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 to8 October 2010. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

08/10/2010

Claire Booth

Claire Booth

Professional Support Lawyer

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     Health and Social Care
   Audit    Housing
   Children's Services     Procurement
   Community Engagement    Publicity
   Education    Standards
   Efficiency and Finance    Wales
   Equality   
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme

 

Adult Social Services

LGO: New complaints service launched for 'self-funded' adult social care: highlights new powers introduced by the Health Act 2009 from 1 October 2010 that enable the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate complaints from people who arrange their own care. This means that adults who arrange and pay for their own care, or have a personalised budget, will have the same access to the LGO's independent complaints service as those people who have had their care arranged and funded by local authorities. (4 October 2010)

CQC: Nearly 1,000 care homes are without a registered manager, says regulator: reports that  nearly 1,000 residential care homes do not have an appropriately experienced and qualified registered manager in place, despite this being a requirement of the new Health and Social Care Act 2008 from 1 October 2010. CQC will use its enforcement powers where necessary; these include issuing a warning notice, carrying out a prosecution, and suspending or closing a service. (8 October 2010)

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

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Audit

Audit Commission: The future of local audit - issues for consideration: sets out the issues that, in the Commission's opinion, need to be considered in developing the new framework for local audit, following the Secretary of State's announcement of plans to disband the Audit Commission. The paper is based on an analysis of current statutory provisions and the Commission's practical experience of running the existing system. (30 September 2010)

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

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Children's Services

MoJ: Reducing unnecessary delay in care and supervision proceedings: a new system-wide approach to reducing delay in care proceedings came into force on 1 April 2010. This guidance is intended to assist practitioners and front line managers working in Her Majesty’s Courts Service, local authorities, Cafcass, and the Legal Services Commission in their joint efforts to reduce unnecessary delay in care and supervision proceedings. It proposes a basic operating framework which local performance improvement groups can adapt and build on, including a set of core performance measures which groups may wish to use to inform their monitoring and improvement action. It also sets out the support which will be available to them at national level, including the provision of relevant quarterly data and help in capturing and sharing best practice. (1 October 2010)

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

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Community Engagement

LG Improvement & Development: Integrating community empowerment with service delivery: pointers to good practice: this guide aims to help councils apply the lessons they learn from community engagement to deliver services that respond more effectively to people’s needs. It shows how some councils are using information from community engagement to inform the ways services are planned and delivered, with examples of the range of approaches that councils have used and some pointers to success.The guide echoes current 'Big Society' themes. (5 October 2010)

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

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Education

LGA: £15billion cost of a decent school place for every child: summarises the findings of an LGA / ADSS survey on education and children's services capital needs that asked respondents about their capital needs over the four years of the Spending Review and how much of that capital spending was necessary to meet statutory requirements, such as to provide school places and maintain health and safety. The findings show that £15bn capital investment is the absolute minimum councils need between now and 2015 to ensure every child can be taught in a classroom which is safe and structurally sound. Nearly £5bn is considered essential for the next financial year, 2011-12. The LGA has previously estimated that £203m has been spent by councils on cancelled BSF projects. (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 and Finance

LGA: Spending Review briefing 2010: the LGA has already set out how the Government can cut £4.5bn from public expenditure by making immediate administrative changes and relieving the central controls that Whitehall imposes on local authorities. This briefing summarises the LGA's key messages regarding the Spending Review and councils' proposals to release major efficiencies and deliver realistic savings. (16 September 2010)

LGA: Funding and planning for infrastructure: this paper sets out the LGA’s proposals on how to maintain investment in vital infrastructure with less public money. It proposes localising accountability for decisions about what infrastructure to provide and how to fund it. It calls on Ministers to set up a new system of tax-free municipal bonds to allow vital long term investment in roads and other major projects to continue without driving up the deficit, and says that councils should be able to retain money raised by development locally through the localisation of business rates, Tax Increment Financing, local development tariffs and reform of the council house finance system. It states that there is also enormous scope to put public sector equity investment to work to deliver better value for money for the taxpayer by making greater use of new and more flexible partnership models to package different developments together in an attractive investment offer (17 September 2010)

LG Improvement & Development: YouChoose - participatory budgeting tool: this online web application lets residents see exactly how councils spend their money and invites them to suggest ways of shaving millions of pounds off their local authority’s annual spend. The YouChoose software shows them the direct impact their spending choices would have on local services and the knock-on effect on council tax rates. There is also a guide to the budgeting tool. The software was pioneered by Redbridge LBC, which is currently running a Budget consultation called the Redbridge Conversation 2010. LG I&D, part of the Local Government Group, is offering councils free use of the software which will be individually tailored by each of the councils taking part. (24 September 2010)

LGA: Local budgets - building the Big Society from the neighbourhood up: this paper sets out a detailed roadmap for reform, outlining the LGA's proposals on how the Government can save billions of pounds by handing power to local people. It argues that local decision-making and accountability for frontline services through a system of local budgets can improve public services while cutting costs. (1 October 2010)

Local Government Group: Transparency programme consultation: seeks views on two draft practical guides to publishing data. Practitioners' guide to publishing local spending data takes forward local authorities' commitment to publish items of spending over £500 including tenders, contracts and the actual payments by January 2011, while Practitioners' guide to publishing senior salary information takes forward requirements for local authorities to publish data on senior management salaries from by January 2011. Both guides stress the importance of ensuring that the data is clear, comprehensible, machine readable, licensed to encourage reuse and easily accessible so that local people know it's available. The consultation closes on 19 October 2010. (5 October 2010) 

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

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Equality

EHRC: Commission statement on the implementation of the Equality Act 2010: information on the 2010 Act, which came into force on 1 October, and the Commission's role. (1 October 2010)
The Commission has produced a large amount of guidance on the Act, including:

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

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Health and Social Care

DWP: Partnerships with local authorities and health agencies: presents the key findings of research into existing partnership arrangements specifically with local authorities and local health organisations, as key partner agencies, that aimed to identify factors that would assist in the development of partnership arrangements with a view to producing a detailed action plan for progressing partnership arrangements with these two key groups of partners. (30 September 2010)

LGA: Equity and excellence - liberating the NHS: Local Government group response: sets out the LGA's submission to the Government on the Health White Paper. Its key message is that it feels local authorities are ideally placed to take the pressure off GPs in the health care reforms by ensuring vulnerable children, dementia sufferers, people with learning difficulties and the homeless get the services they need. It calls for town halls to play a key role in commissioning services, particularly in the areas in which they have expertise. (5 October 2010)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Grant Shapps outlines plans for new council housing deal: announces plans to replace the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy system with a new, more transparent system that devolves greater power to councils to better meet the housing needs of their local communities. This delivers a commitment in the Coalition Agreement. Under the proposed new rules, councils would keep all the rents and sales receipts they collect, but would also take on additional housing debt. Details of the new system will be announced as part of the Spending Review on 20 October and will be introduced as part of the Localism Bill being introduced this autumn. (5 October 2010)

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

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Procurement

OGC: Procurement Policy Note - New guidance on implementing requirements for greater transparency in central Government procurement and contracting: sets out the Government's commitments on implementing requirements for greater transparency in central government procurement and contracting. These requirements apply to all central government departments including their agencies, all non-departmental public bodies, NHS bodies and trading funds. Separate requirements are in place for the wider public sector such as local authorities. (10 September 2010)

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

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Publicity

DCLG: Code of recommended practice on local authority publicity: seeks view on a new Publicity Code that authorities have to have regard to. The proposed new Code will be underpinned by seven guiding principles so that council publicity is lawful, cost effective, objective, even handed and appropriate, and that it has regard to equality and diversity and is issued with care during periods of heightened sensitivity. The draft Code also contains specific guidance on the frequency, content and appearance of local authority newspapers or magazines, and prohibits the use of lobbyists where the expenditure is intended to influence local people on political issues. The consultation closes on 10 November 2010.  (29 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

Planning Advisory Services: Councillor briefings - probity: covers positive engagement in planning applications and policy making, avoiding the pitfalls, personal and prejudicial interests, lobbying and pre-application involvement. (28 September 2010)

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

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Wales

National Assembly: Playing Fields (Community Involvement in Disposal Decisions) (Wales) Measure: this draft Measure, which was proposed by Dai Lloyd AM, has completed its progress through the National Assembly and has been approved. The aims of the Measure is to ensure that Welsh local authorities consider the impact that selling off local authority owned playing fields would have on local communities, in terms of health, well-being and social inclusion, before proceeding with the sale or disposal. it does this by imposing a duty on local authorities (including National Parks and community councils) to prepare and consult on impact statements when they propose to dispose of playing fields. The Measure is now awaiting approval from the Privy Council before becoming law. (6 October 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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