Authority Update 29/01/2016

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 three weeks.

29/01/2016

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 three 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:

   Byelaws

   Finance

   Children's Services

   Governance

   Coastal Protection and Flooding

   Health and Social Care

   Commons and Village Greens

   Highways

   Communities

   Housing

   Devolution

   Pensions

   Education

   Regulatory Services

   Emergency Services

   Standards

   Employment

   Traffic and Transport

   Equality and Discrimination

 

 

Byelaws

House of Commons Library: Local authority byelaws: this research briefing describes the general procedures under which local authorities in England and Wales may make byelaws, and lists some of the byelaw-making powers currently available. In 2015 new regulations were approved (but have not yet been made) reforming the procedure for making some byelaws in England; in Wales, the Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Act 2012 passes control of most byelaw procedure to local government in Wales. (22 December 2015)

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

^back to top

 

Children's Services

DfE: Education Secretary unveils plans to change adoption law: announces that the Government intends to introduce changes to legislation as soon as possible to make it clear that councils and courts must place children with the person best able to care for them right up until their 18th birthday, rather than with carers who cannot provide long term support. (14 January 2016)

DfE: Children's social care reform – A vision for change: outlines the Government’s reform programme for children’s social care services in England over the next five years. In addition, the Education Secretary has announced plans to create a brand new body that will focus on raising the quality of social work, education, training and practice in both children’s and adult’s social work. It will also set standards for training and oversee the roll out of a new assessment and accreditation system for children and family social workers. Over time, it will become the new regulatory body for social work, in place of the Health and Care Professions Council. Also, a further three councils will be given academy-style freedoms to develop new systems of delivering social care and trial new ways of working with families and children. (14 January 2016) 

Ofsted: Ofsted targeted local authority inspections: inspection framework and guidance: framework and guidance for Ofsted inspection of local authority arrangements and services for children in need of help and protection. These inspections take place by exception where Ofsted has concerns or where Ofsted wants to highlight effective practice. Local authorities and Local Safeguarding Children Boards can use this guidance to understand how inspections are conducted. They may also find it useful when carrying out self evaluations or improvement planning. (14 January 2016)
See also Ofsted's framework and guidance for joint inspections of local area services.

Ofsted: Child sexual exploitation and children missing from home, care or education – A ‘deep dive’ theme for Ofsted targeted local authority inspections: targeted local authority inspections include an evaluation of the ‘front door’ for child protection, where children at risk of harm first become known to the local authority and a ‘deep dive’ investigation - an evaluation of children and young people’s experiences.. This document outlines guidance for when the deep dive theme is child sexual exploitation and children missing from home, care or education. (14 January 2016)
See also Ofsted's guidance for inspectors on joint targeted area inspections that include a ‘deep dive’ investigation of child sexual exploitation and children missing from home, care or education. (14 January 2016)

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

^back to top

 

Coastal Protection and Flooding

Welsh Government: A further £4.2 million for flood affected communities: the Welsh Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant has announced a further £4.2m for two communities at risk of flooding. (12 January 2016)

Robert Lindley Ltd v East Riding of Yorkshire Council [2016] UKUT 6 (LC): RL, a farming company, sought compensation under s.14A(11) of the Land Drainage Act 1991 after some of its carrot crop was destroyed when floodwater that was being pumped from a nearby village breached the banks and overflowed onto the field. Initially, the fire authority's pumps were used; later, the Environment Agency (EA) loaned pumps. RL contended that the Council was liable as lead local flood authority as the operation fell within flood management work under s.14A(9)(g) of the 1991 Act. The council argued that the pumping at the relevant time  was carried out by the Fire Service and the EA and that the Council was not exercising powers under either of the sections when the loss occurred.
The tribunal held that the pumping by the Council was a flood risk management work within subs.(9)(g). The definition of flood risk management work was wide enough to include temporary as well as permanent work. The EA was a risk management authority within s.6(13) of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and had a duty to cooperate with the Council in the exercise of its flood risk management functions; it also had power under s.37(3) of the Environment Agency Act 1995 to provide advice or assistance to any person. The EA was assisting the Council in fulfilling its flood risk management work under the FWMA 2010 and that the pumping of the water was flood risk management work within s.14A of the 1991 Act. Therefore, as a matter of construction of s.14A(11), the injury suffered by RL was caused by the exercise of the Council’s powers under s.14A irrespective of whether the loan of the pumps was taken to have started prior to the relevant date. RL's claim succeeded and the Company was entitled to compensation of £14,500 together with interest. (11 January 2016)  

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

^back to top

Commons and Village Greens

Planning Inspectorate: Notes for guidance for local authorities proposing to appropriate land forming part of a common or town or village green under section 229 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 – Acquisition of Land Act 1981: Section 19 Certificate applications: guidance on applications under s.19 of the 1981 Act regarding appropriation or compulsory purchase of certain types of land, including common land or town or village green. This is subject to special parliamentary procedure unless a certificate is obtained from the Secretary of State confirming that suitable exchange land is to be given for the land taken, or that the giving of exchange land is unnecessary. (18 January 2016)

Planning Inspectorate: Common land guidance sheet 2d – London Borough commons: advice on obtaining consent for certain works and street improvements on metropolitan commons controlled and managed by a London Borough council. (21 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Communities

DCLG: Your guide to organising a street party: updated step-by-step guide for anyone looking to hold a street party. This now covers the Queen’s 90th birthday events on 12 June 2016 or The Big Lunch, supporting The Patron’s Lunch in inspiring street parties across the length and breadth of the country. Local authorities are encouraged to support local residents in bringing down any barriers that stop local areas from holding small private street parties. (15 January 2016) 

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

^back to top

Devolution

Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016: this Act has received Royal Assent. Most of the provisions come into force on 28 March 2016. The Act provides for the election of mayors for the areas of, and for conferring additional functions on, combined authorities established under Part 6 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009; it also enables local authority governance to be streamlined, including allowing the Secretary of State to change the constitution and membership of local authorities and make structural and boundary arrangements that may not be agreed by all councils; and confers power to establish, and to make provision about, sub-national transport bodies. (28 January 2016)
For a summary of the Act, see our Alert: Devolution Act gets Royal Assent.

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

^back to top

Education

DfE: Improving information in identifying children missing education: seeks views on proposals to amend the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 in order to improve the way schools provide local authorities with the information they need to identify children missing education. The consultation closes on 7 March 2016. (19 January 2016)

DfE: Parents to get greater say in the school admissions process: announces plans to reform the schools admission process by stopping objections to a school or local authority’s admissions arrangements from outside the local area, stopping vexatious complaints against faith schools from secularist campaign groups and requiring admissions authorities to consult on their admission arrangements every four years rather than the current seven. (25 January 2016)

DfE: New drive to protect children from 'spell of twisted ideologies': announces a new package of measures to protect children from extremism, including a new Educate Against Hate website offering advice on preventing extremism. (19 January 2016) 

DfE: SEND reform – Funding for local authorities - 2016 to 2017: the Government has announced £80 million to extend opportunities to children with special educational needs and disabilities. Alongside this, the Government is continuing transition funding in 2017 to 2018 to help implement the reforms introduced in 2014, building on the progress so far. This spreadsheet outlines the funding for each local authority during the 2016 to 2017 financial year; there is also a letter that describes the grant’s purpose and legal basis. (29 January 2015)

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

^back to top

Emergency Services

Home Office: Enabling closer working between the emergency services – Consultation responses and next steps: sets out the Government's response to the September 2015 consultation on proposals to increase joint working between emergency services, in order to improve effectiveness and deliver savings for the public. It announces that, in light of the responses, the Government will legislate to: 

  • introduce a statutory duty to collaborate on all three emergency services, to improve their efficiency or effectiveness; 
  • enable PCCs to take on the functions and duties of fire and rescue authorities, where a local case is made; 
  • further enable PCCs to create a single employer for police and fire personnel where they take on the responsibilities of their local fire and rescue service, and where a local case is made; 
  • in areas where a PCC has not become responsible for fire and rescue, enabling them to have representation on their local fire and rescue authority with voting rights, where the fire and rescue authority agrees; and 
  • abolish the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and give the Mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in London.

(26 January 2016)   

DCLG: Future control room improvements – Government update on fire and rescue authority schemes: updated summary of progress with the work that is underway in fire and rescue authorities to deliver improvements to control room efficiency and resilience. It provides a revised high-level national summary of the improvements being made by each project, delivery timescales and projected savings, while explaining how the fire and rescue authorities will continue to provide increased resilience and specific improvements at a local level, thereby strengthening the building blocks of national resilience. (15 January 2016)   

Home Office: Reforming the powers of police staff and volunteers – Summary of consultation responses and proposals for legislation: announces reforms to the powers and roles of police staff and volunteers, as part of the forthcoming Policing and Crime Bill, in light of responses to the September 2015 consultation. (20 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Employment

DBIS: Government response to the consultation on ballot thresholds in important public services: sets out the Government's response to the July 2015 consultation  which proposed that ‘important public sectors’ will be subject to the 40% threshold for taking industrial action. The paper sets out draft Industrial Action (Important Public Services) Regulations 2016 that specify exactly which important public service roles in the fire, education, health, transport, and border security sectors will require the support of at least 40% of all those entitled to vote in the relevant ballot. Ballots will also require at least 50% turnout in order to be valid. (21 January 2016) 

DBIS: Consultation on apprenticeship targets for public sector bodies: changes to the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 made by the Enterprise Bill enable the Secretary of State to set targets related to the number of apprentices working for them. The bodies in scope and the target itself will be set out in regulations. This consultation seeks view on the proposed list of public bodies to be set such targets, which includes local authorities, fire and rescue authorities and the police. Public bodies will have a duty to publish information annually on progress towards meeting the target and send this information to the Secretary of State. The consultation closes on 4 March 2016. (27 January 2016) 

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

^back to top

Equality and Discrimination

R (Rutherford) v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions [2016] EWCA Civ 29 (CA): A (a female victim of serious violence living in housing protected under the Sanctuary Schemes) and R (the grandparents of a severely disabled child) contended that the removal by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions under Reg.B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 of part of their means-tested Housing Benefit in respect of their public sector housing was unlawful. The effect of the Regulations was to reduce Housing Benefit if the accommodation in which a person lived exceeded the number of bedrooms deemed to be required as defined by a formula (the so-called "bedroom tax"). Regulation B13 varied the so that an additional bedroom would be allowed for defined classes of persons. The appellants claimed that they should be part of that defined class. A claimed that failure to make provision in Reg.B13 for female victims of domestic violence living in accommodation adapted under the Sanctuary Scheme was unlawful discrimination on the ground of gender and that the Secretary of State had failed to comply with his Public Sector Equality Duty; R contended that the failure to make provision in Reg.B13 for accommodation for overnight carers of a disabled child was unlawful discrimination on the grounds of disability as provision was made for accommodation for children and for accommodation for the overnight carers of a disabled adult.
The court held, allowing the appeals, that Reg.B13 discriminated against women in Sanctuary Scheme accommodation; the issue was whether this discrimination was justified. Applying Burnip v Birmingham City Council [2012] EWCA Civ 629, the Secretary of State was not entitled to decide that the better way of providing for A and those in a similar position was by way of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), even though that would be a more flexible approach. Therefore the appeal in A must be allowed on the ground that the Secretary of State had failed to show that his reasons amounted to an objective and reasonable justification for the admitted discrimination in Reg.B13. The appeal on the PSED issue failed: it was not a breach of the PSED to fail to identify in the Equality Impact Assessment the very small group of those within the Sanctuary Schemes who had a need for an extra room; this was a very tiny and specific group.
In R's appeal, it was very difficult to justify the treatment within the same regulation of carers for disabled children and disabled adults, where precisely the opposite result was achieved: provision for the carers of disabled adults but not for the carers of disabled children. Even though DHPs were intended to provide the same sum of money this did not justify the different treatment of children and adults in respect of the same essential need within the same Regulation, as neither the Regulation nor the policy behind it addressed the best interests of the child as a primary consideration.
The court granted leave to appeal. (27 January 2016) 

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

^back to top

Finance

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/2041): these regulations, which come into force on 14 January 2016 amend SI 2012/2885 that provide for localised council tax reduction schemes which replaced council tax benefit on 1 April 2013. The amendments increase certain figures which are used in calculating whether a person is entitled to a reduction and the amount of that reduction. The purpose of uprating the figures is to maintain consistency with the situation that would have applied under council tax benefit. This instrument also updates the regulations to maintain consistency with changes which have come into effect in the housing benefit regime. (21 December 2015)

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

^back to top

Governance

DCLG: Some functions proposed for return to Rotherham – but improvements still needed: announces that the appointed commissioners have found that some of Rotherham MBC's functions, include housing, leisure services, education and financial services, are operating at an adequate standard and have sufficiently strong leadership in place to be transferred back to local democratic control.  However, the Communities Secretary has warned that control over the remaining functions, including children’s services and licensing, will be retained by the commissioners while significant challenges remain. This press release lists all the functions that are to be returned. (21 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Health and Social Care

Home Office: Duty for health and social care professionals and teachers to report female genital mutilation (FGM) to the police: this factsheet gives an overview of the female genital mutilation (FGM) mandatory reporting duty which came into force on 31 October 2015 via the Serious Crime Act 2015. (29 January 2016)

LGA: Behavioural insights and health: this paper looks at the variety of ways that people can be supported to make better choices. Councils are demonstrating this through the way they are making use of behavioural insights to improve health. From exploiting digital technologies to stressing social norms in a bid to encourage people to make lifestyle changes, local authorities have started using behavioural insights to make a difference to people's lives. (22 January 2016)

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

 

^back to top

 

Highways

DfT: Roadwork rules change to reduce congestion: announces that the Government plans to encourage seven-day working to ensure roadworks finish as quickly as possible on local ‘A’ roads, with potential charges of up to £5,000 per day for those leaving road works in place when no work is ongoing, and a new charge for those who leave temporary traffic lights in place after work has been completed. (27 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Housing

DCLG: Housing association tenants take first step to homeownership: announces the housing associations that have been chosen to pilot the new Voluntary Right to Buy scheme. It follows a voluntary agreement between the Government and the National Housing Federation to extend the Right to Buy to 1.3m housing association tenants. Under the agreement, every home sold will be replaced nationally with a new affordable home. The pilots will help inform the design and implementation of the main scheme before it is rolled out across the country under the Housing and Planning Bill. (25 January 2016) 

DCLG: £5 million cash for councils to stop rogue landlords: announces that 48 councils are to share £5m funding so they can take on irresponsible landlords by carrying out more raids, increasing inspections of property, issuing more statutory notices, surveying more streets and demolishing sheds and prohibited buildings. (22 January 2016)

Prime Minister's Office: Prime Minister pledges to transform sink estates: announces Government funding to improve 100 housing estates across the country, either radically transforming them or, in the worst cases, knocking them down and replacing them with high-quality homes. (10 January 2016) 

Welsh Government: Mandatory Quality Standards for new, rehabilitated and existing homes: seeks views on proposals for mandatory quality standards which will replace the current non-statutory standards for Registered Social Landlords and Local Housing Associations. The standards will apply to the existing 222,000 social homes in Wales and all new social housing properties built with Welsh Government support. The consultation closes on 12 April 2016. (18 January 2016) 

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

^back to top

Pensions

Centre for Policy Studies: LGPS (2018): this paper raises concerns that the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is rapidly running out of cash to meet pensions in payment, because of excessive pension promises relative to contributions. It warns that to avoid crisis the LGPS (2014) must be overhauled and replaced with a new sustainable defined contribution scheme, LGPS (2018). (11 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Regulatory Services

DBIS: Enterprise Bill – Extension and simplification of primary authority: this factsheet outlines the measures that will be included in the Enterprise Bill. This measure will change the rules relating to primary authorities. Primary authority allows businesses to form a partnership with one local authority. This local authority then provides advice that other local authorities must take into account when carrying out inspections or addressing non-compliance. (17 December 2015)

DfT: Local authority parking – Simplifying contravention codes and penalties: seeks views on introducing a more flexible system for setting penalty charge contravention codes and simplifying penalty charge bands. The changes involve removing the requirement that a new order is made each time the contravention codes are amended and scrapping the rarely used lower band in penalty charges. The consultation closes on 16 February 2016. (19 January 2016)

LGA: LGA trading standards review – Summary report: this review was commissioned as part of the LGA's Remodelling Public Protection work, and following the vision for the future of trading standards published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute that sought to highlight the challenges faced by council trading standards, licensing and environmental health teams following significant budget cuts. Senior councillors, officers and heads of trading standards were asked to give their views on the future of trading standards. The summary report outlines the key messages arising from the review, and the LGA's response. (27 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Standards

Law Commission: Misconduct in public office – Issues paper 1: The current law: the Law Commission has launched a consultation to explore how the current law governing misconduct in public office is being used and discover the problems caused in practice by the law’s lack of clarity. The aim of the consultation is to decide whether the existing offence of misconduct in public office should be abolished, retained, restated or amended and to pursue whatever scheme of reform is decided upon. The closing date for comments is 20 March 2016. (20 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Traffic and Transport

DfT: £40 million to drive green car revolution across UK cities: announces that four cities have been awarded a share of Go Ultra Low City Scheme funding created to support the take-up of plug-in electric cars across the UK. The funding has been awarded to cities which have designed schemes that will help encourage thousands of people to consider switching to a plug-in car. (25 January 2016)

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

^back to top

Related Insights

Bevan Brittan recruits public litigation and large loss specialist

by James Manning

Bevan Brittan recruits public litigation and large loss specialist

Procurement Byte on Supply Chain (3 of 3) – The Reporting on Payment...

by Fran Mussellwhite

Procurement Byte

CMA publishes Joint Venture Business Advice

by Trevor Watt

Joint Misadventure: specialist laundries fined £1.7m for market...

by Trevor Watt

Cheltenham Borough Council v Laird - Lessons learned

by Sarah Lamont

The recent decision of Cheltenham Borough Council v Laird must be one of the messiest local government bun fights to pass through...

Related Tags

Keep up to date With Bevan Brittan

What interests you?

About you?

You can view our privacy policy here