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 two weeks up to 10 July 2009. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

10/07/2009

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    Local Area Agreements
   Children's Services    Meetings
   Community Interest Companies    Officers
   Comprehensive Area Assessment    Partnerships
   Economic Development    Public Health
   Education    Rating
   Efficiency    Regulatory Services
   Equality and Discrimination    Standards
   Freedom of Information    Structural Change
   Housing    Vetting and Barring
   Legislation
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

 

Adult Social Services

Research into the financial benefits of the Supporting People Programme, 2009: this report, undertaken by Capgemini for DCLG, finds that the Government's programme to provide housing support to vulnerable and homeless people has led to significant savings in the cost of other services. The report estimates that the £1.6bn invested through Supporting People has saved other services £3.41bn through reduced costs in homelessness, tenancy failure, crime, health and residential care packages. It also leads to other benefits, such as reducing the risk of social exclusion, increasing educational chances for children and improving the quality of life for vulnerable people. This year the £1.6bn allocated to councils through Supporting People will come with no strings attached leaving councils free to direct the money to where they see their most vulnerable residents. The Government is also providing authorities with a new financial modelling tool so they can better assess the financial benefits of housing related support in their area. (6 July 2009)

Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1768): these regulations, which come into force on 1September 2009, amend SI 2009/309 that sets out the procedure for the handling of complaints by local authorities in respect of complaints about adult social care, and by NHS bodies, primary care providers and independent providers in respect of provision of NHS care. The main alteration corrects a drafting error in the principal regulations which meant that the scope of complaints that local authorities were required to consider under the new complaints system would be inadvertently different from the scope of complaints under the 2006 regulations. (9 July 2009)

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

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Children's Services

DCSF: Statutory guidance on children who run away and go missing from home or care: guidance to help local authorities put better systems in place to support young runaways, replacing the 2002 guidance Children Missing from Care and from Home. It sets out how LAs must work with the police and voluntary sector, and across local authority borders to better support young runaways. The guidance puts a stronger emphasis on ensuring there are robust systems in place for children that run away from home, not just from care, because they are often unknown to children’s services, and highlights the importance of young runaways being offered a return interview, information sharing and using common assessment. It also explains the need for a named person to have responsibility at local level. (1 July 2009)

Ofsted: Support for care leavers: this report illustrates how effective strategies and services help improve the quality of life for young people leaving care, and assist them to make successful transitions into adulthood and independence. It is a small-scale survey based on visits to six local authorities and four secure provisions; it also draws on evidence from social care inspection and takes account of care leavers’ views and experiences. The report identifies how barriers to positive outcomes for care leavers have been overcome. (1 July 2009)
The Children's Secretary has also launched a national programme, From Care2 Work, that will fund the National Care Advisory Service to work closely with national employers and local authorities to offer opportunities for work experience and mentoring to support care leavers into work. There is also an additional £250,000 to ensure that every local authority will receive NCAS's advice and support , providing even more opportunities for care leavers to employment in a range of sectors.

MoJ: Early process evaluation of the Public Law Outline in family courts: the Public Law Outline (PLO) is a tool for the judicial case management of care proceedings cases. This report considers its early implementation in three areas. It finds that, while all respondents endorsed the aim of the PLO, there is ongoing dissatisfaction and disquiet regarding aspects of the pre-proceedings process. Compliance with the PLO varied across local authorities, and poor compliance was a key cause of delay to s.31 proceedings. Serious concerns regarding the pre-proceedings process included: 

  • the efficacy of the process in preventing cases coming to court;
  • duration of the pre-proceedings process and potential delays in issuing proceedings as a result;
  • access to and take-up of effective legal advice for both parents and children; and
  • the welfare, voice and human rights of the child during the pre-proceedings process.

It recommends that a process evaluation of local authority practice with regard to the PLO and the statutory guidance be commissioned across a range of settings. (1 July 2009)

DCSF: Safeguarding disabled children - practice guidance: advises local organisations on how to best safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children. The practice guidance is an update following the publication of ‘Working together to Safeguard Children’, which was issued in 2006. It is aimed at Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) partners, practitioners and other professionals working with disabled children and young people and their families.  (9 July 2009)
NB link not working as at date of publication. The guidance should be on the Every Child Matters Safeguarding Children web page; see also the press release.

Ofsted: Inspection of children's centres: seeks views on proposals for inspecting children's centres. Comments are required by 18 September 2009. (7 July 2009)

DCSF: Effectiveness of the new Local Safeguarding Children Boards in England - interim report: report from research into how LSCBs manage their safeguarding role and if the new systems and arrangements are ‘fit for purpose’ and are influencing and improving frontline practice. The small scale survey of 20 children’s centres in six local authorities found that over half of the centres were providing effective integration of services in supporting children and their parents making life changing differences. Leadership and management were rated good and outstanding in 15 of the centres visited. (9 July 2009)

Ofsted: The impact of integrated services on children and their families in Sure Start children’s centres: this report evaluates the impact of integrated services on children, parents and families in 20 children’s centres. It finds that the effective integration of services is having a positive impact in terms of support for children and parents in over half of the centres visited. Three centres were judged as making an outstanding difference. Challenges remain with onward links with primary schools, in reaching the most vulnerable families and in developing data on outcomes for parents and children. The least effective partnership working seen was between the children’s centres and Jobcentre Plus. (10 July 2009)

Childcare (General Childcare Register) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1545): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2009, amend SI 2008/975 so as to bring requirements for those childcare providers registered in the General Childcare Register about handling of parental complaints and use of childminding assistants into line with requirements for providers registered in the Early Years Register. They also remove the requirement for CRB checks on the families of children being cared for in their own homes. (29 June 2009)

Re C (Children) (Unreported) (CA): the court held that, where two children had been removed from their mother and placed into foster care by the local authority, the judge had fully considered the threshold requirements when considering the local authority's decision. There had been no breach of Art.6 and Art.8 ECHR in removing the children, and the whole process had been fair. (9 July 2009)
The judgment is available on Lawtel (password required).

Bedfordshire CC v D [2009] EWCA Civ 678 (CA): the court held that, on the evidence, a tribunal had not been entitled to conclude that, as a matter of law, a claim that a local authority had acted unlawfully in refusing to provide a taxi to collect a disabled pupil from an after-school club could not succeed. Therefore, it was appropriate to remit the matter to be heard by a fresh tribunal. (9 July 2009)

Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1547): these regulations, which mainly come into force on 1 September 2009, replace and consolidate, with modifications, SI 2007/723 and SI 2008/1740 that specifically define the categories of people who are disqualified from registration as childcare providers. The Regulations remove automatic disqualification of a person whose registration has been refused or cancelled due to the non-payment of fees, reinstate the power of HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills to waive disqualification for people applying to join the voluntary part of the General Childcare Register, and cite an additional power in the preamble. (29 June 2009)

Early Years Foundation Stage (Welfare Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1549): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2009, amend SI 2007/1771 so as to require registered early years providers to provide  information to the Chief Inspector relating to disqualification from registration. (29 June 2009)

Childcare (Provision of Information About Young Children) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1554): these regulations, which come into force on 22 July 2009, revoke and replace, with modifications, SI 2008/1722 (as amended). The main purpose of the modifications is to enable local authorities to collect data about young children from non-funded as well as funded early years providers. (30 June2009)

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

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Community Interest Companies

Draft Community Interest Company (Amendment) Regulations 2009: these draft regulations, which are due to come into force on 1 October 2009, amend various provisions of SI 2005/1788 to reflect legislative and other developments since the CIC form was introduced. (1 July 2009)

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

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Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA)

Audit Commission: Final adjustments made to CAA before December launch: announces changes to the CAA framework following the final round of consultation. Local partnerships will now have up to ten days to ask for a review of their area assessments, instead of the five days originally written into the published framework; also authority to ask for a review of the area assessment from the Chair is extended to include the Deputy Chair. No other elements of the Framework published on 10 February 2009 have been changed. The publication date for CAA assessments is now agreed as 10 December 2009, and the new CAA "oneplace" website will go live on that date. (7 July 2009)

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

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Economic Development

LGA: Global slowdown: local solutions II - councils helping people and businesses: this collection of case studies shows that councils are still the key players in developing an innovative and effective response to the current economic climate, and that they are already preparing people and businesses to be best placed when the recovery starts.

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

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Education

DCSF: Your child, your schools, our future - building a 21st century schools system: this White Paper sets out radical new school reforms that will build on the significant improvements in the last decade, create a world-class education system and build a strong economy and workforce for the future.  It includes proposals for:

  • a new Pupil Guarantee including one to one and small group work for children falling behind and progress check at Year 7;  
  • a new Parent Guarantee so they are fully involved in their child’s school, with school discipline agreements properly enforced; 
  • school report cards to give parents all the information they need, including other parents’ views; 
  • backing teachers with an entitlement to training and a new ‘licence to teach’; 
  • new legislation to require Children’s Trusts to intervene early where children have health, social or education issues; 
  • greater freedoms for schools to lead their own improvement, with large centrally-driven school improvement support being replaced by a system of locally tailored support services;
  • Accredited School Groups – chains of schools, directly run by the best education providers and giving schools new freedoms to drive up teaching standards and introduce innovative approaches; and
  • a freer and fairer funding system, remove funding restrictions so schools can pool funding on extended services, joint facilities and collocated services on single sites to improve children’s lives across their areas.

The Government has also announced that it will introduce a Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill in the next Parliamentary session, to implement these proposals (see below). (30 June 2009)

Audit Commission: Valuable lessons - Improving economy and efficiency in schools: this report examines how schools could save £400m a year if they bought equipment and services more sensibly. The report concludes that the Commission can’t be sure whether the taxpayer is getting value for money. It says that school inspections focused on educational standards and what teachers do, which is necessary, but pay less attention to economy and efficiency. Councils also pay insufficient attention to value for money in their support of schools. Many school governors should be tougher in seeking value for the public purse. (30 June 2009)

Training and Development Agency for Schools: Extended services -  a quick guide for governors: by 2010, all schools will be expected to provide access to a range of extended services aimed at removing the barriers that prevent children and young people from realising their potential. Governing bodies have an important role to play in developing extended services. This guide brings together all the essential information about extended services in one summary document for governors. (7 July 2009)

Designated Teacher (Looked After Pupils etc) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1538): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2009,  require the governing body of a maintained school to ensure that the person designated by them under s.20 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 as having responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of looked after children at school (“the designated teacher”) has the prescribed qualifications or experience (or both).  (26 June 2009)

School Organisation and Governance (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1556): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2009, amend parts of SI 2007/1288 and SI 2007/1289 in order to improve consistency across the school organisation regulations, improve general clarity and correct a number of errors/omissions. They also make minor amendments to a number of other SIs relating to school organisation and school governance. (30 June 2009)

Education (Individual Pupil Information) (Prescribed Persons) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1563): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2009, revoke and replace SI 1999/903 regarding the persons and categories of persons who can exchange information relating to individual pupils. They are essentially the same as the regulations they replace, with an update to the description of some of the persons and the addition to the list of Becta and Ofsted. (30 June 2009)

Education (School Inspection) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1564): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2009, amend SI 2005/2038 to extend the maximum interval between routine Ofsted school inspections from 3 years to 5 years. A similar amendment is made in respect of inspections of denominational education and collective worship in maintained faith schools. (30 June 2009)

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

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Efficiency

IDeA: Leading the way by working together: the nine Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships (RIEPs) were created in April 2008 with a three-year funding package of £185m to build on the successful foundations laid by the former Regional Improvement Partnerships and Regional Centres of Excellence. They help councils deliver the ambitious outcomes set through local area agreements by supporting them in their efforts to become more efficient, innovative and engaged with citizens. This is the first annual report from the RIEPs. It reflects on how the different parts of local government are working together to improve services and the places people live, illustrated with a series of recent case studies. (6 July 2009)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

Government Equalities Office: Equality Bill - making it work: Ending age discrimination in services and public functions - a consultation: seeks views on  proposals for a new legal ban on harmful age discrimination, which will make sure older people do not face unfair or substandard treatment when they are buying goods or using services, such as in shops, hospitals, or when accessing car and holiday insurance. The legislation will enable things that are beneficial, such as age-based holidays and discounts for pensioners, to continue. Comments are required by 30 September 2009. (29 June 2009)

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

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Freedom of Information

Home Office v Information Commissioner [2009] EWHC 1611 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the High Court has upheld the Information Tribunal's ruling that, in estimating the cost of complying with a request for information for the purposes of s.12 FOIA 2000, the time involved in considering whether particular information was covered by an exemption could not be taken into account. The Home Office's reliance on the time and expense in dealing with a member of the public's "meta-request" as a factor to be weighed in the balance came close to extending s.12 and the 2004 Fees Regulations (SI 2004/3244) impermissibly. (6 July 2009)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Housing - review of council housing finance: the Housing Minister John Healey has announced his intention to dismantle the Housing Revenue Subsidy System, replacing it with a system that will give councils greater independence and freedom to manage their own housing resources. From 30 June all new build council housing is excluded from the HRA subsidy system, which means that councils will retain in full the rent and capital receipts from these homes. DCLG will consult before the summer on proposals for councils to become self-financing and free to manage the needs of their housing stock as well as provide more efficient services for their tenants. (30 June 2009)

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

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Legislation

House of Commons: Draft legislative programme 2009/10: seeks views on the Government's plans for legislative and key non-legislative action in next year's Parliamentary session. The final programme will be published in the Queen's Speech later this year. The Government is proposing to introduce 11 Bills in key areas in the next Parliamentary session. Two of these (the Equality Bill and the Child Poverty Bill) have already been introduced but will largely be considered in the next session. Proposed Bills of particular interest to local authorities are:

  • Bribery Bill: modernises the law on bribery to support the highest ethical standards across business and public life and to equip prosecutors and courts to deal effectively with bribery. It will be based on the draft Bill that was published in March 2009;
  • Flood and Water Management Bill: addresses the immediate effects of climate change by strengthening the UK's resilience to the threat of flooding and drought, and reducing the risk of disruption to householders, businesses and the economy that flooding and drought can cause. It will clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in flood risk management and give the lead to local authorities in managing the risk of all local causes of floods; it will also place a duty on all relevant bodies to co-operate and share information in support of flood risk management;
  • Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children Bill: creates world class standards in schools, listening to parents, giving them more information and acting to protect vulnerable children by delivering the commitments in the Schools White Paper (see above), including giving parents a greater say over the range of schools in their local area and an accountability framework and school improvement strategies for all schools;
  • Equality Bill: includes: a ban on age discrimination by those providing services and public functions; a new duty on key public bodies such as local authorities to consider what action they could take to reduce the socio-economic inequalities people face; and a new Equality Duty on public bodies which would require them to consider the needs of diverse groups in the community when designing and delivering public services so that people can get fairer opportunities and better public services;
  • Child Poverty Bill: enshrines in law the Government's commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020, defining success in eradicating child poverty based on four targets.

Comments on the draft legislative programme as a whole, and also on specific policy issues and individual Bills, are required by 21 September 2009. 
The LGA has produced an On the Day Briefing that summarises the housing measures and gives more detail on the key Bills in the legislative programme. (29 June 2009)

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

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Local Area Agreements (LAAs)

Museums, Libraries and Archives Council: The role of museums, libraries, archives and local area agreements: this report presents the findings of a study that looked at the role museums, libraries and archives can play in meeting LAA targets and delivering local priorities. It identifies the contribution of the sector to the outcome of the 2008 LAAs and provides a useful analysis of how museum, library and archive services best become strategically engaged, and the barriers that get in the way. (8 July 2009)

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

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Meetings

LGA: Striking the balance - managing the use of council facilities for communities: suggests how councils can strengthen their facilities management policies against exploitation by extremist groups, who use, or attempt to use, council facilities to preach messages of religious, sexist or racist violence. The hiring of these facilities is usually done surreptitiously, and often at late notice so that councils are left on the back foot with scant information and then having to make an urgent decision on whether to cancel the event or let it proceed. A number of councils have expressed concerns over the difficulty in balancing their duty to uphold free speech with preventing threats to community cohesion, while also ensuring legitimate groups are not refused access to council facilities. The document provides a starting point suggesting key issues for councils, and urges councils to review their facilities management policies to ensure that this is adequately addressed. Rather than a set of prescriptive actions, this advice necessarily relies on the fact that this is an evolving issue which crucially depends on local circumstances. (1 July 2009)

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

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Officers

DCLG: Amending the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 to improve transparency of reporting remuneration of senior officers in public bodies - 2nd consultation: seeks further views on draft Accounts and Audit (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2009 that would amend Reg.7 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/533) to extend the requirement on public bodies when producing their annual statement of accounts to include additional information about the remuneration of senior officers. In particular, it welcomes views on:

  • the proposed level of disclosure for senior officers in terms of salary, bonuses, additional payments, benefits in kind, compensation/ex-gratia payments, and pension entitlements
  • the definition of ‘senior'; and
  • the proposed change to the way staff earning over £50,000 is reported, breaking this down into £5,000 bandings in place of the existing £10,000 bandings.

This consultation is part of the consultation exercise launched in March and so there is a very short time for response: comments are required by 20 July 2009. (2 July 2009)

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

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Partnerships

Partnerships UK: Partnerships UK joins with 4Ps to create a new joint venture – Local Partnerships: announces the formation of a new organisation, Local Partnerships, designed to work both for and with local public bodies and to support the improvement of public services and infrastructure at the community level. The new body, owned jointly by the LGA and Partnerships UK, will comprise all of the activities of local government’s project delivery specialist 4Ps, as well as a number of Partnerships UK’s activities. It will provide expertise to support commissioning, market shaping and market management, project management, procurement and contracting in public bodies. It will also deploy human and financial resources to assist in the development of a strong, mixed economy of providers of public services, including public, third and private sector bodies. Local Partnerships will start operating on 3 August 2009. (1 July 2009)

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

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Public Health

DH: Health protection regulations - a consultation: seeks views on three sets of draft health protection regulations to be made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, to continue the process of modernising health protection legislation in England. The regulations cover requirements for notification of disease caused by infection or contamination by chemicals or radiation, to allow prompt investigation and response; evidential requirements and safeguards for people who might be subject to a JP order under the amended Act; and updated local authority powers to protect public health. The draft Health Protection (Local Authority Powers) Regulations give local authorities discretionary powers to carry out certain health protection functions, including keeping a child with infectious disease or contamination off school; formally requesting cooperation to protect public health; and limiting contact with a body of a person who has died from infectious disease or contamination. Comments are required by 30 September 2009. (8 July 2009)

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

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Rating

Business Rate Supplement Act 2009: this Act has received Royal Assent. It comes into force on a day or days to be appointed. The Act gives local authorities powers to levy a local supplement on the business rate on properties with a rateable value of over £50,000 that they can use to undertake additional investment aimed at promoting the economic development of their local area. The proceeds can not be used as an additional revenue stream for existing services. There is a limit on the total amount a levying authority may charge in an area, to be set at 2p per £1 of rateable value. Authorities will be able to:

  • decide the duration of the supplement;
  • reduce liability for the supplement for properties above the £50,000 threshold;
  • decide whether the supplement applies to empty property ratepayers; and decide whether to offset Business Improvement District levies against liability for the Business Rate Supplement.

Authorities have a duty to consult local businesses liable in all cases where the new power is used, and the SoS has power to intervene if the conditions of a Business Rate Supplement are breached. (2 July 2009)

DCLG: The transitional arrangements for the non-domestic rating revaluation 2010 in England: the next business rates revaluation takes effect from 1 April 2010. The purpose of the revaluation is to maintain fairness by ensuring rateable values are based upon up to date rental values. The revaluation does not raise extra revenue but some rate bills will rise and some will fall. This consultation paper seeks views on a £2bn transitional relief scheme that will limit and phase in increases to rate bills resulting from the revaluation, to support the minority of businesses who could see their rates increase. Comments are required by 23 September 2009. (8 July 2009)

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

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Regulatory Services

LBRO: Better local regulation - Supporting businesses towards recovery: guidance on how councils can harness the potential of their regulatory services to support businesses through the recession and beyond. The better regulation principles are at the heart of the advice and guidance, with case studies demonstrating how councils and their partners can further embed these principles through locally-agreed recovery plans. Recommended approaches to developing regulatory services include: adopting a continuous improvement culture; maximising use of resources; and creating better outcomes through local, regional and national partnerships and greater collaboration. (30 June 2009)

HSE: Statement of commitment between HSE and local authority representative bodies: this joint statement sets out the commitment to improved standards of partnership working to prevent the death, injury and ill health of those at work and those affected by work activities. (1 July 2009)

DBIS: A better deal for consumers: delivering real help now and change for the future: this Consumer White Paper sets out the Government's policy to help pull the country out of recession by giving people more confidence in buying goods and services. The White Paper includes:

  • new powers for the courts to ban persistent rogue traders;
  • a new national specialist team for internet enforcement to tackle scams which con consumers on the internet;
  • new money for a central ‘fighting fund’ to tackle rogue traders operating on a large scale; and
  • a pilot scheme giving Trading Standards officers powers to help consumers get money back.

It heralds a potentially major shift in how councils can help consumers achieve redress. A key initiative would see LBRO working with DBIS on compensation pilots within councils, developing the approach to awarding local authorities the powers to apply alternative sanctions such as restorative justice. Councils would be considered for the new powers based on how they demonstrate the better regulation principles, in line with the Excellence Standard currently being developed by LBRO with its World Class Coalition partners. (2 July 2009)

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

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Standards

Standards Board for England: Joint standards committee guidance: guidance on the establishment of joint standards committees (JSCs) under the Standards Committee (Further Provisions) (England) Regulations 2009. It discusses three model structures for JSCs, and includes sections on the composition, setting up and operation of JSCs. (26 June 2009)

Standards Board for England: Dispensations: guidance on granting dispensations for members under the Standards Committee (Further Provisions) (England) Regulations 2009, allowing them to speak and vote at a meeting when they have a prejudicial interest. (26 June 2009)

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

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Structural Change

DCLG: The Secretary of State's approach to decisions in relation to proposals for unitary structures in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk: this letter to local authorities in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk sets out the approach that the SoS intends to adopt after 15 July 2009 for taking statutory decisions in relation to any proposals received by him for unitary local government in those areas. (30 June 2009)

Forest Heath DC v The Electoral Commission; Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Interested Party) [2009] EWHC 1682 (Admin) (Admin Ct)three district councils applied for judicial review of proposals to reorganise the structure of local government in Suffolk into a unitary system.  Although they did not contest the principle of a change to a unitary system, they claimed that  their proposal for an ‘East/West/Ipswich split’ had not been considered, and was not being considered, fairly. They contended that because their proposal was omitted from the Boundary Committee's Draft Proposal for Suffolk, they had been denied the opportunity for proper consultation on that approach. The court held that  the Boundary Committee should have discussed with the councils any reservations it had about whether the concepts advanced met the SoS’s criteria before publishing the draft proposals in July 2008 and also in March this year.  The councils were prima facie entitled to the relief they seek but the judge would consider written representations from the Secretary of State before determining the precise terms of the relief to be granted. (10 July 2009)

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

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Vetting and Barring

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1548): these regulations, which come into force on 12 October 2009, prescribe what is a welfare service whose recipients will be vulnerable adults for the purposes of s.59(1)(g) of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. They also prescribe the circumstances in which driving a vehicle will be a regulated activity under that Act. It will be an offence for an individual to drive a vehicle in the prescribed circumstances or to provide the prescribed welfare service, and for anyone to use an individual to provide the transport or welfare services as prescribed, if the individual is barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority from engaging in regulated activity with children or vulnerable adults. (26 June 2009)

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

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