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 thetwo weeksup to24 September 2010. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

24/09/2010

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    Finance
   Bribery and Corruption    Fire and Rescue Authorities
   Byelaws     Housing
   Children's Services     Markets
   Education    Standards
   Efficiency    Transport
   Equality    Wales 
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

 

Adult Social Services

DH: The Government response to Law Commission consultation paper 192 - Review of the law on adult social care: sets out the Government's response to the Law Commission's consultation on adult social care (February 2010) which contained detailed proposals for law reform. The Government agrees with the Law Commission that the legislative framework for social care is outdated and needs modernising. This document sets out the Government’s response to the consultation questions. It states that it will need to look closely at how the Law Commission’s final recommendations are implemented and any legislation to take forward reform will need to be set in the wider policy context. In particular, this will include the recommendations of the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support, but also the Government’s commitment to greater local flexibilities and the localism agenda. (14 September 2010)

Community Care, Services for Carers and Children's Services (Direct Payments) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2246): these regulations, which come into force on 29 October 2010, amend SI 2009/1887 regarding the making of direct payments to a person to secure the provision of certain social care services. The regulations remove the requirement for local authorities to carry out a financial assessment when determining what amount is reasonably practicable for a direct payment recipient to pay towards securing the provision of residential accommodation. (14 September 2010)

Improvement Network: Finance Improvement Tool - Self-assessment questions and answers: tackling the financial challenge for councils of an ageing population: this tool is designed to help councils assess their approach to the financial challenges of an ageing population and identify scope for improvement. It is designed for use by directors of finance, council lead officers on older people or the ageing society, heads of services and commissioners. It has been developed has been developed from the Audit Commission national report Under Pressure: Tackling the Financial Challenge for Councils of an Ageing Population (February 2010). (16 September 2010)

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

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Bribery and Corruption

MoJ: Guidance about commercial organisations preventing bribery (section 9 of the Bribery Act 2010): s.7 of the Bribery Act 2010, which will come into force in April 2011, creates a new offence for commercial organisations of failure to prevent persons associated with them from committing bribery on their behalf. It is a defence for an organisation to prove that it had adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with it from committing bribery offences. Section 9 of the Act requires the Secretary of State to publish guidance about procedures which commercial organisations can put in place to prevent persons associated with them from bribing. This consultation seeks views on draft guidance to help commercial organisations of all sizes and sectors understand what sorts of procedures they can put in place to prevent bribery from occurring within them. The consultation closes on 8 November 2010. (14 September 2010)

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

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Byelaws

DEFRA: Secretary of State’s power to confirm local nature reserve byelaws to be devolved to local authorities: announces that the Government intends to bring in legislation that will enable local authorities to make, confirm and revoke nature reserve byelaws under s.21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 without having to get the Secretary of State's approval. The new procedures will ensure that thorough consultation with the local community and interested parties will be carried out before any decisions are made. Subject to legislative timetable, local authorities will be able to use these new powers early next year. (17 September 2010)

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

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Children's Services

DH: Achieving equity and excellence for children: this discussion paper forms part of the process of engagement with the NHS White Paper, Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. It is not a policy statement or an additional consultation but draws together information from the White Paper and the associated consultation documents to create a vision of how the proposed new arrangements for the NHS could improve services for children and young people. This document begins an ongoing dialogue on how to ensure high-quality services for children and young people. The DH welcomes views on how to achieve the best outcomes for children, young people and families. (16 September 2010)

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

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Education

Ofsted: The special educational needs and disability review: this review was commissioned to evaluate how well the legislative framework and arrangements served children and young people who had special educational needs and/or disabilities. It reveals a range of concerns about the current system and how well it is serving children and young people. (14 September 2010)

Ofsted: Protocol on the inspection of schools with a religious character in England: updated protocol on the inspection of schools subject to inspection under both s.5 and s.48 of the Education Act 2005. (13 September 2010)

DfE: Education Secretary Michael Gove sets out the next stage in a programme of reducing bureaucracy: the Government has asked Ofsted to remove the school Self Evaluation Form (SEF) process which required  teachers and heads to collect and verify facts and figures about their school in preparation for their Ofsted inspection. Headteachers, and also teachers and governors, will now be able to use their own approaches to reviewing the performance of their schools. (23 September 2010)

Dfe: Education Secretary Michael Gove announces review of music education: announces the launch of an independent review of music education, led by Darren Henley, Managing Director of Classic FM. The review will look at how the funding available for music education can most effectively be used to secure the best music education for all children and young people. The review has issued a call for evidence. Submissions must be made by 29 October 2010. (24 September 2010)

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

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Efficiency

LG Improvement & Development: YouChoose participatory budgeting tool: LGI&D has published an online budget simulator "YouChoose" that encourages members of the public to consider where council budget cuts should fall, where efficiencies might be made, and where income might be generated. The tool was originally developed by Redbridge LBC to engage its citizens in the difficult decisions that may arise from a substantial potential reduction to its budget. The Local Government Group and YouGov have made YouChoose available free to all councils in England and Wales to help them engage their citizens in decisions about how they spend their revenue budgets and help their citizens understand the tough choices the council faces. (22 September 2010)

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

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Equality

DfT: Equality Act 2010 - Guidance notes on taxis and private hire vehicles: guidance for licensing authorities on ss.160 - 173 of the Equality Act 2010 which relate specifically to taxis and private hire vehicles. It focuses on the provisions that come into force on 1 October 2010 regarding the duties to give assistance to people in wheelchairs and to carry guide dogs. (15 September 2010)

Equality Act 2010 (General Qualifications Bodies) (Appropriate Regulator and Relevant Qualifications) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2245): s.96 of the Equality Act 2010 requires qualifications bodies not to discriminate, and to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in relation to relevant qualifications that they may confer. Section 9 also allows an appropriate regulator to specify provisions, criteria and practices which are not subject to the duty to make reasonable adjustments, and those which are subject to the duty but in relation to which specified reasonable adjustments that should not be made. The regulator must publish this information. These regulations, which come into force on 1 October 2010, prescribe the relevant qualifications, prescribe the appropriate regulator and specify where an appropriate regulator must publish the information on reasonable adjustments. (10 September 2010)

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

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Finance

DCLG: Local government expenditure over £500: this web page provides links to details of expenditure over £500 that has been uploaded by some local authorities following DCLG's call for councils to provide financial transparency by publishing spending information over £500 online by January 2011. The page also links to information on arm's length bodies' spending data 2009-10 and CLG's transparency in government. (17 September 2010)

HM Treasury: More financial freedoms for local authorities: announces that the Government is to grant English local authorities new borrowing powers aimed at driving local investment and economic growth. The proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) will enable local authorities to borrow against future additional uplift within their business rates base, and to manage the costs and risk of this borrowing alongside wider borrowing under the prudential code. This borrowing will be used to fund key infrastructure and other capital projects, which will support locally driven economic development and growth. More information on how TIF will operate and on the timeline for introducing legislation will be set out in the Government’s White Paper on sub-national growth, around the time of the Spending Review. (20 September 2010)

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

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Fire and Rescue Authorities

Audit Commission: Business continuity management in the fire and rescue service: fire and rescue services have a duty to be able to provide services in any circumstances under the Fire and Rescue Service Act 2004, Civil Contingencies Act 2004, and the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008. This report looks at how well fire and rescue services plan and practise to make sure their work can continue despite disruptions such as bad weather, staff illness, industrial action, communication problems or power failure. The study concludes that fire and rescue services are planning satisfactorily but could further improve business continuity. It finds that most fire and rescue services have satisfactory flexible plans in place to cover short-term disruptions; however, the greatest public risk would be caused by any major disruption which affected several fire service areas, or the whole of England, especially if this continued over a long time. Such disruption would severely test continuity plans in making both staff and equipment available. (15 September 2010)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Communities should prepare for their right to build: announces that the new Community Right to Build will be included in the forthcoming Localism Bill, to be introduced later this autumn. The new Right to Build will enable local rural housing projects that secure the support of 75 per cent of voters in a local referendum to proceed without the need for a specific application for planning permission. (22 September 2010)

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

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Markets

DCLG: Retail markets - a good practice guide: highlights the benefits of traditional markets and notes areas of good practice. It shows how markets can help to build the 'Big Society' by bringing people and communities together at economic and social hubs. The report gives examples of markets strengthening the local economy and offering opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. (13 September 2010)

DCLG: Market management report: although over half of all retail markets are operated by local authorities, there are a number of different models in use across the UK. This report examines the advantages and disadvantages of various ways in which markets can be managed so authorities and private operators can see which is the best model for them. (13 September 2010)

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

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Standards

DCLG: Corrupt councillors will go to court not Standards committees: gives some details of how the Government intends to reform the Standards Board regime. It confirms that the forthcoming Localism Bill will abolish the whole Standards Board regime including the Code of Conduct, standards committees and the Standards Board; however, councillors will still have to conform to the highest standards of conduct. The Bill will give the Local Government Ombudsman powers to investigate councillors' incompetence, and local authorities will be legally compelled to implement the Ombudsman's findings. Councillors will be able to campaign and vote freely on their issues but will have to register certain personal interests in a public register, and failure to register an interest, or deliberately seeking to mislead the public about an interest, will be made a criminal offence. (20 September 2010)

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

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Transport

LGA: The future of bus subsidy: this report proposes replacing the whole subsidy package with a single stream of public subsidy for bus services. That pot should be devolved to local transport authorities who would be empowered to commission bus services from providers at the local level. Concessionary fares schemes could be purchased under such a model as part of a total funding package. Local authorities should be able to impose conditions on the public money which is provided to support bus services, e.g. depending on their local situation, councils could agree with bus companies to protect existing routes, insist on the creation of new routes or offer reduced fares to job seekers. (15 September 2010)

DfT: Government announces plans for new transport fund: announces that the Govenrment is to launch a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund that will help local transport authorities outside London to develop packages of measures that support economic growth and reduce carbon in their communities as well as delivering cleaner environments, improved safety and increased levels of physical activity. Details about the new Fund, including the resources available and how it will operate, will be announced later in the year. The Government also intends to pool the centrally funded local transport grants to create fewer but larger funding streams which are largely formula based. (22 September 2010)

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

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Wales

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 (Commencement No. 2, Transitional Provisions and Savings) (Amendment) Order 2010 (SI 2010/2237 (W.106) (C.111)): the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 reforms the statutory basis of service improvement and strategic planning by local authorities in Wales. Certain provisions of the Measure have been brought into force by the No.2 Order (SI 2009/3272 (W.288) (C.145)), which contains savings provisions that save certain provisions of Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1999 so as to enable Welsh best value authorities to prepare best value performance plans for the financial year 2009-2010 and to enable the Auditor General for Wales to carry out inspections of compliance by those authorities with the requirements of Part 1 of the 1999 Act in the financial year 2009-2010. This Order clarifies, for the avoidance of doubt, the savings provisions contained in art.3(3)(a) and (4) in the No.2 Order. (8 September 2010)

National Assembly for Wales Children and Young People Committee: Further review of developments in the provision of advocacy services to children and young people in Wales: this report critically examines the Weslh Government's implementation of its strategy for children’s advocacy services in Wales. It states that despite the Welsh Government announcing a new framework for the services in 2008, its rollout has been slow and inconsistent. A key concern of the Committee is that there is currently no independent advocacy service available for young people to access when they need their voices to be heard. The report follows two previous inquiries carried out by the Committee into advocacy services in Wales, which both set out recommendations to aid the development of a progressive strategy. However, the Committee found that little has changed over the past two years and that a sense of urgency is needed to progress. (23 September 2010)

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

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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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