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    Equality and Discrimination
   Children's Services    Finance
   Coroners    Licensing
   Delivery of Services    Public Health
   Education    Waste Management
   Efficiency   
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

 

Adult Social Services

DH: Earnings disregard for residential care charging: this Impact Assessment analyses the impact of allowing individuals receiving residential care under the National Assistance Act 1948 to keep their earnings. The Government considers that the current charging rules in residential care discourage individuals from taking up employment, so inhibiting their life chances. It is therefore proposing to exempt earned income from the financial assessment for residential care in order to remove this barrier to employment. This change will enable some individuals in residential care will take up some level of employment, improving their life chances, and those currently working will retain their earnings. (27 February 2013)

DH: Direct payments for healthcare – A consultation on updated policy for regulations: direct payment, where money is given directly to an individual for the management of their NHS care, is one way of managing a personal health budget. They are currently only lawful within DH-approved pilot sites. The Government’s intention is to roll out personal health budgets more widely, including extending the use of direct payments, by updating the regulations so that they can be offered across England. This consultation seeks views on proposals to make some changes to the regulations based on learning from the recent pilot programme and discussions with personal health budget holders, healthcare professionals and other organisations. It discusses what will be excluded, for example acute and unplanned care and access to GP services. It also asks for views on issues including eligibility, paying family members for carrying out administrative functions, allowing local authorities to make direct payments for healthcare and separate bank accounts. The consultation closes on 26 April 2013. (1 March 2013)

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

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Children's Services

Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/446): these regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2013, amend reg.7 of the Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2130) so as to allow HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills to disclose details of the names and addresses of children’s homes that are included in its register of children’s homes to the Secretary of State for Education, the chief officers of police forces and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner if those persons request that information under s.36 of the Care Standards Act 2000. (4 March 2013)

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

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Coroners

MoJ: Implementing the coroner reforms in Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009: Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 introduces a number of structural changes to the coroner system, including national leadership and a new national framework of standards designed to deliver greater consistency and improved services for bereaved people. This paper seeks views on proposals for how Part 1 will be implemented, covering: coroner investigation regulations, inquest rules, fee and allowance regulations, coroner areas, and statutory guidance for bereaved people. The consultation closes on 12 April 2013. (1 March 2013) 

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

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Delivery of Services

DCMS: Government response to the report of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee – Library closures: sets out the Government’s response to the Select Committee’s November 2012 report that looked at what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century, local authorities’ statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and the impact that library closures have on local communities. The Government states that it will maintain national oversight and retain the statutory duty on local authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. It does not intend to intervene directly to force local authorities to merge their library services; however, it is clear that many library authorities would benefit from looking at a greater sharing of services, and the Government does intend to highlight potential efficiencies in the coming months. The report highlights that the Arts Council and the LGA have recently published guiding principles for authorities on issues to reflect on when considering the role of volunteers in community supported and community managed libraries and these publications provide adequate guidance for authorities to interpret as they consider reflect local circumstances. (28 January 2013)

NGLN / DCN: The road not taken – New ways of working for district councils: this report from New Local Government Network and District Councils' Network presents the findings from a survey of district council chief executives that looked at the future of districts and how they can develop and deliver on new ways of working in order to govern resilient and prosperous places in the medium and long term. It identifies how bold districts are realising their potential, partnering with developers, businesses and LEPs to attract investment and employment to their areas. (7 March 2013)

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

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Education

DfE: Monitoring visits guidance for local authorities – Key Stage 2 tests: local authorities must make unannounced visits to schools participating in the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum tests before, during and after the test period, to help  ensure that the security and confidentiality of the test materials are maintained, and that the tests are administered correctly and consistently in accordance with the published guidance. This guidance explains how local authorities should carry out monitoring visits to schools administering the tests. (25 February 2013)

DfE: Capital funding allocations announced: announces details of the capital funding of around £4bn that will be made available to create new school places and to carry out maintenance and repair work to existing school buildings. It also announces the launch of the Targeted Basic Need Programme to fund the provision of new, high quality school places in the areas that need it most. The programme will offer additional support to those local authorities experiencing the greatest pressure on places and will help them to prepare for further rises in pupil numbers. Local authorities will be able to bid for funding to increase the number of high quality school places available in areas with the most acute levels of need.  All new schools will open as Academies or Free Schools and successful local authorities will be required to run a competitive process in order to select the best provider. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2013. (1 March 2013)

School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013: this Act has received Royal Assent. The Act aims to strengthen school standards, enhance local determination and reduce complexity, by:

  • providing a clearer process for school intervention and drive up school improvement through the introduction of statutory guidance;
  • reforming the statutory process for school organisation so that decisions are taken locally wherever possible;
  • removing the requirement for School Governing Bodies to hold Annual Parents’ Meetings and introduce a new right for parents to call meetings with School Governing Bodies;
  • giving local authorities and schools greater flexibility over the pricing of school meals;
  • mainstreaming several grant-funded programmes to help streamline current processes; and
  • making local authorities accountable for planning Welsh-medium provision by making Welsh in Education Strategic Plans statutory.

It also recasts and consolidates existing education provisions in line with the development of a Welsh Statute Book. The Act comes into force on various dates - some sections come in on 5 March 2013, 1 April 2013, or 4 May 2013; the remainder come into force on a day (or days) to be appointed. (4 March 2013)

Welsh Government: Schools causing concern – Draft statutory guidance to local authorities: seeks views on draft statutory guidance to Welsh local authorities on the new legislative requirements for intervening in schools causing concern under the Schools Standards and Organisations (Wales) Act 2013. It also sets out the approach the Welsh Ministers will take in exercising their own intervention and consent functions.  Local authorities will be required to have regard to the guidance when exercising their functions in respect of intervention in schools causing concern.. The consultation closes on 29 April 2013. (4 March 2013)

DfE: Package of primary school measures will raise ambition – and standards: announces a package of measures designed to raise standards in primary schools, including a new primary school "floor standard" that 65 per cent of pupils achieve Level 4 in English and Maths. Primary schools which fall below the new 65 per cent floor and which do not achieve above average progress in these subject particularly those with a long history of underperformance, face being taken over by an Academy sponsor. (5 March 2013)

DfE: SEND pathfinder programme report: the SEND pathfinder programme was set up to test the Government's proposed reforms to the current system of supporting children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), as detailed in the 2011 Green Paper. There are 20 pathfinders, covering 31 local authorities and their PCT and emerging CCG partners. This report on progress with the programme demonstrates that the new reforms to help children and young people with SEND are progressing well.
The Government has also announced more funding, up to £600,000 in 2013-14 to drive forward these reforms. In additon, the Children and Families Bill will include a new legal duty on CCGs to have to secure services in education, health and care plans for children and young adults, so that local authorities, health professionals and volunteers come together to organise services, and set out a clear expectation of what parents, children and young adults with SEN will get. (5 March 2013) 

DfE: Government proposals to reform vocational qualifications for 16-19 year olds: seeks views on propsals to to establish new standards for level 3 vocational qualifications taken by 16- to 19-year-olds in schools and colleges from September 2014, so that only high value qualifications count in performance tables. It also discusses whether the Government should fund learners who are over 19 to take vocational qualifications that meet the new characteristics, but do not conform to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). The consultation closes on 10 May 2013. (7 March 2013) 

DfE: Guidance on home to school travel and transport: this statutory guidance provides a summary of the statutory duties with which local authorities must comply when making home to school travel arrangements. Local authorities must have regard to it when exercising their school travel arrangements duties under ss.508A - 508AD of the Education Act 1996. (8 March 2013)

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

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Efficiency

DCLG: Taxpayer funding of trade unions – Delivering sensible savings in local government: DCLG's ’50 ways to save’ issued in December 2012 contained tips and ideas on how councils could deliver savings to support frontline services, help reduce the deficit and keep Council Tax down. It included the recommendation to scrap trade union posts. This document follows this with more detailed advice on how councils can deliver such savings and work constructively with trade unions and local employees. (1 March 2013)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

DCMS: New education package to help stamp out caste discrimination in communities: announces that the Government will not at the present time exercise the power in the Equality Act 2010 to make discrimination and harassment because of caste unlawful, as the Government considers that it is not the most appropriate or effective way to tackle this complex and sensitive issue. Instead, it has appointed Talk For A Change to work with all interested organisations to find practical solutions to the problems that caste-based prejudice can cause. The programme will generate educational material for employers, schools, colleges and community groups to raise awareness of, and help tackle, the problem. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will examine the nature of caste prejudice and harassment, and consider what other action might be helpful; it will publish its findings later in 2013. (4 March 2013)

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

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Finance

Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (Council Tax Increases) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 20131/409): these regulations, which come into force on 26 February 2013, amend the provisions in SI 2012/444 governing the conduct of council tax referendums held under Chapter 4ZA of Part 1 LGFA 1992. They substitute the wording to be used in the council tax referendum question, and also make amendments to the ballot paper to be used in the referendum to reflect this revised wording. (25 February 2013)

Non-Domestic Rating (Rates Retention) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/452): these regulations, which come into force on 1 March 2013, implement the core elements of Business Rate Retention Scheme. In particular, they provide for the definition of non-domestic rating income for the purpose of calculating the billing authority’s payments under the scheme to the Secretary of State and certain other relevant authorities. They also set out the billing authority’s liabilities towards other authorities, and provide for the administration of the scheme generally. They form part of a group of SIs that will establish the new scheme. (28 February 2013)

Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/476): these regulations, which come into force on 31 March 2013 and 1 April 2013, amend SI 2003/3146 for two purposes: to help authorities manage liabilities for equal pay compensation payments; and to amend the provisions that require local housing authorities to pay to Government a proportion of capital receipts derived from the sale of housing land (“pooling”). (5 March 2013)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/501): these regulations, which come into force on 7 March 2013, enable billing authorities to authorise individuals to investigate offences committed in relation to council tax reduction schemes. They also create offences and enable penalties to be imposed in connection with the schemes. (6 March 2013)

Local Authorities (Contracting Out of Tax Billing, Collection and Enforcement Functions) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 (SI 2013/502): these regulations, which come into force on 7 March 2013, amend SI 1996/1880 to add additional functions relating to the administration and enforcement of council tax which may be contracted out by a billing authority in England, namely the functions of: giving notification of a decision about an application for a reduction of council tax; payment of a reduction; ascertaining liability to a premium; and collection of penalties under the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013. (6 March 2013)

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

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Licensing

Licensing Act 2003 (Forms) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/432): these regulations, which come into force on 21 March 2013, amend the Licensing Act 2003 (premises licences and club premises certificates) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/42) so as to prescribe new versions of the forms for an application for the variation of a premises licence, the minor variation of a premises licence or club premises certificate, and the variation of a club premises certificate. (28 February 2013)

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

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Public Health

DH: Guidance – Local authority charging on public health activity: from April 2013, upper tier and unitary local authorities in England have a new duty to take steps as they consider appropriate for improving the health of the people in their areas. This guidance sets out what public health improvement activity local authorities can charge for and what services must be free at the point of use, under the Local Authorities (Public Health Functions and Entry to Premises by Local Healthwatch Representatives) Regulations 2013. (28 February 2013)

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

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Waste Management

R (UK Recyclate Ltd) v Secretary of State for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs; Local Government Association and Welsh Local Government Association (Interested Parties) [2013] EWHC 425 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the seven claimants, who were all commercially involved in recycling and reprocessing, formed the Campaign for Real Recycling. They applied for judicial review of the UK's implementation of the revised Waste Framework Directive 2008/98 (WFD) insofar as it required the separate collection of certain types of waste, namely paper, metal, plastic and glass by 2015. The claimants argued that the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/988) failed to properly transpose the obligations under Art.11(1) of the WFD, namely that "co-mingling" and "separation" were mutually exclusive concepts.
The court held, dismissing the application, that: the revised WFD had been properly transposed into domestic law by the amended 2011 regulations; the obligation to set up separate collections of paper, metal, plastic and glass from 2015 was only necessary where it was technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP); it was correct that local authorities make decisions regarding TEEP and whether separate collections will be made in their areas, as they were uniquely placed to take into account local circumstances; and a reference to the European Court of Justice was not necessary or appropriate. 
(6 March 2013)
For more details, see our alert: Commingled waste collection – to stay (for now!) as the High Court finds against the Campaign for Real Recycling.

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

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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 include:

For more details on our training programme or information on tailored training to meet your authority's requirements, please contact our Events team.

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