Authority Update

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 previoustwo weeks.

12/06/2015

Claire Booth

Claire Booth

Professional Support Lawyer

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    Highways
   Anti Social Behaviour    Housing
   Children's Services    IP / IT
   Economic Development    Litigation
   Education    Police
   Finance    Procurement
   Governance    Public Health
   Health and Social Care    Regulatory Services

 

Adult Social Services

DH: Adult social care efficiency tool: this updated tool provides a basis for comparing spending and outcomes between councils and helps directors of adult social services and local authority financial leads to find new opportunities for improving adult social care efficiency. It identifies similar areas (or ‘statistical neighbours’) for adult social care delivery for older people and working age adults with learning disabilities. Local authorities can use it to assess their own performance, and to identify where different approaches in comparable local authorities may provide examples to learn from. (12 June 2015)

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

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Anti Social Behaviour

Home Office: Injunctions to prevent gang-related violence:  revised statutory guidance for the police service, local authorities and a wide range of local partners involved in dealing with violent gangs. It reflects legislative changes made in the Serious Crime Act 2015 and the Crime and Courts Act 2013. There is also a practitioners’ guide. (8 June 2015)

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

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Children's Services

Ofsted: Inspection handbook – Inspections of services: children in need of help and protection CLA and care leavers: this updated handbook outlines revised arrangements for the days when inspectors are onsite, and provides new tools to help inspectors, local authority and LSCBs carry out the inspection more efficiently. It should be read alongside the updated Framework and evaluation schedule - children in need of help and protection CLA and care leavers that outlines the framework for the inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, looked after children and care leavers under s.136 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. (1 June 2015)

Childcare Bill: this Bill has been introduced into the Lords and received its 1st Reading. It places a duty on the Secretary of State to secure the availability of 30 hours free childcare for qualifying children of working parents, with details to be set out in regulations. It also amends s.12 of the Childcare Act 2006, to make provision in regulations for local authorities in England to publish information about childcare and related information. (2 June 2015)

Education and Adoption Bill: this Bill has been introduced into the Commons and received its 1st Reading. The Bill gives the Secretary of State power to direct local authorities to enter into joint arrangements for their adoption functions. The aim is for adoption functions to be carried out on a larger scale by fewer individual agencies, and so result in a greater pool of approved adopters with whom to match vulnerable children. It also enables the Government to intervene more swiftly in failing schools, with a new category of schools, ʹcoasting schoolsʹ (yet to be defined), where such intervention is deemed necessary. (3 June 2015)

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

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Economic Development

Wales Office: Secretary of State and councils to push forward with City Deal: announces that the Secretary of Sate for Wales is to open discussions with council leaders from the Cardiff capital region to drive forward plans for the City Deal for Cardiff. (8 June 2015)

DEFRA: New artisan food village to help grow ‘food capital’ Cornwall: announces that two projects will benefit from funding awarded to Cornwall, as part of one of the first Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs). These are a new DEFRA initiative designed to help food and farming businesses fast-track growth and new job creation by simplifying planning procedures. (5 June 2015)

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

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Education

Welsh Government: Draft non-statutory guidance for local authorities on elective home education: seeks views on draft guidance which highlights good practice from local authorities and home educators where parents elect to educate their child within the home environment. The consultation closes on 3 July 2015. (8 June 2015)

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

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Finance

NAO: Local government new burdens: this report considers how well the Government has applied the New Burdens Doctrine, which sets out how the Government will ensure that new requirements that increased local authorities’ spending do not lead to excessive council tax increases. The NAO underlines the importance of departments assessing new burdens on authorities not only rigorously but also transparently. It finds that DCLG has taken steps since November 2014 to improve its understanding of new burdens on local authorities; however, DCLG needs to use intelligence better, to improve its understanding of the pressures affecting local authorities’ financial sustainability. (11 June 2015)

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

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Governance

Referendum (Local Authority Governance) Bill: this Private Member's Bill has been introduced into the Lords by Lord Tope and received its 1st Reading. The Bill omits s.9NA LGA 2000 so as to allow local authorities which have opted for a mayor and cabinet executive in a referendum to hold further referendums under Part 1A LGA 2000. (8 June 2015)

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

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Health and Social Care

NAO: Care Act first-phase reforms: this report scrutinises the DH's implementation of the first phase of the Care Act 2014. it finds that the DH has implemented it well, with 99 per cent of local authorities confident that they would able to carry out the Act reforms from April 2015. However, the NAO warns that the DH’s cost estimates and chosen funding mechanisms have put local authorities under increased financial risk given the uncertain level of demand for adult social care. The report finds that the DH consulted carefully on the Act, to understand the main risks and respond to sector concerns, and there is wide support for the Act. Local authorities identified two big risks: cost and, secondly, uncertain additional demand from self-funders and carers. The DH may, however, have underestimated the demand for assessments and services for carers. (11 June 2015)

NICE: Social care of older people with complex care needs and multiple long-term conditions: seeks views on draft guidelines on how person-centred social care and support for older people with multiple long-term conditions should be planned and delivered. It addresses how those responsible for commissioning, managing and providing care for people with multiple long-term conditions should work together to deliver safe, high-quality services that promote independence, choice and control. The consultation closes on 13 July 2015. (2 June 2015)

Care and Support (Care Planning) (Wales) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1335 (W.126)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 6 April 2016, set out the details of local authorities' duty under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014  to prepare and maintain a care and support plan for an adult or child to whom it owes a duty to meet needs under s.35 or s.37 and to prepare a support plan for a carer to whom it owes a duty to meet needs under s.40 or s.42. (21 May 2015)

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

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Highways

DfT: Better local roads: the new Roads Minister Andrew Jones has given a speech to the Future Highways Conference 2015, in which he sets out the new Government's plans on highways maintenance and repairs, including the new Incentive Fund and the need for collaboration, such as combined authorities. (11 June 2015)

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

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Housing

APSE / TCPA: Housing the Nation – Ensuring councils can deliver more and better homes: announces that APSE and the TCPA have published a report that calls for a radical new approach to renew the quality and availability of social housing. They argue that by investing in social housing, the new Government can help to convert housing benefits into bricks, create a new basis for social housing renewal and bring jobs, skills and regeneration to local communities. It includes recommendations for councils to be at the heart of a new build programme, facilitated changes to funding, planning and S.106 development rules as well as reviewing Right to Buy. (1 June 2015)

Gorman v Newark & Sherwood Homes (Unreported, CA): the Court of Appeal has held that, on the proper construction of a housing director's report and the minutes of a housing committee meeting, the local authority had elected to operate an introductory tenancy regime under s.124(1) of the Housing Act 1996 in September 1997. The regime was not intended to be, and had not been, limited to a one year period, and a tenancy for a local authority property starting in August 2011 was an introductory tenancy. (8 June 2015)
The judgment is available on Lawtel (subscription required).

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

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IP / IT

Cabinet Office: Local government – Naming and registering websites: updated guidance for local government on how to apply for a .gov.uk domain, the naming conventions and the conditions of use. (10 June 2015)

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

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Litigation

Law Society: Litigants in person – New guidelines for lawyers: local authorities are often faced with claimants who are not legally represented. This guidance offers practical advice for lawyers who face litigants in person in the civil courts and tribunals. The guidelines discuss the relationship between the client's interest and the interests of the administration of justice, and the extent to which a lawyer can properly provide assistance to a litigant in person. The guidelines also discuss the role of McKenzie Friends. The guidelines are supplemented by notes to explain a lawyer's duties to their client and their responsibilities to the court, which members may wish to give to a litigant in person. There is also a summary of relevant cases. (4 June 2015)

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

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Police

NAO: Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales: this report concludes that police forces have successfully reduced costs since 2011, but do not have a clear understanding of the demands placed upon them or of the factors that affect their costs. It finds that the funding to PCCs decreased by £2.3bn (25%) in real-terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16. However, the Home Office does not have good enough information to work out by how much it can reduce funding without degrading services, or when it may need to support individual forces, and police forces do not have a good enough understanding of the demand for their services. (4 June 2015)

Home Office: Circular 021/2015 – Changes to Home Office guidance on police misconduct, unsatisfactory performance and attendance management procedures: updated statutory guidance on the Standards of Professional Behaviour for police officers, including special constables, issued under s.87(1) of the Police Act 1996. It also sets out the procedures for dealing with misconduct, unsatisfactory performance and attendance and for appeals to the Police Appeals Tribunal. (11 June 2015)

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

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Procurement

PPN 09/15: Requirements for contracting authorities to assist with procurement investigations: this PPN explains the new statutory requirements on contracting authorities to comply with Mystery Shopper procurement investigations under s.40 of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. The requirement to comply with a Mystery Shopper investigation applies to all contracting authorities covered by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which includes local authorities, registered providers and NHS bodies. The PPN explains that the Mystery Shopper service will ask contracting authorities to respond to their enquiries as soon as possible, usually within two weeks. This is initial request is not a statutory notice.  If the authority fails to respond or fails to assist the Mystery Shopper team then the team may issue a formal statutory notice. There is no specified form for that notice but contracting authorities must comply within 30 days of the day when the notice is given. (1 June 2015)

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

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Public Health

LGA: English devolution – Local solutions for a healthy nation: this publication was commissioned by the LGA to capture the thoughts of councillors, DPHs, providers, commissioners, academics and other key opinion formers on the challenges and opportunities devolution could bring in terms of improving the public's health. It calls for more devolution to local areas, which can bring economic, political and social benefits to communities across the country. (9 June 2015)

Public Health (Wales) Bill: this Bill has been introduced into the Welsh Assembly and is at Stage 1. It brings together a range of practical actions for improving and protecting health that focus on shaping social conditions which are conducive to good health, and where avoidable health harms can be prevented. These include: a national licensing system for body piercing and tattooing, and restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public places. it also places a duty on local authorities to prepare and publish a local toilets strategy. (8 June 2015)

LGA: Sexual health commissioning in local government: the LGA has published nine case studies that showcase local government experience of commissioning sexual health services since taking over this responsibility in April 2013. The studies demonstrate how commissioners have grasped the opportunities of having a local government base. They outline the steps taken to collaborate not only within and between local authorities but also with NHS England and CCGs. (9 June 2015)

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

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Regulatory Services

Cannock Chase Council: Suspect cable costs convicted scrap metal dealer £5,000: Cannock Chase DC has become one of the first local authorities in the country to successfully prosecute a scrap metal dealer under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. Cannock Magistrates' Court found Daniel Parnum guilty of three offences relating to failure to keep records on 19 May 2015.(1 June 2015)

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

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