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    Housing
   Adult Social Services    Judicial Review
   Audit    Pensions
   Children's Services    Private Finance Initiative (PFI)
   Economic Development    Procurement
   Education    Public Health
   Emergency Planning    Regulatory Services
   Employment    Scrutiny
   Finance    Social Investment
   Fire Authorities    Wales
   Governance

 

Access to Information

ICO: Charging for environmental information: this guidance explains how public authorities should comply with the charging regime laid out in reg.8 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), and, in particular, what constitutes a "reasonable amount". The guidance reflects the Commissioner’s position pending the court’s decision in East Sussex CC v Information Commissioner and Property Search Group, which has referred questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) relating to what a public authority may charge for supplying environmental information under the Environmental Information Directive 2003/4/EC. (25 June 2014)

ICO: Property searches and the EIR: this guidance explains how public authorities should respond to requests for local property search information, and the relationship between the EIR and the Local Authorities (England) (Charges for Property Searches) Regulations 2008. The guidance reflects the Commissioner’s position while awaiting the court’s decision in the East Sussex CC case (see above). (25 June 2014)

DH: Protecting health and care information – A consultation on proposals to introduce new regulations: seeks views on proposals to strengthen controls and safeguards on the use of an individual’s health and care data. Under the proposals, new regulations will place strong controls around the disclosure of data which might potentially identify individuals by the HSCIC and accredited safe havens. In addition, the new regulations will address concerns about restrictions on the sharing of confidential personal information with NHS and social care case managers who need to have access to this information in relation to those for whom they are responsible for arranging health or care services. The consultation closes on 8 August 2014. (26 June 2014)

Draft Local Government (Transparency) (Descriptions of Information) (England) Order 2014: this draft Order adds to the descriptions of information covered by the Local Government Transparency Code 2014, about which the Secretary of State may require local authorities to publish information more than once a year. The two additional descriptions are:

  • information about any expenditure incurred by authorities; and
  • information about any legally enforceable agreement entered into by authorities and any invitations to tender for such agreements.

(20 June 2014)

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

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Adult Social Services

DH: Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework 2014 to 2015 – Handbook of definitions: the ASCOF measures how well care and support services achieve the outcomes that matter most to people. This Handbook of Definitions sets out the technical detail of each measure, with examples to minimise confusion and inconsistency in reporting and interpretation. (18 June 2014)

MoJ: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – Fact sheet: Offences of Ill-treatment or wilful neglect of persons receiving health care or adult social care services: background to, and details of, the proposed new statutory criminal offences of ill-treatment or wilful neglect by individual care workers or care provider organisations that are being introduced under the Bill. There will be two offences: one will apply for an individual perpetrator, and the other offence, formulated differently, will apply for organisations. (20 June 2014)

DH: The relative's property disregard: guidance for local authorities on how to apply the relative’s property disregard during a financial assessment of what a person can afford to contribute. The guidance has been updated in light of the decision in R (Walford) v Worcestershire CC [2014] EWHC 234 (Admin), which considered the scope and application of the property disregard under para.2(b)(ii) of Sch.4 to the National Assistance (Assessment of Resources) Regulations 1992. This requires a local authority to disregard the value of any premises owned by a local authority supported resident where the property is occupied in whole or in part as their home by a family member or relative who is aged 60 or over or is incapacitated. (26 June 2014)

Welsh Government: Residential placements for adults: draft regulations and guidance on cross-border placements, dispute resolution and business failure: seeks views on draft guidance on cross-border placements/dispute resolution and business failure under the Care Act 2014. It also invites Welsh bodies to comment on the draft regulations on dispute resolution and business failure. The consultation closes on 19 August 2014. (10 June 2014)

R (ZYN) v Walsall MBC [2014] EWHC 1918 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the issue in this case was whether the Council had to disregard capital derived from a personal injury settlement, which was managed by a deputy appointed by the Court of Protection, when deciding whether the injured person could be required to contribute to the cost of care services which they were receiving.
ZYN, who was severely disabled, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to charge her the full cost of her social care services. In 2003, ZYN had been awarded £500,000 in settlement of a clinical negligence claim, on the basis that she would not have to contribute to the cost of her future care out of the funds received. The settlement money was transferred to the Court of Protection to be dealt with in the court's discretion. The Council's policy was that service users who had more than £23,250 in capital and savings had to pay the full cost of their care. ZYN submitted that her capital should be disregarded as it fell within para.44 of Sch.10 to the Income Support (General) Regulations 1987, being capital which was administered on behalf of ZYN by the Court of Protection and/or which could only be disposed of by order or direction of the Court of Protection. The Council argued that reference to the "Court of Protection" in para.44 was a reference to the 'old' Court of Protection constituted under the Mental Health Act 1983 and did not refer to the 'new' Court of Protection under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It also contended that capital derived from an award of damages for personal injury that was managed by a deputy was not "administered by the court" and that capital exceeding £23,250 in value could be disposed of by the deputy without an order or direction of the court and so did not fall within para.44.
The court held, granting ZYN's application, that the Council's policy on charging for the cost of social care services was unlawful insofar as it took account of any of the capital derived from ZYN's personal injury settlement. It had to be be assumed that when the Mental Capacity 2005 was brought into force, Parliament left para.44 of the 1987 regulations unchanged because it was proceeding on the basis that the term "Court of Protection" in the 1987 regulations remained apposite when the office of the Supreme Court with that name ceased to exist and was replaced by the new Court of Protection. Any ambiguity in para.44 should be resolved by construing it in a way which accorded with Parliament's presumed understanding of its meaning and which treated it as having current effect rather than as an empty legacy of an earlier regime which had been left uselessly on the statute book. Paragraph 44 should be interpreted as applying to a situation where capital was administered for the court by a receiver or deputy, as the question whether capital was to be disregarded should not depend on whether the court administered the funds directly or by using an agent. The only interpretation of para.44 which made rational sense was an interpretation which treated the whole of ZYN's capital as falling within its scope even after an order had been made which permitted a deputy to withdraw a sum of money either for a particular purpose or for the general use and benefit of ZYN. Until the money was actually spent, it remained part of a fund which could only be disposed of by an order or direction of the court: it did not cease to be part of such a fund simply because the court had made the requisite order. Any other interpretation led to absurd consequences and was not what any rational legislator could have intended. (12 June 2014)

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

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Audit

Public Interest Reports and Recommendations (Modification of Consideration Procedure) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1629): para.5 of Sch.7 to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 sets out the procedure for the consideration by relevant authorities of public interest reports or recommendations. Relevant authorities must consider the report or recommendation at a meeting within one month of receiving it. These regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2015, modify the application of para.5(5) so that certain relevant authorities may consider a report or  ecommendation as soon as is practicable, rather than within one month of receipt. This is to accommodate smaller relevant authorities that are not required to hold public meetings. (27 June 2014)

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: Consultation on powers to delegate social care functions – Government response: sets out DfE's response to the consultation on extending the range of children’s social care functions that local authorities can delegate to third party providers. It states that the majority of respondents raised concerns with the proposals. By far the most common reason given for this was an objection to the possibility of “privatisation” or “profit making” in children’s services. Having considered the responses, the Government has decided to amend the draft regulations so that the extended range of functions can only be delegated to non profit-making organisations. (20 June 2014
The revised draft Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (Relevant Care Functions) (England) Regulations 2014 have now been laid before Parliament; DfE hopes to have approval in the early autumn so that local authorities can make use of the new freedoms from October onwards.  

DfE: Child performance regulations – Performance hours and breaks: seeks views on proposals to simplify and streamline the rules about the times that children can take part in performances that require a local authority licence and the breaks and time off they must have. The consultation closes on 29 August 2014. (23 June 2014) 

Ofsted: Consultation on integrated inspections of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers and joint inspection of the Local Safeguarding Children Board: seeks views on proposals for a new joint inspection framework for children's services. The integrated inspections by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Inspectorate of Probation, and where appropriate, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, will see partner inspectorates working alongside each other to look at the effectiveness of local authorities, health, police, probation and other services in helping to protect and care for children and young people. The consultation closes on 12 September 2014. (23 June 2014)

DfE: Early years pupil premium and funding for 2-year-olds: seeks views on the introduction of an early years pupil premium for all disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds in April 2015, and on moving to participation funding for the early education entitlement for 2-year-olds in the financial year 2015 to 2016. The consultation closes on 22 August 2014. (26 June 2014)

DWP: Child poverty strategy 2014 to 2017: sets out the Government's plans for reducing child poverty and the root causes of poverty, including worklessness, low earnings and educational failure, towards the goal of ending child poverty by 2020. It sets out what is being done to tackle the root causes of child poverty, building on the first strategy published in 2011.
The Government has also launched a consultation on Setting the 2020 persistent child poverty target under the Child Poverty Act 2010, that seeks views on what percentage the persistent child poverty target should be set at. The consultation closes on 14 August 2014. (26 June 2014)

Adoption and Children Act Register Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1492): these regulations, which come into force on 25 July 2014, prescribe the information to be held on the Register about children who are suitable for adoption, children for whom a local authority in England is considering adoption, and prospective adopters who are suitable to adopt a child. They also set out requirements about the retention and disclosure of such information, and make consequential amendments to the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005. (18 June 2014)

Adoption Support Services (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1563): these regulations, which come into force on 25 July 2014, insert new regs.2A and 2B into SI 2005/691 regarding local authorities' duty to provide information about adoption support services. (18 June 2014)

Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1556): these regulations, which come into force on 25 July 2014, amend SI 2005/389 and SI 2010/959 relating to the exercise of adoption agencies' functions and to local authorities' care planning for looked after children. The regulations enable the early placement of children with local authority foster parents who are also approved prospective adopters and place a duty on adoption agencies to consider whether to seek to identify prospective adopters who may be suitable to adopt siblings. They also make clear that, when considering whether contact between a child in care and their birth family (and certain others) is consistent with safeguarding and promoting the child’s welfare, the local authority must have regard to the child’s care plan. (18 June 2014)

Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 (Commencement No. 9) Order 2014 (SI 2014/1606 (W.164) (C.64)): this Order brings s.11(3) & (4) of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 (a local authority's duty to secure sufficient play opportunities in its area for children) into force in Wales on 1 July 2014. (11 June 2014)

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

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Economic Development

County All Party Parliamentary Group: Ambitious growth deals for counties: sets out the findings of an inquiry into a devolved appraoch to economic growth. It considers the geographical level to which powers and funding should be devolved, focusing on economic geography, the need for strategic capacity and the importance of local democratic accountability. It concludes that the key to enabling county councils and county unitary authorities and their partners to drive economic growth locally is to return to the ambition set out in Lord Heseltine’s report No Stone Unturned. Outside London and the metropolitan areas, the core building block for devolution should be county councils and county unitary authorities or, where that is supported locally, such as in the North East, wider groupings of counties and adjoining areas. (June 2014)

DBIS: Regional Growth Fund Round 6 – Information for applicants:  provides information on the RGF application process guidance on how to complete the application form for projects and programmes and an explanation of the criteria used to assess all bids. The closing date for bids for Round 6 is 30 September 2014. (19 June 2014)

DPM's Office: City Deals: the Government has signed three more City Deals that give each city new powers in exchange for greater responsibility to stimulate and support economic growth in their area:

(20 June 2014)

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill: this Bill has been introduced into Parliament and received its 1st Reading. The Bill includes a number of measures relevant to the public sector: 

  • prohibits highly paid public sector employees from keeping redundancy payments when they come back to the same part of the public sector within a short period of time; 
  • stops abuse of individuals on zero hour contracts by making sure they are not tied exclusively to one employer; 
  • deters employers from breaking National Minimum Wage legislation by amending the power to set the maximum penalty for under payment so it can be calculated on a per worker basis; 
  • helps small firms have fairer access to public procurement contracts; 
  • introduces a statutory Code for pub tenancies, with an adjudicator to rule on disputes; 
  • removes the requirement for early years providers to register separately with Ofsted for provision for two-year-olds; 
  • provides new and improved information on learning outcomes by tracking students through education into the labour market, identifying which schools and colleges provide the best routes to sustainable employment.

DBIS has published fact sheets on these measures that give more details on the provisions. (25 June 2014)

Welsh Government: Green growth Wales – Investing in the future: this prospectus sets out how the sustainable use of Wales' natural resources can create a new economic model that will deliver wealth creation and economic growth both today and in to the future. It sets out the Welsh Government's key offers around: the wealth of natural resources; a flexible and committed Government; and practical and customised support for business. (23 June 2014) 

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

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Education

LGA: Councils supporting youth transitions: this report captures a range of innovations and services, led by councils, to support young people's transition from school into further learning and work. The examples demonstrate how councils have been able to reduce 16 - 18 year old disengagement to an all-time low and increasingly support older young people towards work. Evidence demonstrates the value of creating personal advisers for individuals, planning provision across places, and brokering leadership and support into work. (11 June 2014)

DfE: Mental health and behaviour in schools – Departmental advice for school staff: practical advice for schools on how to identify and support those pupils whose behaviour suggests they may have unmet mental health needs. (16 June 2014)

DfE: The Equality Act 2010 and schools: updated advice on how the 2010 Act affects schools and how they should fulfil their duties under the Act. (17 June 2014)

DfE: School food in England: departmental advice on new school food standards that come into force on 1 January 2015. The revised standards will be mandatory in all maintained schools, academies that opened prior to 2010 and academies and free schools entering into a funding agreement from June 2014. (17 June 2014)

Welsh Government: Capability of headteachers – Guidance for schools: seeks views on proposed guidance for capability procedures of headteachers that aims to address the unique elements of the head teacher role. It provides clarity on the roles and responsibilities of all those involved as well as detailing the procedures to be followed. The consultation closes on 21 July 2014. (9 June 2014)

DfE: Proposed changes to the independent school standards: seeks views on revised requirements to raise standards regarding curriculum, staff and publishing inspection reports. The changes include strengthening the standards on spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils to help combat extremism – schools will be expected to actively promote fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. "Actively promoting" means focusing on, and being able to show how their work with pupils is effective in, embedding fundamental British values; it also means challenging pupils, staff or parents expressing opinions contrary to fundamental British values. The revised standards will come into force in independent schools, academies and free schools from September 2014. Ofsted will introduce an equivalent expectation on maintained schools through changes to the Ofsted framework later this year, and the DfE's Governors’ Handbook will reflect the new advice and highlight governors’ role in setting and securing an appropriate ethos, and monitoring practice in the school. The consultation closes on 18 August 2014. (23 June 2014)

EFA: Funding guidance for young people 2014 to 2015 – Funding regulations: advice for colleges, providers, schools and academies about the use of their annual funding allocation for the 2014/15 academic year. (23 June 2014) 

DfE: The youth contract for 16- to 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training evaluation: this report report evaluates and analyses the effectiveness of the youth contract for 16- to 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) to encourage participation in education or training. The report covers the Youth Contract operation between October 2012 and March 2014. The national Youth Contract model will continue to recruit young people until 31 March 2015. (26 June 2014)

Requirements for School Food Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1603): these regulations, which come into force on 1 January 2015, require food and drink provided to pupils in maintained schools and pupil referral units in England to comply with certain nutritional standards. The local authority or governing body has a duty under s.114A(4) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to secure that the regulations are complied with whenever they provide food or drink on, or in certain circumstances outside of, school premises. The regulations are designed to create a clearer, simpler set of food-based standards for school food than those in the 2007 Regulations (SI 2007/2359), which are revoked. (20 June 2014)

Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1652): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2014, provide a framework for the use of personal budgets for children and young people with special educational needs who have an Education Health and Care plan (EHC plan) or for whom a draft EHC plan is prepared. They set out the criteria and detailed provision for the use of personal budgets, including direct payments for special educational provision. (24 June 2014)

Education (Wales) Act 2014 (Commencement No. 1) Order 2014 (SI 2014/1605 (W.163) (C.63)): this Order brings certain sections of the 2014 Act into force in Wales on 14 July 2014. The sections relate to to the setting of term and holiday dates and times of school sessions, and to the Welsh Ministers' power to intervene in the exercise of a local authority’s education functions. (17 June 2014)

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

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Emergency Planning

HC Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: Winter floods 2013-14: this inquiry looked at lessons to be learnt from the severe storms and flooding last Winter, focusing on the capability of the country’s flood defences, the suitability of the Government’s flood risk management priorities and whether sufficient funding is available in the face of increasingly frequent weather events of this nature. The Committee finds that there is confusion about the division of maintenance responsibilities and powers – these are split between a variety of entities, including the Environment Agency, local councils, internal drainage boards and landowners, but there is a commonly held, but incorrect, assumption that maintenance is solely the responsibility of the Environment Agency. The report warns that frontline services in flood and coastal risk management must not be reduced. It is essential that funding cuts do not lead to unintended consequences where funding is redirected to one operational area to the detriment of another. It states that too often maintenance is neglected until a need is created for costly one-off capital investment. It recommends that DEFRA immediately draws up fully funded plans to address the current backlog of maintenance work (including routine dredging) and to accommodate the increased maintenance requirement caused by the growth in numbers of flood defence assets. The Committee also urges DEFRA to revisit its policy for funding allocation to recognise the economic and social value of agricultural land. Overall, DEFRA needs to recognise the importance of regular and sustained maintenance work in the prevention and management of flood risk and take steps to reflect the equal importance of maintenance alongside capital. The avoidance of flood events that devastate communities should, as far as is possible, take priority over cost-cutting. (17 June 2014)

Welsh Government: Reservoir safety in Wales – Consultation on the commencement of Schedule 4 to the Flood and Water Management Act 2010: seeks views on the Welsh Government's proposals to bring Sch.4 into force in one go so that the Reservoirs Act 1975, as amended, applies to all large raised reservoirs with a capacity of over 10,000 cubic metres immediately. All undertakers with reservoirs over 10,000 cubic metres will have to register with Natural Resources Wales (NRW). NRW will be responsible for identifying the reservoirs that are at "high risk", i.e. those reservoirs where human life would be in danger should there be an uncontrolled release of water. The consultation closes on 13 August 2014. (18 June 2014)

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

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Employment

DBIS: Whistleblowing framework – Call for evidence: Government response: sets out the Government's response to the July 2013 consultaton that looked at the effectiveness of the whistleblowing framework under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. It states that the Government will introduce new measures to give more information and support to employees who blow the whistle on wrongdoing in the workplace. It also reaffirms the position that claimants who win their case should have their employment tribunal costs reimbursed. (25 June 2014)

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

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Finance

HC Communities & Local Government Committee: Greater Government transparency needed: the Chairman of the Commons CLG Committee, Clive Betts, has called for the Government to stick to the agreed measure of local government spending power when discussing changes to funding, to enable proper public scrutiny and debate of town hall finances. He has written to the Communities Secretary asking him to set out the full calculations behind his claim in the 2013 Spending Round, and repeated by the Chancellor and Prime Minister, that local government expenditure would fall by only 2.3% in real terms between 2014/15 and 2015/16. However, neither the Treasury nor DCLG have been able to provide details of the spending reduction calculation and explain exactly which funding streams are included. Over the past year, Ministers have quoted a range of figures on local government spending, each of which has been calculated in a different way. This has meant that the Committee and the public have had no opportunity to scrutinise properly the proposed local government funding reductions. (24 June 2014)

NAO: Local government funding – Assurance to Parliament: this report examines how DCLG has implemented and oversees the assurance framework that enables departments to assure Parliament on funding for local authorities. It finds that DCLG has increased local authorities’ flexibility over their funding since 2010, but as a result has less information on how funds are being spent. DCLG believes that the system creates the conditions for local authorities to achieve value for money, but the NAO found its monitoring information gives limited insight into whether this is happening in practice. The report states that tensions remain where government departments continue to specify policy objectives for grants, despite local priorities now taking precedence for how funding can be spent and there is a risk that the primacy of local priorities within the accountability system could mean that the departments’ expectations for these grants are overridden locally. In addition, public funding can come through multi-agency, cross local border organisations which do not fit easily with government’s reliance on the system of local accountability. The report suggests that departments should assess whether continuing to fund local authorities through unringfenced targeted grants is appropriate in the context of a locally-defined approach to achieving value for money. (25 June 2014)
The Commons Public Accounts Committee has now launched an inquiry into Assurance to Parliament on funding for local authorities that will assess the implications for assurance to Parliament of the changed landscape of local authority funding and examine whether there is a potential misalignment of policy intent and local spending. (30 June 2014)

DCLG: Local Services Support Grant 2014 to 2015: this letter to local authority chief finance officers provides details of the 2014 to 2015 allocations of the Local Services Support Grant – a general grant allocated directly to local authorities as additional revenue funding to areas. (27 June 2014) 

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

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Fire Authorities

DCLG: Reform of fire service decision making in London – Consultation on changing the composition of the membership of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority: seeks views on a request by the Mayor of London that the Secretary of State make an order under Sch.28 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999, amending the composition of the membership of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). The Mayor  propose to improve LFEPA's democratic governance to bring it in to line with London’s other strategic bodies as he considers the current governance arrangements dysfunctional and lacking clear accountability to the electorate. The consultation closes on 29 July 2014. (17 June 2014)

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

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Governance

Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1514 (W.155)): these regulations, which come into force on 1 July 2014, amend SI 2006/1275 (W. 121) that sets out the provisions that Welsh local authorities must incorporate into their standing orders relating to their staff, meetings and proceedings. The amendments reflect provisions in the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011. (9 June 2014)

R (Pemberton International Ltd) v Lambeth LBC [2014] EWHC 1998 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the court has considered a local authority's powers to delegate its functions and whether a scheme of delegation breached the authority's Constitution, in the course of hearing an application for judicial review of the authority's grant of permission for change of use. The applicant contended that the planning permission was granted by an officer who lacked authority to make the decision. The Council's Constitution set out the scheme of delegation with "guidance notes"; one of these provided for an officer to sub-delegate a function. The Divisional Director (Planning, Regeneration and Enterprise) had delegated power to make planning decisions; she then executed a document authorising a number of named planning officers to take decisions. It was one of those officers that granted the permission in this case.
The court held that the Council's scheme of delegation did not violate the provision of s.101 LGA 1972. So long as the scheme as a whole either identified the officers, or set out the process by which the officers authorised to exercise certain functions could be identified, the scheme would be compatible with s.101. Reading the scheme as a whole, the intention was that a certain group of officers were authorised to exercise planning functions. The scheme was itself authorising a group of officers – the Divisional Director and those under her direct control (providing that they were approved for that task by the Divisional Director) – as the officers authorised to exercise the relevant planning functions. The requirement that the officer be nominated by the Divisional Director was an additional requirement to be satisfied by that officer in order to be authorised; it was not an attempt to confer a free-standing power on the Divisional Director to delegate or authorise officers of her choosing. As the court had concluded that the scheme of delegation properly construed did identify the officers who were authorised to exercise the relevant functions, it would not express a view on whether one officer could lawfully sub-delegate to, or authorise, another officer to exercise the relevant function if the scheme of delegation itself did not authorise that other officer to act.
The judge noted that the Council's Constitution, including its scheme of delegation, was not well structured or clearly drafted and did not perform the task expected of a constitution which was to provide for a clear and comprehensible allocation of functions between bodies, and to identify which bodies, officers or groups of officers are authorised to exercise particular functions. Amendments and improvements to the Constitution would be likely to minimise the risk of future legal challenges to the legality of decisions and reduce the risk of courts in future finding that the Council's arrangements were not, in fact, soundly based in law. (18 June 2014)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Government investment to build thousands of new homes: announces Government  investment across a range programmes to boost the supply of new homes in all areas of the housing market. The funding includesa  new £3m fund to help planning authorities tackle barriers to work starting on site. The fund will give authorities additional capacity to focus on issues such as finalising Section 106 agreements and signing off planning conditions, to help get work started on sites as quickly as possible. (26 June 2014)

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

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Judicial Review

MoJ: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – Fact sheet: Reform of judicial review: information on changes to judicial review in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which has recently been introduced into Parliament. The provisions cover:

  • cases being appealed able to ‘leapfrog’ directly to the Supreme Court in a wider range of circumstances;
  • a package of financial measures, including reforming Protective Costs Orders, Wasted Costs Orders, interveners’ costs and third party funding;
  • changes so that claims based on defects that are highly unlikely to have affected the outcome are dealt with proportionately; and
  • requiring the permission of the High Court before challenging certain planning decisions.

 (20 June 2014)

MoJ: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill – Fact sheet: Procedures for challenges to decisions under the planning Acts: sets out the background to, and details of, proposed changes to the procedure for "statutory review" of challenges to certain planning decisions. This procedure is similar to, but distinct from, judicial review. The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill introduces a permission stage for these challenges, to enable unmeritorious cases to be dealt with more quickly. It will also ensure consistency with the equivalent permission stage for planning judicial reviews. (20 June 2014) 

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

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Pensions

DCLG: The Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2014 – Draft regulations on scheme governance: seeks views on draft regulations amending the LGPS, which are to come into force from October 2014 onwards. The main provisions include a requirement for each administering authority to establish, no later than 1 April 2015, a local pension board to assist them with the effective and efficient management and administration of the scheme. The Secretary of State must establish a national scheme advisory board to advise him on the desirability of changes to the scheme. The consultation closes on 15 August 2014. (23 June 2014)

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

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Private Finance Initiative (PFI)

HC Treasury Committee: Private Finance 2: this report examines key elements of the measures to reform PFI and improve the way in which private finance was used to deliver public infrastructure, known as PF2. It focuses on whether these elements are likely to address the principal concerns the Committee has previously raised with regard to PFI. (19 June 2014)

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

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Procurement

DCLG: Government response to House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee’s Sixth Report of Session 2013-14: in March 2014 the Commons CLG Committee issued a report on local government procurement that critically examined how local authorities are working to improve their procurement operations. The Government has now published its response to the Committee's report in which it acknowledges that there is still considerable scope for improvement in local government procurement. It supports the Committee’s view that the drive to make these improvements should be sector led. It sets out a number of steps that local authorities can take to make significant savings, and comments on each of the Committee's recommendations. (25 June 2014)

Bevan Brittan byte size procurement updates: we have published two more articles in our "byte size" legal update series, in which we look at the new Public Sector Directive and deconstruct it into a topic based approach. For each topic we provide a brief explanation of the most relevant new and updated provisions in the new Directive. We also highlight some of the practical implications of those provisions:

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

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Public Health

UK Faculty of Public Health: Functions of the local public health system: sets out the local public health function in England. The functions are presented within the three domains of public health – health protection, health imporvement and health services – plus the underpinning functions of public health intelligence, academic public health and workforce development that are integral to each of the three domains. While the balance of responsibility will vary from place to place, the essential functions which must be assured in every locality remain constant. The document replaces the draft minimum standards for public health teams published in November 2013. (9 June 2014)

PHE: Reducing unintentional injuries among children and young people: advice for local authorities and their partners on developing strategies to help prevent accidents to children and young people in the home and on the road. The reports highlight actions that local partners can take to reduce accidents including improving safety for children travelling to and from school and using existing services like health visitors and children’s centres. (23 June 2014)

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

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Regulatory Services

DCLG: Response to consultation on local authority parking: sets out the Government's response to the December 2013 consultation on local authority parking enforcement. it states that the Government intends to introduce new provisions into the Deregulation Bill, imposing a ban on the use of CCTV cameras to enforce parking contraventions, with some limited exceptions such as schools, bus lanes, bus stops and red routes where public transport must be kept moving for safety reasons. The Government plans to introduce other measures relating to parking enforcement, including:

  • trialling a 25% discount for motorists who lose an appeal against a parking ticket at tribunal on the full price of their parking ticket;
  • changing guidance so motorists parking at an out-of-order meter are not fined if there are no alternative ways to pay;
  • increasing parking transparency so councils are required to publish how income from parking charges is being used, including a new statutory Transparency Code;
  • maintaining a freeze on parking penalty charges for the remainder of this Parliament; and
  • introducing mandatory 10 minute “grace periods” at the end of on-street paid for and free parking; and
  • giving local residents and local firms the right to demand a review of parking in their area, including charges and the use of yellow lines.

(23 June 2014)

Draft Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) (Amendment) Order 2014: this draft Order, which is scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2014, replaces Sch.1 to SI 2010/860 with a new Sch.1 setting out the four mandatory conditions which apply to relevant premises licences and club premises certificates. (23 June 2014)

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

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Scrutiny

DH: Local authority health scrutiny: this guidance explains the Local Authority (Public Health, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Scrutiny) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/218). It provides local authorities with advice about how to implement them to ensure that existing health services are providing effectively for local communities. (27 June 2014)

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

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Social Investment

Cabinet Office: Growing the social investment market – 2014 progress update: sets out progress against the actions that Government committed to in 2013-2014 to support the social investment market, and looks at current trends. It then outlines the Government's plans to support market growth in 2014–15 by making it easier to be an investor, building capacity amongst social ventures, opening up markets, helping communities access social investment and promoting the UK offer. 
The Cabinet Office has also announced £60m for social investment “readiness” over the next decade from the Future Builders Fund. This investment is specifically ring-fenced to support social ventures who have high potential but struggle to access finance, and who could benefit from business capacity building support in preparing for bidding for social investment. It will be based on the Cabinet Office’s pilot £10m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund. Social ventures who raised finance through this fund received £38 for every £1 of government grant. (19 June 2014)

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

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Wales

Welsh Government: A living language:  language for living – Moving forward: Draft policy statement: seeks view on a draft Policy Statement that builds on the foundations of the Welsh language strategy. It sets out the policy objectives for the Welsh language for the next three years. The consultation closes on 11 July 2014.
The Welsh Government has also announced £400,000 funding to maximise the link between the Welsh language and the economy, which will be used to develop a pilot project to improve the way that businesses provide services through the medium of Welsh in the Teifi Valley. In additon, £1.2m will also be invested over the next two years to boost the use of Welsh in the community. (17 June 2014)

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

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