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Authority Update

02/12/11

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:  

   Access to Information    Community Engagement
   Adult Social Services    Finance
   Anti Social Behaviour    Health and Social Care
   Children's Services    Private Finance Initiative
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme 

 

Access to Information

DWP: Social security information-sharing - draft regulations: seeks views on proposed Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services, etc) Regulations 2012 to be made under the Welfare Reform Bill (once enacted). The regulations implement plans to extend data sharing powers between DWP and local authorities, in relation to the provision of welfare services and social security benefits. The consultation closes on 13 January 2012. (21 November 2011)

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

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Adult Social Services

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Close to home - An inquiry into older people and human rights in home care: this inquiry has found that although many older people receive care at home which respects and enhances their human rights, this is by no means a universal experience. The inquiry uncovered areas of real concern in the treatment of some older people and significant shortcomings in the way that care is commissioned by local authorities. The report says that hundreds of thousands of older people lack protection under the Human Rights Act and it calls for this legal loophole to be closed. It questions commissioning practices that focus on a rigid list of tasks, rather than what older people actually want, and that give more weight to cost than to an acceptable quality of care. It found that very few local authority contracts for home care specify that the provider must comply with the Human Rights Act, which undermines the quality of care that older people are getting. The evidence given to the inquiry indicated that where human rights are embedded into the way home care is provided, high quality care is delivered without necessarily increasing costs.
The Commission's main recommendations fall under three broad categories:

  • Proper protection: closing the loophole in the Human Rights Act which would give protection to the growing number of older people receiving home care from private and voluntary sector agencies;
  • Effective monitoring: the Government, CQC and local authorities need to work together better to build human rights into home care and make sure that abuses are detected faster and dealt with more effectively; and
  • Clear guidance: clear and robust guidance on human rights is needed for local authorities so they can use the opportunities they have to promote and protect older people's human rights in commissioning; older people also need guidance to help them make choices about care and to explain how their human rights should be protected.

(23 November 2011)

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

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Anti Social Behaviour

Riots Communities and Victims Panel: 5 days in August - An interim report on the 2011 English riots: this report looks at the public disorder that took place on 6-10 August 2011, with the aim of tackling some of the myths that have been established about the cause of the riots. It finds that there was no single cause of the riots and there is no single solution. The Panel explores the link between deprivation and rioting, and the role of brands and consumerism, values and parenting. it concludes that riots of this nature will happen again and it sets out a number of recommendations for immediate action by individuals, government, public services and business. (28 November 2011)
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has issued a response to the interim report in which he highlights action being taken by the Government to tackle the problems raised in the Panel's report.

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan: this action plan looks at sexual exploitation from the perspective of the child. It highlights areas where more needs to be done and sets out specific actions which government, local agencies and voluntary and community sector partners need to take to address this form of abuse. (23 November 2011)

DfE: Evaluation of child poverty pilots - Delivering improved services for separating parents: sets out the findings from an evaluation of the effectiveness of the child poverty pilot projects in coordinating local services for separating and separated parents and their children, so that access to relevant services could be gained quickly, parental conflict was minimised, and there was reduced risk of children being negatively affected by the separation. (24 November 2011)

DfE: Impact evaluation of the Disabled Children's Access to Childcare Pilot (DCATCH): this report covers the main findings from a quantitative study designed to evaluate the impact of the DCATCH pilot scheme on the provision of childcare for disabled children. The focus of the pilot was to improve the range and quality of childcare in each area, and encourage disabled children and their families to play an active role in shaping local childcare services. The pilots primarily involved identifying and testing ways of improving access to childcare for disabled children and young people. (24 November 2011)

Ofsted: How to object - Guidance for registered childminders and childcare providers: this leaflet explains to those applying to register as, or already registered as, a childcare provider about how and when they can object to Ofsted's intention to take steps that will affect their registration. (29 November 2011)

DfE: Post-legislative assessments of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, Childcare Act 2006 and Children and Adoption Act 2006: this memorandum,prepared for the Commons Education Committee, outlines the background, objectives and implementation of each of the Acts and provides references from previous reviews of the Acts. (1 December 2011)

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

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Community Engagement

DCLG: Community Budgets - Expressions of interest and shortlisted areas: DCLG has announced the six areas that have been shortlisted to be one of two pilot areas for Whole Place Community Budgets, together with the 24 areas that have been shortlisted to work with Whitehall to develop Neighbourhood Level Community Budgets. This document also lists those areas that submitted expressions of interest. (2 December 2011)

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

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Finance

HM Treasury: Autumn Statement: the Chancellor has delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament. He announced permanent reductions in spending to ensure that the UK meets its fiscal targets, using some of those savings in the short term to fund infrastructure investment to generate long-term growth. Alongside this, he announced measures to help households and businesses cope with higher inflation and to ensure that deficit reduction is implemented fairly. Announcements of particular interest to local authorities include:

  • public sector pay awards to be set at an average of 1%  for each of the two years after the current pay freeze comes to an end, with departmental government budgets adjusted accordingly. Local government budgets will be adjusted on the assumption of comparable action being taken;
  • as previously announced, an extra £675m for local authorities in England which freeze or reduce their council tax in 2012-13;
  • more flexibility for local authorities  to support major infrastructure, including the possibility of allowing city mayors to borrow against future Community Infrastructure Levy receipts where this can make a significant contribution to national infrastructure; 
  • £170m extra funding for local transport projects;
  • £100m to create “super-connected” cities across the UK, with 80-100 mbps broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity;
  • £1bn increase in the Regional Growth Fund;
  • £600m funding for an estimated 100 additional Free Schools, alongside an extra £600m for local authorities with the greatest pressure on school places in England;
  • further £380m pa by 2014-15 to extend the offer of 15 hours' free education and care pw to disadvantaged two year olds;    

The Chancellor also published the National Infrastructure Plan 2011 that sets out a critical analysis of the state of the UK’s infrastructure along with a pipeline of over 500 infrastructure projects. It gives details of how the Government intends to meet its ambitions to address the key challenges in each major infrastructure sector – energy, transport, telecommunications, waste and water. (29 November 2011)
The LGA has issued a Parliamentary Briefing commenting on the key proposals in the Autumn Statement that affect local government.

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

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Health and Social Care

Audit Commission: Joining up health and social care - Improving value for money across the interface: this is the second in a series of briefings looking at adult social care. It shows significant variation in levels of emergency admissions to hospital, and other indicators that raise questions about how well services are being integrated to meet the preferences of older people. The briefing says that integrated working across health and social care offers opportunities for efficiencies and improvements to services, but it also finds that the NHS and councils have made patchy progress in improving joint working across health and social care. The briefing offers guidance to local partnerships with a list of questions to consider, suggestions for interventions that might help and case studies. (1 December 2011) 

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

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Private Finance Initiative

HM Treasury: Reform of the Private Finance Initiative: last month the Chancellor announced the Government’s intention to reform the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The Government is now inviting all interested parties to respond to a call for evidence on the reform of PFI and to bring forward proposals for a new approach to using the private sector in the delivery of public assets and services. Central to the development of new delivery models are the objectives of achieving long term value for money for the taxpayer, making more effective use of private sector innovation and skills, reducing costs, improving flexibility and increasing transparency.  The Government will also be looking to retain the benefits that successful PFI can deliver – in getting projects built to time and to budget and in creating the correct disciplines and incentives on the private sector to manage risk effectively. This paper sets out suggested areas of focus for reform but welcomes views and evidence on other issues that respondents consider are important, including proposals for other delivery models. The deadline for responses is 10 February 2012. (1 December 2011)

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

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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.

Forthcoming seminars in 2011/12 include:

For a list of all Bevan Brittan seminars see our new Events Programme for 2011/12. Full details, along with information on how to book a place, will be posted on our website about 6-8 weeks ahead of the scheduled date. If you wish to attend an LGG seminar that we are hosting at our offices, please book with LGG direct.

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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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