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:  

   Access to Information    Finance
   Adult Social Services    Housing
   Anti-Social Behaviour    Licensing
   Children's Services    Police
   Community Rights    Powers and Duties
   Education    Public Health
   Localism Act 2011 Commencement Table 
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme


Access to Information

Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2089): these regulations, which come into force on 10 September 2012, clarify and extend the circumstances in which local authority executive decisions are to be open to the public. They provide a presumption that all meetings of the executives, their committees or subcommittees, must be held in public except in limited prescribed circumstances where meetings can be closed; they also strengthen the rights of local authority members to access information relating to business to be discussed at a public meeting, or business transacted at a private meeting, or decisions made by individuals. Additionally, they strengthen the rights of members of overview and scrutiny committees so that, where they have asked for any document that contains business transacted at a meeting or any decision made by an executive member or officer of the authority, the Executive must provide the document within 10 days after receiving the request. The regulations revoke and replace SI 2000/3272 (as amended). (15 August 2012)
See also DCLG's press release Town Hall unlocked to social media and bloggers, which summarises the changes introduced by the new regulations. (23 August 2012)

DCLG: Department now publishing all spend over £250: announces that DCLG is taking its transparency pledge to a new level by publishing all spend data over £250. Arm's Length Bodies linked to DCLG will now also be asked to follow suit as a matter of routine at the end of each month. (15 August 2012)

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

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Adult Social Services

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2112): the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 reduced the scope of regulated activity, and repealed the provisions in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 which required those who wanted to work in regulated activity to register with a central scheme and to be monitored, and made other amendments to the Independent Safeguarding Authority’s barring process. These regulations, which come into force on 10 September 2012, make a number of changes to existing regulations made under the 2006 Act that are consequential to the PoFA 2012 changes, further provides as to the definition of regulated activity, fulfils a commitment that the ISA will in certain cases be able to provide to the police the information which informed its barring consideration, and makes some other minor amendments. (16 August 2012)

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Order 2012 (SI 2012/2113): the 2006 Act specifies a set of activities and work, known as ‘regulated activity’, which a person who is barred from working with vulnerable groups must not do. This Order, which comes into force on 10 September 2012, excludes two areas of work, which would otherwise be in the amended definition of regulated activity, from its scope. It also prescribes information, akin to information about whether a person is barred, which must in certain cases be provided by the SoS and the ISA to professional bodies and supervisory authorities. Finally, it makes an addition to the list of those people who will be able to apply to find out whether a person is barred. (16 August 2012)

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2012 (SI 2012/2157): this Order, which comes into force on 10 September 2012, revokes some legislative provisions which were intended to govern the operation of some aspects of the Vetting and Barring Scheme prior to the full implementation of the vetting element of that scheme. Those provisions are now no longer required following the repeal of that element of the scheme. It also makes some changes that are consequential on amendments to the list of work and roles which must not be undertaken by a person who has been barred by the ISA from working with children and vulnerable adults. (20 August 2012)

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (Controlled Activity and Prescribed Criteria) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2160): these regulations, which mainly come into force on 10 September 2012, make some changes to the list of criminal offences which lead to a person being barred by the ISA from working with children and/or vulnerable adults. They also revoke the regulations which specify what employers must do if they wish to employ someone who has the opportunity for a moderate degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults, or access to their records. (20 August 2012)

Audit Commission: Reducing the cost of assessments and reviews - An adult social care briefing for councils: this is the third in a series of briefings that look at how councils and their partners can achieve better value for money in adult social care. It considers changes in councils' expenditure on social care assessments and reviews over time, and examines how some councils have managed to keep their costs low while continuing to meet vulnerable people's needs. There is also a methodology briefing note which describes the approach used for the secondary analysis of quantitative data in the report. The Commission states that it will also shortly publish a tool allowing councils to compare their expenditure on assessments and reviews with other councils. (23 August 2012)

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

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Anti-Social Behaviour

LGA: Anti-social behaviour - Emerging practice from call handling and case management trials: in 2011 the Home Office ran a set of eight anti-social behaviour call handling and case management trials that sought to tighten up the recording of anti-social behaviour complaints and improve the use of information technology to share information. This was to ensure that vulnerable victims could be more quickly identified, protected and that their cases could be better managed and resolved. Cambridgeshire and South Wales were particularly noted in the Home Office's report on the trials for their successful multi-agency work with local authorities and community safety partnerships. This publication focuses on key activities and emerging practice from Cambridgeshire’s and South Wales’ experiences; it also includes issues and experiences from other trial areas. (21 August 2012) 

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

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Children's Services

Ofsted: Inspection of adoption support agencies - Framework for inspection from September 2012: this document sets out the framework for the inspection of adoption support agencies from September 2012 under the Care Standards Act 2000 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002. It covers the principles underpinning all Ofsted inspections that will apply in this setting; the statutory basis for inspection; and a summary of the main features of the inspection process. It should be read alongside the Inspections of adoption support agencies: evaluation schedule and grade descriptors and Conducting inspections of adoption support agencies: guidance for the inspections of adoption support agencies. (15 August 2012)

NICE: Looked-after children and young people: consultation on draft quality standard: seeks views on a draft quality standard for social care on the health and wellbeing of looked after children and young people, for use in England. Around 60% of children being looked after in England have been reported to have emotional and mental health problems. The standard consists of a number of statements describing high quality care, to help improve the quality of care of looked-after children and young people. The consultation closes on 16 October 2012. (16 August 2012)

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

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Community Rights

DCLG: Get the green space you want - How the Government can help: advice for community organisations on new measures under the Localism Act 2011 that provide opportunities for communities to expand the provision of green spaces in their neighbourhoods and enable local people to play a bigger role in planning, designing, managing and maintaining community green spaces for food growing or recreational and leisure purposes. It discusses the Community Right to Bid, Community Right to Challenge, Community Right to Build and Neighbourhood Planning. (22 August 2012)

DCLG: Potential funding for community green spaces: sets out the potential funding available to community and voluntary organisations to start either a food growing or community orchards project. It identifies the different grant schemes open to local groups, green spaces, allotment organisations or trusts, and also where to go to get help when looking for funding. It replaces the previous guidance issued in August 2011. (22 August 2012)

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

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DfE: Advice on Free School revenue funding 2012/13: this web page outlines the revenue funding for mainstream and 16-19 Free Schools. It also sets out the principles of Free Schools funding, and how revenue funding is calculated. (13 August 2012)

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

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LGA: Local government bonds - A local government collective agency: this joint report from the LGA, Welsh LGA and Local Partnerships highlights the potential opportunity from a project looking to develop a collective agency for long-term borrowing for local authorities. The proposals are grounded in the Prudential Code and its conclusions do not change the principle that borrowing by councils must be prudent and affordable. It argues that in normal market conditions, a local government collective agency should achieve a AAA/Aaa rating and be able to provide loans at rates similar to the proposed PWLB "certainty" rate. It also looks at other important factors for councils to consider, beyond price.  (20 August 2012)

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

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DCLG: Renegotiation of Section 106 planning obligations: seeks views on proposals to amend the Town and Country Planning (Modification and Discharge of Planning Obligations) Regulations 1992 so as to allow reconsideration of Section 106 agreements that were negotiated prior to April 2010 in more buoyant housing market conditions. Under current rules, these obligations cannot be renegotiated for five years once a council refuses a request for voluntary renegotiation by a developer. The proposals are that for planning obligations agreed on or prior to 6 April 2010, the relevant local authority can be asked to formally renegotiate the terms, which will have the effect of reducing the formal period of five years to between two and a half and five years for these obligations. For all planning obligations agreed after 6 April 2010, the period will remain at five years. The consultation closes on 8 October 2012. (13 August 2012)

Policy Exchange: Ending expensive social tenancies - Fairness, higher growth and more homes: this report from policy think-tank Policy Exchange argues that selling off expensive social housing (i.e. social housing worth more than the average property in each region) as it becomes vacant could create the largest social housebuilding programme since the 1970s. The sales would raise £4.5bn annually which could be used to build 80,000-170,000 new social homes a year and reduce the housing waiting list by between 250,000 to 600,000 households in five years. (20 August 2012) 

MoJ: Offence of squatting in a residential building - Circular 2012/04: Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 creates a new offence of squatting in a residential building, which will apply throughout England and Wales from 1 September 2012. This circular explains the elements of the offence and the relationship between this offence and other offences related to trespass, and encourages joined-up working between the police, local authorities and homelessness service providers when enforcing the offence. (22 August 2012)

DCLG: Review of the barriers to institutional investment in private rented homes: this report summarises the results of Sir Adrian Montague's review of the barriers to institutional investment in private rented homes. It recommends that the Government clearly signals the importance it attaches to the expansion of the “build to let” market by encouraging local authorities to make more positive use of existing opportunities under the planning system to promote private rented schemes, reaffirming its commitment to release public land for build to let projects and through providing carefully targeted financial support to the sector with a view to levering in additional private capital. In particular, it should recognise the key role being played by local authorities in this area - as planning authorities, by generally supporting private rented schemes and also through pursuing schemes of their own. (23 August 2012)

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

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Live Music Act 2012 (Commencement) Order 2012 (SI 20121/2115 (C.84)): the Live Music Act 2012 amends the Licensing Act 2003 by partially deregulating the performance of live music, removing regulation about the provision of entertainment facilities and extending the exemption which relates to music accompanying morris dancing or dancing of a similar nature. This Order brings the whole of the Act into force on 12 October 2012. (14 August 2012)

DCMS: Regulated entertainment - Technical consultation on the proposed new Chapter 15 of the Section 182 Guidance issued under the Licensing Act 2003: seeks views on draft statutory guidance that has been updated to reflect the changes made by the Live Music Act 2012 to the regulation of live music. The 2012 Act removes the licensing requirements for: amplified live music between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people on premises authorised to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises; amplified live music between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people in workplaces not otherwise licensed under the 2003 Act (or licensed only for the provision of late night refreshment); and unamplified live music between 8am and 11pm in all venues. It also removes licensing requirements for the provision of entertainment facilities and widens the current licensing exemption for music which is integral to a performance of morris dancing or dancing of a similar type, so that the exemption applies to live or recorded music, instead of unamplified live music. The consultation closes on 28 September 2012. (22 August 2012)

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

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Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Designation of Local Authorities) (No.2) Order 2012 (SI 2012/2084): s.75(2) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 provides that for each police area, other the metropolitan police district and the City of London police area, the Head of Paid Service of the designated local authority is to be the “appropriate officer” on whom functions are conferred under Chapter 6 of Part 1 of the Act (Police and Crime Commissioners: elections and vacancies). This Order, which comes into force on 10 August 2012, designates the local authority for each police area in England and Wales for the purposes of s.75.  It provides for the police areas of Lancashire, Sussex and Gwent which were omitted from SI 2012/1693, which is now is revoked by this Order; it also makes changes to designations in relation to the police areas of Devon and Cornwall, Suffolk and South Wales. (9 August 2012)

Police and Crime Commissioner (Disqualification) (Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2087): these regulations, which come into force on 15 September 2012, set out, for the purposes of disqualification in relation to elections of PCCs to be held on 15 November 2012, the circumstances in which an entity is regarded as being under the control of another for the purposes of s.65 and s.66 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. The grounds for disqualification include employment in an entity which is under the control of certain persons or bodies connected with policing or local authorities. (13 August 2012)

Home Office: Candidate briefings - National policy and strategy: this set of five briefings for Police and Crime Commissioner candidates discuss aspects of crime and policing that need national strategies and nationally coordinated operational response, which PCCs need to be aware of. The briefings look at the various areas where central government  input is important, such as national co-ordination of policing with international law enforcement, and work with the drinks and hospitality industries to reshape the national approach to alcohol. (15 August 2012)

Home Office: Police and Crime Commissioners to swear an oath of impartiality: announces that PCCs will be required on election to pledge an oath to represent "all sections of the public without fear or favour", to emphasise both the significance of this new role in local communities and that PCCs are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate. The press release gives the full text of the oath. (16 August 2012)

Electoral Commission: Electoral fraud communications guidance for PAROs: guidance for Police Area Returning Officers on how to respond to an allegation of electoral fraud and who to contact at the Commission for advice. (21 August 2012)

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

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Powers and Duties

Welsh Government: Statutory guidance to Welsh local authorities on the power to promote or improve economic, social or environmental well-being under the Local Government Act 2000: the well-being power under s.2 LGA 2000 may have been superseded in England by the general power of competence, but in Wales it lives on, and has in fact been invigorated by being extended to community councils by the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011. The Welsh Government is now consulting on draft new statutory guidance to Welsh local authorities that provides an explanation of the well-being power and what it mean to local authorities. The consultation closes on 23 November 2012. (22 August 2012)

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

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Public Health

NHS Confederation: Working with GP commissioners: a guide for local councillors and officers: this briefing explains the implications of the changes introduced by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and includes tips for councillors when working with health colleagues on Health and Well-being Boards and for strong and cohesive working. There is also an equivalent guide for GP commissioners on working with local government that includes a list of local authorities' responsibilities for public health. (9 August 2012)

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

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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 include:

For more details on our training programme or information on tailored training to meet your authority's requirements, please contact our Events team.

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