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:

   Access to Information    Legislation
   Efficiency    Procurement
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme


Access to Information

IDeA: Good practice in data sharing: this guidance highlights how shared data can contribute to tackling the challenges of worklessness. The publication sets out the obstacles to successful data sharing and how they can be overcome. It draws distinctions between different types of data sharing and the importance of personal consent. It highlights good practice and explores data sharing as partnership in action. (18 May 2010)

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

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HM Treasury: Government announces £6.2bn of savings in 2010-11 - action to cut Whitehall waste and protect schools spending: announces details of the Government's plans to cut Government spending this financial year. It includes the statement that £1.165bn of savings will be made in local government by reducing grants to local authorities to reflect their contribution to the £6.2bn. The Government will also remove the ringfences around over £1.7bn of grants to local authorities in 2010-11, to give them greater flexibility to re-shape their budgets and find savings in the areas set out above, while maintaining the quality of services to their customers. (24 May 2010)
See also DCLG's press release on the implications for local government.
The LGA has issued a response to the spending cuts.

DCLG: Working to deliver council tax freeze: the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has reaffirmed the Government's commitment to freezing council taxes. (25 May 2010)

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

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Electoral Commission: 2010 Parliamentary general election - interim report: review of problems at polling stations at close of poll on 6 May 2010: reviews why voters in some polling stations were unable to cast their vote before the 10pm deadline on 6 May. The report sets out what needs to be done to avoid a repeat of the problems two weeks ago. (20 May 2010)
Bevan Brittan LLP has produced an Alert that looks at the possible impact of these problems for both general and local elections, and what local authorities can be doing now to respond to this: Closed Polling Stations open the doors for legal action.

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

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DCLG: Eric Pickles - Secretary of State: Eric Pickles MP has been appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Grant Shapps is Local Government Minister. A full list of DCLG Ministers is on their website. (12 May 2010)

HM Government: The Coalition - our programme for government: this web page gives details of the Government's key policy plans, covering areas such as political reform, public health, schools and education, home information packs, tackling the deficit and reform of the banking system. On local government, it states that the Government will "promote decentralisation and democratic engagement, and we will end the era of top-down government by giving new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals". 
The LGA has produced a detailed briefing summarising the proposals, with commentary. 
(20 May 2010)

Queen's Speech 2010: the Government's legislative programme for the forthcoming year has been outlined in the Queen's Speech on the State Opening of Parliament. Proposed items of particular interest to local authorities include:

  • Academies Bill: enables more schools to become Academies and give them the freedoms and flexibilities they need to continue to drive up standards. All maintained schools will be able to apply to become an Academy with schools judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted being pre-approved. Primary and special schools would be able to apply to become an Academy in their own right for the first time. The Bill would automatically make all new Academies charities;
  • Decentralisation and Localism Bill: devolves greater powers to councils and neighbourhoods and gives local communities control over housing and planning decisions. It includes:
    • new powers to help save local facilities and services threatened with closure, and give communities the right to bid to take over local state-run services;
    • abolishing the Standards Board regime;
    • giving councils a general power of competence; 
    • requiring public bodies to publish online the job titles of every member of staff and the salaries and expenses of senior officials;
    • giving residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue and the power to veto excessive council tax increases;
    • greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups
    • returning decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils.
  • Education and Children Bill: gives full effect to the range of education reforms envisaged in the Coalition agreement, including giving all schools greater freedom over the curriculum; improving school accountability; taking action to tackle bureaucracy; and improving behaviour in schools;
  • Local Government Bill: will revoke structural change orders that established Exeter and Norwich as Unitary Councils from 1 April 2010 and prevent the implementation of the Suffolk unitary proposals that remain outstanding;
  • Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill: will make the police service more accountable to local people, create a dedicated Border Police Force and set out measures to tackle alcohol-related violence and disorder. Includes increased police accountability through directly elected individuals, and overhauling the Licensing Act to give local authorities and the police much stronger powers;
  • Public Bodies (Reform) Bill: will reduce the number and cost of public bodies and give Ministers the powers to abolish, merge or transfer quangos back into Departments;
  • Public health: the Government will create a new public health service led by the Department of Health, in which public health funding will be protected through ring fenced budgets. Local NHS organisations will hold the budgets and will be tasked with improving the health of their residents.  They will work closely with local authorities, voluntary organisations and local business to deliver this;
  • Public services: the Cabinet Office will work closely with other government departments to identify where social enterprise, charities and co-operatives can have an enhanced role in public services. Where appropriate, public services markets will be opened up to allow social enterprise, charities and co-operatives to bid to run public services.  Barriers to involvement will be identified and measures will be implemented. Public sector works will be given a new right to form employee-owned co-operatives and bid to take over the services they deliver;
  • Social care: the Government will establish an independent Commission on a sustainable structure of funding for long-term care to consider how to ensure responsible and sustainable funding for long-term care. It will ensure that there is a fair partnership between the state and the individual, which takes into account the vital role of families and carers.  The Commission will report within a year.

(25 May 2010)

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

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National Audit Office / Audit Commission: A review of collaborative procurement across the public sector: this review draws on Audit Commission research that was carried out during Autumn 2009. It finds that although collaborative procurement has the potential to improve value for money, the public sector procurement landscape is fragmented, with no overall governance. Consequently, public bodies are incurring unnecessary administration costs by duplicating procurement activity, and they are paying a wide range of prices for the same commodities, even within existing collaborative arrangements. It recommends that, given the size of public sector procurement spend and the potential to significantly improve value for money, public bodies should work together much more effectively than they currently do; there should also be a clear framework to coordinate public sector procurement activity. (21 May 2010)

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

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Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

Bevan Brittan has developed a well-recognised programme of training designed to assist local authorities in successfully implementing legal change. Led by key members of our local authority team, each session will clearly explain the key aspects of the law and the implications for local government. Using case studies and carefully selected complementary speakers, they will assist attendees in realising the full benefits of implementation and the dangerous pitfalls in failure to act.

The full Local Government Training Programme is available on our website. Forthcoming seminars in 2010 include:

 If you wish to attend any of these sessions please contact our Events team.

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