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:

   Anti Social Behaviour    Local Government Reform
   Children's Services    Members
   Community Engagement    Officers
   Education    Partnerships
   Efficiency    Procurement
   Equality    Public Health
   Finance    Rates
   Governance
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

Anti Social Behaviour

Home Office: Guidance on drink banning orders on application: drinking banning orders (DBOs) are a new civil order that come into force on 31 August 2009 under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. They are intended to tackle alcohol-related criminal or disorderly behaviour, and are similar to ASBOs. Either the police or English local authorities can apply for DBOs against individuals aged 16 and over who are responsible for alcohol-related crime or disorder, and the DBO can last from between two months and two years. Offenders who are subject to a DBO can also be referred to a Positive Behaviour Intervention Course to address their alcohol misuse. Anyone who breaches a DBO is liable to a fine of up to £2,500. This guidance covers the seeking, making and enforcement of a DBO, as well as matters relating to the recipient’s attendance of an approved course. (1 September 2009)

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

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Children's Services

Pioneering councils named to drive forward innovative Integrated Family Support Teams: WAG has named the three areas chosen to pioneer a new innovative scheme to strengthen support for vulnerable children and families in Wales. Merthyr Tydfil CBC and Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC in a consortia arrangement, and Newport City Council and Wrexham CBC individually, have been selected to drive the development of the Integrated Family Support Teams in their areas along with their Local Health Boards. The new multi-agency teams, to be established under the Children and Families Measure (Wales), will bring together social workers, family workers, substance misuse professionals, nurses and health visitors, to work directly with families to protect and support vulnerable children. The teams will become operational in Spring 2010 and will be rolled out across Wales over the next five years. (24 August 2009)

DCSF: Parental experience of services for disabled children - qualitative research: sets out findings from research that explored disabled children’s parents' experiences and views of the range of services used and received in relation to their child. (27 August 2009)

DCSF: Parental experience of services for disabled children - national survey: data collected from the first year of this survey was used to develop baseline scores for a new indicator and 15 sub-indicators based on the proportion of parents who received an ‘acceptable’ level of service. From Year 2 the survey will be implemented nationally, with indicator scores generated for all LA and PCT areas.  (27 August 2009)  

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

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Community Engagement

DCLG: Local authorities receive fresh cash injection to tackle extremism: announces that local authorities are to share £7.5m funding that will enable them to support a broader range of activities to improve the effectiveness of the Prevent programme, which aims to bring communities together to challenge Al-Qaeda type violence. The funds will be allocated through an area based grant, which will be distributed to 94 councils. The funding is in addition to the £45m announced for in October 2007. (28 August 2009)
The Home Office has issued updated guidance on delivering the Prevent strategy that adds information on lessons learned and emerging best practice. It aims to help to achieve more effective local delivery of the Prevent strategy in communities.

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

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Education

Children Act 1989 (Higher Education Bursary) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/2274): section 23C of the Children Act 1989 (inserted by s.21 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008) imposes a duty on local authorities to pay a higher education bursary to former looked after children who go on to pursue higher education in accordance with their pathway plan. These regulations, which came into force on 22 August 2009: set the amount of the higher education bursary at £2,000; prescribe the meaning of "higher education" for the purposes of determining eligibility for the higher education bursary; and set out what the arrangements should be in terms of the timing of payments of the higher education bursary and the circumstances in which the local authority can withhold or recover payments. (21 August 2009)

DCSF: Looked after and learning - evaluation of the Virtual School Head pilot: this report examines the role of the Virtual School Head for looked after children in the 11 pilot authorities.The Virtual School Head acts as a local authority co-ordinator and champion to bring about improvements in the education of looked after children. (27 August 2009)

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

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Efficiency

IDeA: Total Place: this web page links to information on the Total Place initiative that that looks at how a ‘whole area’ approach to public services can lead to better services at less cost. It seeks to identify and avoid overlap and duplication between organisations, delivering a step change in both service improvement and efficiency at the local level. The web page also gives details of the 13 pilot areas participating in the scheme. (1 September 2009)

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

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IDeA: Equality guidance on procurement: the Equalities Bill currently before Parliament imposes a new Single Equality Duty on public authorities. It also gives Ministers a regulation-making power to impose specific duties in relation to public procurement functions. This guide provides both legal and practical guidance on how to apply equality and diversity in the key stages of the procurement process. It aims to clarify what needs to be done, how to do it and assist authorities to meet their legal and other requirements more efficiently by sharing relevant documents and approaches. (24 August 2009)

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

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DCLG: Exclusion of new council housing from the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system and pooling - Guidance for local authorities: guidance for English local authorities on applying under s.80B of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989  to exclude specified property from the HRA subsidy system. Amendments to the Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (England) Regulations 2003 will enable authorities to retain the full capital receipt on any subsequent sale of excluded properties, provided the receipts are used for affordable housing and regeneration projects. (26 August 2009)
See also DCLG: Changes to the Revenue and Capital Rules for New Council Housing: Consultation on excluding new council housing from housing revenue account subsidy and pooling - Summary of responses that reports on the consultation on proposed changes to the 2003 Regulations that would exempt specified new properties from the redistributive effects of the housing revenue account subsidy system and from pooling of capital receipts. (26 August 2009)

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

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Governance

WAG: Minister sets out details of Anglesey intervention: the Welsh Local Government Minister Dr Brian Gibbons has issued Isle of Anglesey CC with a formal direction setting out the terms under which he will intervene in the running of the authority, and announced the nomination of David Bowles as Managing Director. This follows a report by the Auditor General for Wales published in July that identified serious failings in the corporate governance of the Council, and recommended that WAG intervene to address them. (12 August 2009) 

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

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Local Government Reform

DCLG: Reforming local government - impacts and interactions of central government policies from 2000 to 2006: Final report: summarises the key findings of a five-year study conducted by Cardiff Business School that evaluated the overall impacts of more than 20 local government policies that were associated with the 1998 and 2001 local government White Papers. It concludes that while Government's policies were reasonably consistent and coherent and did help to secure many of the outcomes which they were intended to, in future it might be helpful if the Government were able to state more explicitly how policies fit together so that local authorities are able to understand its view of the ‘bigger picture’. Policy makers may also want to give more careful consideration to how many central government initiatives local authorities and their partners can be expected to implement effectively at any one time. There may also be benefits in allowing more time for policies to take effect and to be evaluated effectively before the next round of initiatives is introduced. (26 August 2009)

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

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Members

WAG: Consultation on the report of the Councillor Commission Expert Panel Wales - Are we being served?: the Councillors Commission was set up to examine ways in which a more diverse range of people could be encouraged to stand as councillors. The Expert Panel was established by WAG to consider which of the recommendations made by the Councillors Commission could be implemented in Wales and also to consider other issues in local government not examined by the Commission which could affect the recruitment, retention and development of councillors in Wales. This document seeks views on the Panel's recommendations that cover the areas of councillor development, campaigning with others to raise awareness of local government and increasing interest in candidacy and to link up with employers to promote community involvement including council service. Comments are required by 6 November 2009. (14 August 2009)

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

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Officers

DCLG: Audit Commission to probe council "boomerang bosses"announces that the Audit Commission is to examine the issue of chief officers being dismissed with large severance payments, often on the basis of a fall-out or personality clash with the council leader rather than any shortcomings in their professional abilities. In many recent instances the officer has been appointed shortly afterwards to a senior position in another authority. The Commission will look at whether the practices and procedures that govern this issue are sufficiently robust to protect the taxpayer and offer value for money. (26 August 2009)

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

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Partnerships

IDeA: Working together in two and three-tier areas: this publication for officers, members and practitioners operating in two and three-tier areas outlines the findings and recommendations from research that looked at the barriers to effective two and three tier-working, and proposes solutions. (24 August 2009)

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

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Procurement

OGC: Procurement policy note – third party accreditors: Information Note 09/09: this note clarifies and re-states the OGC position on third party accreditors: that contracting authorities should not make registration or accreditation with a particular fee-based accreditation body or organisation a condition for bidding for a contract. (19 August 2009)

OGC: Procurement policy note - policy on standards and references: Information note 10/09: emphasises the recommendations of the Glover Review regarding: the requirement in public procurement to accept equivalent standards and evidence from organisations bidding for contract opportunities; and the requirement to accept from bidding organisations both private and public sector-based references and evidence of capability.  (19 August 2009)

OGC: Access for All programme - documentation for feedback: OGC is seeking views on four draft documents that are working towards a number of the recommendations from the Glover Review: Accelerating the SME Economic Engine, that looked at the barriers which small and medium sized firms face when competing for public sector contracts. Some of the deadlines for responses have passed. The documents cover:

  • Below threshold PQQ : consultation closed on 26 August 2009;
  • Contract award notification: consultation closed on 26 August 2009;
  • Electronic tendering guidance: closes on 16 September 2009; and
  • Contract flagging: closes on 30 September 2009.

(24 August 2009)

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

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Public Health

Food Standards Agency: EU review of food hygiene legislation: the EU Food Hygiene Regulations 852/2004, 853/2004 and 854/2004 require all food businesses to be registered with the competent authority. Food business operators are also required to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure, or procedures. The legislation is structured to ensure that the appropriate level of public health protection is in place without placing unnecessary burdens on businesses. Food businesses can apply the legislation flexibly and proportionately according to the nature of the business. The FSA has written to interested parties seeking views on how to take forward issues raised by the European Commission in its July 2009 report on the implementation of the EU food hygiene legislation. This web page links to the EU report, supporting documents, the FSA’s letter and the background to the legislation. Comments are required by 14 September 2009. (26 August 2009)

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

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Rates

Business Rate Supplements Act 2009 (Commencement No. 1) (England) Order 2009 (SI 2009/2202 (C.96)): the Business Rate Supplements Act 2009  gives county councils, unitary authorities and the GLA power to levy a supplement on the national business rate with effect from 1April 2010. Levying authorities wishing to launch a business rate supplement (BRS) must first consult on proposals set out in a prospectus and hold ballots where revenue from the BRS will amount to more than one third of the total cost of the project to be funded. This Order brings all the remaining provisions fo the Act into force on 19 August 2009. (14 August 2009)

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

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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 2009:

 If you wish to attend any of these sessions, or if you would like a hard copy of our Local Government Training Programme 2009 desk calendar, please contact our Events team.

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