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    Fire and Rescue Authorities
   Children's Services    Governance
   Community Rights    Licensing
   Education    Localism
   Elections    Planning Policy
   Equality and Discrimination    Police Authorities
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme 


Adult Social Services

NAO: Oversight of user choice and provider competition in care markets: this report examines the oversight of user choice and provider competition, where care users receive state funding as a personal budget (including direct payments) or using their own funds (self-funders). It also evaluates the arrangements in place for building market oversight capability. It does not look at publicly-funded care where the local authority purchases care, nor does it examine the value for money of individual institutions’ performance, such as individual local authorities or the Care Quality Commission or local authority commissioning where users do not receive a personal budget or a direct payment. (15 September 2011)

Chartered Insurance Institute: Who cares? The implications of a new partnership to fund long-term care: provides insight into the likely implications of the Dilnot Commission's findings on both the public’s experience of the care system and the role of the private sector in providing advice and funding solutions. The report identifies the key issues and sets out their implications. It then presents contributions from key players in the debate looking at the main relationships between the care funding model, the market for care products and services and the drivers of consumer awareness and engagement. It also discusses the current political climate for reform. (19 September 2011)

DH: HealthWatch for local authorities: Strengthening people's voices in health and adult social care (No decision about us ... without us): this short paper has been co-produced by colleagues in NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent and local authority representatives. It aims to help local authorities in their planning for the establishment of a local HealthWatch, by setting out the issues they need to consider and providing links to additional information. (21 September 2011) 

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

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Children's Services 

Ofsted: Good practice by Local Safeguarding Children Boards: this report builds on and extends previous research into the functioning of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) by analysing how boards are implementing improvements and assessing how they are beginning to develop methods to measure their impact. It  provides practical examples and detailed case studies of how LSCBs have helped to improve child protection. (15 September 2011)

DfE: Financial reports on local authority planned budgets for their education and children's social care functions - 2011-12 (section 251 formerly s.52): local authorities are required under s.251 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 to prepare and submit an education and children's social care budget statement before the start of each financial year. This page provides statistics that give a detailed picture of local authority planned expenditure for education and children's social care for 2011-12. 
See also DfE: Benchmarking tables of local authority planned expenditure 2011-12 which gives information on each local authority's planned expenditure on education in a form which enables comparison between authorities. (15 September 2011)

Children's Workforce Development Council: A summative report on the qualitative evaluation on the eleven Remodelling Social Work Pilots 2008-11: the Social Work Remodelling Project was a pilot programme developed to allow authorities to explore different ways of delivering social work practice. The 11 pilot authorities tested new approaches to organising and delivering children and family social work so that: the expertise of staff could be used more widely; children’s social work could be delivered as part of integrated services; social workers could spend more time on direct work with clients, contributing to prevention; and bureaucracy could be reduced for social work staff. This research report looks at whether the project met its objectives, if the promised services had been provided, and the impact of these services in terms of the extent to which the programme had led to the desired changes. (20 September 2011)

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

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Community Rights

DCLG: Assets of Community Value - policy statement: this statement seeks to address some of the issues raised during consideration of the Community Assets provisions in the Localism Bill at Lords Committee stage. It also sets out the way forward on the issues following the consultation on which ended on 3 May 2011. The statement explains the Government’s intentions, both for amending the Bill and for the further detail that will be in regulations. The Government intends to lay regulations as soon as possible after the Bill receives Royal Assent, based on what is set out in this statement. (12 September 2011)

DCLG: Community Right to Challenge - policy statement: seek to address some of the issues raised during consideration of the provisions at Lords Committee Stage of the Localism Bill. It also set out the way forward on the detail of how the Right will work, in light of responses to the consultation earlier this year. (12 September 2011)

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

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DfE: Funding for deprived pupils set to double: announces that the total funding available for the Pupil Premium will be £1.25bn in 2012-13 (a rise from £625m in 2011-12) and will rise again each year until 2014-15 when it will be worth £2.5bn. The Pupil Premium is in addition to main school funding provided through Dedicated Schools Grant and is targeted at pupils from low income families who generally do not achieve as well as pupils from more advantaged backgrounds. The Government will announce in due course per pupil allocations and how the Pupil Premium will be distributed in 2012-13. (19 September 2011)

DfE: 20 pathfinders to test out proposals in the special educational needs and disabilities Green Paper: announces the 20 pathfinders, covering 31 local authorities and their PCT partners, who will  test core elements of reform to the SEN system such as personal budgets, partnership working, improved commissioning, and the role of voluntary and community organisations. (21 September 2011)

DfE: £50 million to help pupils get ready for secondary school: announces a new £50m pupil premium summer school programme to help the most disadvantaged pupils make the transition from primary to secondary school. The scheme will be available for all pupils eligible for free school meals who are making the transition between primary and secondary school in September 2012, enabling them to benefit from two weeks of additional teaching. (21 September 2011)

Ofsted: Involvement strategy 2011-15: sets out how Ofsted will encourage and promote the involvement of the people who use the services it inspects, as a driver for improvement in the services and in how Ofsted works as an organisation. (21 September 2011)

DfE: Proposed changes to allow qualified teachers from further education and from the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to become permanent teachers in English schools: seeks views on changes to the qualifications regulations and induction regulations for teachers in England so as to give qualified teacher status to QTLS holders and fully qualified teachers from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The consultation closes on 16 December 2011. (22 September 2011)

Ofsted: Leadership of more than one school: this survey evaluates the impact on provision and outcomes for pupils where leadership responsibility is shared between federated schools. It looks in particular at a sample of schools that are in federations which have one governing body and, in the majority of cases, share a headteacher or an executive headteacher. It also considers the path taken by schools that make the decision to federate and to share leadership in this way. The survey shows that there was an improvement in outcomes in all the federations visited and in each case, federation contributed to this. The report recommends that schools entering a federation should make sure there is a sharp focus on the benefits to pupils’ education. (22 September 2011)

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

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Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011: this Act, which came into force on 15 September 2011 provides for parliamentary General Elections to be held every five years on the first Thursday in May. The next General Election is scheduled to take place on 7 May 2015. (15 September 2011)

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Equality and Discrimination

Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/2260): these regulations, which came into force on 10 September 2011, impose duties on specified public authorities so as to facilitate the better performance of their Public Sector Equality Duty under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010. The listed bodies include local authorities. The regulations require those authorities to prepare and publish objectives, setting out what they intend to achieve in order to further the aims of the duty, and to publish information demonstrating their compliance with the duty. The information must be published by 31 January 2012 (6 April 2012 for educational establishments) and then annually; the equality objectives must be published by 6 April 2012 and then every four years. (9 September 2011)

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Hidden in plain sight - inquiry into disability-related harassment: final report of the EHRC's inquiry into disability-related harassment. It uncovers that harassment is a commonplace experience for disabled people, but a culture of disbelief and systemic institutional failures are preventing it from being tackled effectively. The report sets out the serious and systemic failings in the way that public authorities have dealt with disability harassment, including a detailed examination of ten cases of severe abuse, nine of which resulted in the death of the victim. The Commission’s investigation found that some public bodies were aware of earlier incidents of harassment, but had taken little action to bring it to an end and there was often a failure to share information. In five of the ten cases, no serious case review has been conducted. (12 September 2011)

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

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HM Treasury: Reduction in the Public Works Loan Board interest rate for borrowing for self-financing: announces that the PWLB interest rate for local authorities will be reduced temporarily from January 2012. The reduced rate will apply to Housing Revenue Account reform loans taken with the PWLB from January 2012 until close of business on 26 March 2012, to enable local authorities to finance the one-off payments needed to leave the existing HRA system and become self-financing. (19 September 2011)

DCLG: Communities in the driving seat - A study of participatory budgeting in England: Final report: this report considers participatory budgeting, which involves local people in making decisions on the spending priorities for a defined public budget. It looks at the costs of the participatory processes, what works in the operation of participatory processes and the results achieved by the process. (22 September 2011)

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

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Fire and Rescue Authorities

DCLG: Distribution of Fire Capital Grant: seeks views on proposals to distribute future capital grant funding using a combination of an efficiency fund, administered via a bidding process, and a pro-rata distribution using the current distribution method. It asks for feedback on bid criteria, the proportion of funding available for distribution versus the proportion of funding available to be bid against, the number of bidding rounds and sharing best practice. The consultation closes on 21 October 2011. (12 September 2011)

House of Commons Public Accounts Committee: The failure of the FiReControl project: examines the delivery and cancellation of DCLG’s project that proposed improving national resilience, efficiency and technology by replacing the control room functions of 46 local Fire and Rescue Services in England with a network of nine purpose-built regional control centres using a national computer system. The project was launched in 2004 but, following a series of delays and difficulties, was terminated in December 2010 with none of the original objectives achieved and a minimum of £469m being wasted. The report states that no one has been held to account for this project failure, one of the worst the Committee has seen for many years, and the careers of most of the senior staff responsible have carried on as if nothing had gone wrong at all and the consultants and contractor continue to work on many other government projects. DCLG now plans to spend a further £84.8m to secure the original objectives of FiReControl so that there is a co-ordinated response to national incidents. However, it is not clear how this extra spending will deliver value for money or achieve the objectives intended. (20 September 2011)

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

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Electoral Commission: Questions for referendums on local councils: the Government has consulted the Electoral Commission on a set of proposed questions to be asked at referendums in England on changing local authorities' executive arrangements. The Commission is gathering evidence on how well the proposed questions meet its guidelines. Comments on the wording of the questions must be submitted by 30 September 2011. (16 September 2011) 

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

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DCMS: Consultation on proposal to examine the deregulation of Schedule One of the Licensing Act 2003: seeks views on changes to the activities currently classed as "regulated entertainment" in Sch.1 to the 2003 Act.  The proposals will, in certain circumstances, remove the requirement for a licence in England and Wales to host a performance of a play, an exhibition of a film, an indoor sporting event, a performance of live music, any playing of recorded music, or a performance of dance. (10 September 2011)

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

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DCLG: Government response to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee's Report: Localism: the Select Committee's report on Localism (published 9 June 2011) critically examined the Government's intention to decentralise power and decision-making to communities and local agencies, and made a number of recommendations. This response to the report addresses the key themes up-front, before going on to address the Committee's specific conclusions and recommendations. It also refers, where relevant, to the Open Public Services White Paper as that has an important bearing on many of the issues raised in the report. (23 September 2011)

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

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Planning Policy

LGG / SOLACE / Planning Advisory Service: Localism and the National Planning Policy Framework - implications for local government: this booklet gives chief executives a brief overview of the significant changes to the planning system under the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the implications of the changes for local authorities. The NPPF will set out the Government’s priorities for planning in England, replacing the current raft of planning policy guidance notes and statements with one document of less than 60 pages. The final version will be published around the end of 2011 or early 2012. Local authorities will need to have a plan in place to guide development to the right place, and against which to make planning decisions. Neighbourhoods and parishes will increasingly be able to take on planning in their areas so authorities will need to work with them, managing their expectations and helping them to understand what they can and can’t do. (12 September 2011)

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

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Police Authorities

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011: this Act has received Royal Assent and comes into force on a day (or days) to be appointed. Part 1 of the Act abolishes police authorities (excluding the City of London) and replaces them with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) for each police force outside London, and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime for the Metropolitan Police. PCCs will be responsible for holding the chief constable of their police force to account for the full range of their responsibilities; the chief constable will retain responsibility for the direction and control of the police force. It also establishes Police and Crime Panels for each police area, whose role will be to advise and scrutinise the work of the PCC. In England all the councils in a force area will have to appoint a member to serve on the Police and Crime Panel for that area, while in Wales the Home Secretary will seek nominations from councils for councillors to serve on the Panels. The Act also:
  • gives communities greater say over alcohol licensing to tackle problem premises; 
  • enables a stronger local influence on licensing allowing everyone to comment on decisions; and
  • introduces a late-night levy allowing councils to charge for licences to pay for extra policing.

The LG Group has published Police and crime commissioners: a guide for councils that explains the new role, looks at the implications for partnerships of PCCs commissioning community safety services and examines the role and responsiblities of Police and Crime Panels. (15 September 2011)

House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: New landscape of policing: this report examines the Government's proposals for policing reform, focusing on the structural changes to the bodies and organisations that are intended to enable the police forces to function effectively. The Committee is deeply concerned that more than a year after the publication of the consultation paper "Policing in the 21st Century", many of the details of the Government’s proposals are still unclear. It is also concerned that the Government may not be able to meet its own timetable for introducing the changes, and urges it to issue a revised timetable as soon as possible. In particular:

  • the National Policing Improvement Agency is due to be phased out in Spring 2012 but the Government has not yet announced any definite decisions about the future of the vast majority of the functions currently performed by the Agency.  The committee recommends that it delay the phasing out of the Agency until the end of 2012;
  • the Home Office should be more active in encouraging and supporting forces to collaborate with one another;
  • the proposed new Professional Body for policing must be inclusive from the outset and not just involve officers of ACPO ranks; and
  • IT across the police service as a whole is not fit for purpose, to the detriment of the police’s ability to fulfil their basic mission of preventing crime and disorder.  The Home Office must make revolutionising police IT a top priority. 

(23 September 2011)

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

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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.

Forthcoming seminars in 2011 include:

For a list of all seminars see our new Events Programme for 2011/12. Full details, along with information on how to book a place, will be posted on our website about 6-8 weeks ahead of the scheduled date.

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