaminate things or premises on request. (9 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Adam Kendall. 

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Shared Services

NHS Confederation: Putting our heads together: this report contains feedback from joint post directors - including chief executives of both councils and PCTs - about the benefits and pitfalls of combining health and other local public service functions. The report argues that although joined-up working is a good way of saving costs and improving health outcomes the DH is not always a ‘credible advocate’. It also reveals that the ‘silo mentality’ of middle management often gets in the way of joint working and that there is a danger that staff became confused over competing chains of command. The Confederation calls for stronger national support for joint working but says that changes to services needed to be driven locally. (17 March 2010)

DCLG:  Guidance to local areas in England on pooling and aligning budgets: this guidance provides clarity on pooling and aligning budgets and on related issues often cited as difficult. It brings together current experience and learning from across different sectors with existing guidance to provide information and help. It also provides case studies and best practice examples, and links to additional help. It should be of interest to any local body that wants to look at the possibility of joint financing arrangements with other local partners. (17 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Bethan Evans. 

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Structural Change

DCLG: Parliament gives unitary status to Exeter and Norwich: reports that Parliament has approved the two Structural Change Orders that enable Exeter and Norwich to become unitary authorities. The rest of Devon and Norfolk will remain two-tier areas. (24 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Surveillance

Home Office: Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 - revised interception of communications code of practice: seeks views on proposed changes to the statutory codes of practice for covert surveillance and covert human intelligence sources that give guidance on the interception of communications under Part 1 of the 2000 Act. The consultation closes on 7 June 2010. (15 March 2010) 

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Carlton Sadler. 

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Traffic and Transport

DfT: Blue Badge reform programme - A consultation document: seeks views on proposals for improving the Blue Badge (Disabled Parking) Scheme. It focuses on: improving the enforcement regime for the Blue Badge Scheme; extending the eligibility criteria; and funding to help local authorities to establish independent medical assessments. The consultation closes on 2 July 2010. (22 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Adam Kendall. 

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Vetting and Barring

Independent Safeguarding Authority: The Vetting and Barring Scheme guidance: explains what the VBS is and how it will operate, how it will protect vulnerable groups, and the role of the ISA. It also explains employers' and intermediaries' added responsibilities under the scheme, how employees apply for ISA registration, and the benefits of the new referrals system and online checking service. (19 March 2010)

DCSF: Public consultation on continuing need for a controlled activity category in the Vetting and Barring Scheme: the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) includes a category of controlled activity in relation to children or vulnerable adults, comprising posts in the further education, healthcare and local authority sectors.  This consultation seeks on whether the Government should propose in the medium term to reduce this category in the VBS or remove it entirely, by moving some posts into regulated activity, and removing others from regulation by the VBS. The consultation closes on 17 June 2010. (23 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Carlton Sadler. 

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Wales

Local Government (Performance Indicators and Standards) (Wales) Order 2010 (SI 2010/482 (W.51)): this Order, which mainly comes into force on 1 April 2010, specifies the 21 performance indicators by reference to which the performance of county councils and county borough councils, in exercising their functions, will be measured from 1 April 2010. It revokes the Local Government (Best Value Performance Indicators) (Wales) Order 2008. (1 March 2010)

Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/685 (W.67)): these regulations, which mainly come into force on 1 April 2010, make a number of amendments to SI 2003/3239 (W.319) regarding the local authority capital expenditure framework in Wales. (10 March 2010)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Peter Keith-Lucas. 

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Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

Bevan Brittan has developed a well-recognised programme of training designed to assist local authorities in successfully implementing legal change. Led by key members of our local authority team, each session will clearly explain the key aspects of the law and the implications for local government. Using case studies and carefully selected complementary speakers, they will assist attendees in realising the full benefits of implementation and the dangerous pitfalls in failure to act.

The full Local Government Training Programme is available on our website. Forthcoming seminars in 2010 include:

 If you wish to attend any of these sessions please contact our Events team.

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Disclaimer

This update is intended to give general information about legal topics and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. Its contents should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and should not be relied on as such. In relation to any particular problem that you may have you are advised to seek specific legal advice.

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