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:

   Children's Services    Libraries
   Education    Performance
   Equality and Discrimination    Regulatory Services
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme


Children's Services

Ofsted: Guidance for children's centres: advises on how to prepare for an Ofsted inspection. (23 August 2010)

DfE: Regulations governing fostering services, children’s homes providers and adoption and fostering panels and statutory guidance on children’s homes and fostering: seeks views on proposals to revise the Children's Homes Regulations 2001, Fostering Services Regulations 2002 and statutory guidance in England. The changes are designed to reduce delay in foster placements, streamline bureaucracy and remove overly prescriptive regulations, including proposals to reduce the size of fostering and adoption panels. It asks professionals, foster carers and those with a view on fostering to suggest further ways that the system could be improved for the benefit of children and families involved. The consultation closes on 19 November 2010.
Alongside the consultation, the Children's Minister has written to local authorities asking them to do all they can to support foster carers in making the everyday decisions about the lives of the children they look after. The default position should be that foster children should be treated to as regular a home life as possible, as if they were children with their own birth parents. (27 August 2010)

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

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Education (Pupil Registration) (Wales) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1954 (W.187)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 1 September 2010, revoke and replace, with amendments, SI 1995/2089 regarding the registration of pupils on the school's admission register and the attendance register. (3 August 2010)

Ofsted: Children missing from education: this report evaluates the effectiveness of actions taken by local authorities in relation to children and young people who are missing from education. It considers whether legislation and guidance effectively support the authorities in protecting them. The survey looked at 15 local authorities of different sizes across England, in both urban and rural areas. It found that none of the authorities felt confident that they knew about all the children living in their area in order to fulfil their duties to keep children safe. (17 August 2010)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

Government Equalities Office: Equality Act 2010: The public sector equality duty - promoting equality through transparency. The public sector equality duty has a key role in ensuring that fairness is at the heart of public bodies' work and that public services meet the needs of different groups.  The 2010 Act also gives ministers the power to impose specific duties, which are legal requirements designed to help public bodies meet their obligations under the public sector equality duty. This paper seeks views on draft regulations for the specific duties and the list of public bodies that will be subject to the general and specific duties. The consultation closes on 10 November 2010. (19 August 2010)

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Equality impact assessment quick start guide:  an equality impact assessment (EIA) is a tool that helps public authorities make sure their policies, and the ways they carry out their functions, do what they are intended to do and for everybody.  This is guide sets out  eight steps that will help an authority develop a coherent approach to carrying out effective EIAs and embedding them across the organisation. There is also detailed guidance for those in pubilc authorities with responsibility for delivering on the race, disability and gender equality duties. (25 August 2010)

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

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DCLG: Consultation on Revenue Support Grant top-slice for improvement services to local authorities: seeks views on proposals for future Revenue Support Grant (RSG) top-slice funding arrangements that would promote the ability of local government to decide how best to use the resource. Under the plans, the total grant would be unringfenced and delegated to the designated local government body to allocate to funding programmes in the best way to improve council services, build strong local leadership, meet learning and development needs, and nurture robust local economies. It asks whether the RSG top-slice funding should go to a sole specified local government body and whether that should be the LGA or LGID (formerly IDeA). The consultation closes on 6 October 2010. (25 August 2010)

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

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DCMS: First ten areas to join Future Library Programme announced: the Future Libraries Programme aims to help the library service during the current challenging financial situation, with an ambition to ensure libraries play a central role for communities in the Big Society. The LGA Group and the MLA are working together to support councils, especially where councils want to work in partnership, by introducing and brokering councils to work together and helping them to establish new delivery mechanisms to build economies of scale and sustainable critical mass. This press release announces the first 10 areas that will pilot the programme; it includes details of each area's project. For more information on the programme, see the MLA's website. (16 August 2010)

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

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Planning Advisory Service: Where does all the money go? Early report on value for money in planning: this report is part of PAS's project that aims to provide useful, comparable information about planning authorities' costs, performance and methods. It covers the initial findings on costs, processes, work volumes and how to go about making improvements. (17 August 2010)

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

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Regulatory Services

Law Commission: Criminal liability in regulatory contexts: seeks views on reducing the scope of the criminal law as a way of promoting regulatory objectives and public interest goals. It aims to create a set of guidelines on when and how criminal law should be used. The paper proposes that regulatory authorities should make more use of cost-effective, efficient and fairer civil measures to govern standards of behaviour, such as ‘stop’ notices, enforcement undertakings and fixed penalties, with a set of common principles to help agencies consider when and how to use the criminal law to tackle serious wrongdoing; also, existing low-level criminal offences should be repealed where civil penalties could be as effective. The consultation closes on 25 November 2010. (25 August 2010)

DCLG: Bureaucracy for summer fetes overruled by Eric Pickles: announces a new guide to organising a street party or fete that advises how to hold a community event in a local area. It makes clear that there are no central laws restricting councils from taking a common sense approach to administrating events, and expels the myth that councils are required by law to advertise and charge large fees for small road closures, potentially saving organisers thousands of pounds. The guide includes one simple form that communities can use to inform the local authority about their plans. (27 August 2010)

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

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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 sessions please contact our Events team.

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