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 to3 June 2011. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

03/06/2011

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    Education
   Audit    Efficiency
   Children's Services    Elections
   Community Engagement    Employment
   Economic Development    Police Authorities

 

Adult Social Care

ADASS: Southern Cross plc - Social care directors call for calm: reports on action that ADASS has been taking regarding nursing homes run by Southern Cross in light of concerns raised regarding the company's financial viability and its treatment of residents. (28 May 2011)

Audit Commission: Improving value for money in adult social care: this briefing is the first in a planned series that looks at value for money in health and social care. The briefing finds that councils are changing their approach to providing adult social care to make services more efficient. As demographic change and financial pressures combine to create tough times for adult social care, councils have looked at many aspects of the service in order to provide better, more efficient services. Better procurement, improved back office arrangements, and a preference for community based rather than residential care where possible, are just some of the changes that local authorities have implemented to help them meet the challenges they face. But the briefing also finds that the pace and scale of change need to increase if councils want to release material savings, as well as improve care for people. (2 June 2011)

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

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Audit

DCLG: Developing options for the most effective transfer of the Audit Commission: reports that DCLG Permanent Secretary Sir Bob Kerslake has written to all local authority Chief Executives to update them on progress with the Government's plans to disband the Audit Commission. His letter states that Ministers' initial view, pending the results of the current consultation, is that the best value for money option is to outsource all the audits currently undertaken by the in-house practice to the private sector. In order to ensure that progress can be maintained, Ministers have asked the Audit Commission to begin substantive preparatory work for outsourcing the 2012/13 audits. (2 June 2011)

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

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Children's Services

HMIP: The care of looked after children in custody: gives information on the care of looked-after children aged 15 to 18 in Young Offender Institutions. It examines the experience of these children, using survey data and in-depth interviews. (26 May 2011)

DH: Improving health services for vulnerable children and young people: announces that responsibility for commissioning health services for children and young people in Secure Children’s Homes and Secure Training Centres is to pass to the NHS, bringing it into in line with that for Young Offender Institutions. (27 May 2011)

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

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Community Engagement

Planning Advisory Service: Neighbourhood planning - a guide for ward councillors: explains the basics of the neighbourhood planning provisions in the Localism Bill. The provisions will enable communities to get more involved in planning for their areas, specifically around creating plans and policies to guide new development and in some cases granting planning permission for certain types of development. (24 May 2011)

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

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Economic Development

City Finance Commission: Setting cities free – Releasing the potential of cities to drive growth: this report, commissioned by Birmingham, Manchester and Westminster City Councils, calls for England’s largest cities to be handed significant autonomy over business rates income and a raft of budgets currently controlled by ministers to help them drive growth. It recommends Total Place-style pooled budget arrangements and proposes plans for how business rates could be localised in a way which would incentivise economic development. The report will be submitted to the Government's Local Government Resource Review that is expected to report in the summer. (23 May 2011)

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

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Education

DfE: Proposed changes to performance management and capability arrangements for teachers: seeks views on proposed changes to the current system for teachers' performance management as set out in the Education (School Teacher Performance Management) (England) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/2661), and also the capability procedure requirements in the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/2680). The proposals aim to remove existing complexity, overlap and duplication and so make it easier for schools to manage teachers and deal effectively with the small number of poorly performing teachers. The consultation closes on 16 August 2011. (24 May 2011)

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

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Efficiency

Audit Commission: Going the distance – Achieving better value for money in road maintenance: this report looks at the challenges faced by England’s 152 council highways authorities. It states that between them, council highways authorities are responsible for 98% of the country's roads, spending a total of £2.3bn in 2009/10, yet in response to increasing financial pressure on councils, highways budgets are facing significant cuts. The Commission found that the cost of maintaining roads is now 50% higher than it was ten years ago, in part due to inflation in road materials and construction costs. The report highlights how councils can get more for their money, including cost-saving collaborations with neighbours, asset management to show when road maintenance will be most effective, new ways of keeping residents informed, and weighing short-term repairs against long-term resilience. It includes a series of case studies which demonstrate how some councils have developed strategies that balance growing service demands with reducing resources. (26 May 2011)

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

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Elections

Cabinet Office: Pilots to make electoral register more accurate and complete: announces the launch of pilot exercises across the country aimed at improving rates of electoral registration and tackling electoral fraud. In 22 selected local authorities, Electoral Registration Officers will have access to existing databases held by public authorities and will be able to compare names, dates of birth and addresses for the purposes of the pilot only. No new databases will be created and robust arrangements will be put in place to ensure that all data is stored and handled securely. (24 May 2011)

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

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Employment

R (Shoesmith) v Ofsted [2011] EWCA Civ 642 (CA): S was summarily dismissed by H LBC from her post as Director of Children's Services, after the death of a child who was on the council's child protection register. Ofsted produced a report indicating that H LBC's Children's Services were inadequate and that there were systemic management failures. In consequence, the Secretary of State (SoS) directed the appointment of another named individual to S's post, using his powers under s.497A Education Act 1996. The court dismissed S's application for judicial review, holding that regarding the SoS's direction, the right of an individual to be treated fairly had to assume a lower profile than the need to take a decision in the wider public interest of child safeguarding. It also stated that the Employment Tribunal was the appropriate venue for determining the issue of the fairness or otherwise of S's dismissal.
The Court of Appeal held, allowing S's appeals against H LBC and the SoS but dismissing her appeal against Ofsted, that H LBC's decision to dismiss for gross misconduct was amenable to judicial review, whatever alternative remedy might be available in the employment tribunal. The dismissal was unreasonable as S was entitled to be treated lawfully and fairly and not simply and summarily scapegoated. The matter would be remitted on the issue of compensation. The procedure leading to the SoS's direction was intrinsically unfair. Despite a degree of urgency, allowing her to answer the charge would have entailed only a modest delay. Accountability required giving the accountable individual an opportunity to explain and the fact of S's "accountability" was not such as to disentitle her to elementary fairness. However, Ofsted's report was carried out lawfully and in good faith, having regard to the unique nature of the inspection. (27 May 2011)

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

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Police Authorities

LGA: Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill - House of Lords Committee stage briefings: this page links to a series of briefings on individual parts of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill with particular relevance to local government, as it passes through the House of Lords Committee stage. Isues covered include: the Police Commission model (which LGA is supporting to replace directly elected Commissioners); Police and Crime Panels; piloting Police and Crime Commissioners; suspending a Commissioner; Deputy Commissioners; and Community Safety Partnerships. (19 May 2011)

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

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