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    Health
   Adult Social Services    Housing
   Children's Services    Licensing
   Economic Development    Localism
   Education    Performance
   Energy Efficiency    Police
   Equality and Discrimination    Procurement
   Finance    Standards
   Localism Act 2011 Commencement Table 
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme


Access to Information

DCLG: Improving local government transparency: seeks views on making the Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency a legal requirement. The proposals mean that all local authorities would be required to publish their spending over £500 online including, tenders, contracts, senior pay, councillor expenses, voluntary sector funding, meetings, and frontline service data so that the public can clearly see the decisions being made on their behalf. In addtion, one of the Government's transparency trailblazers is now being extended to include all transactions above a new low threshold of £250 and 'can do' councils have been challenged to match that threshold. The consultation closes on 20 December 2012. (25 October 2012)

LGA: Consultation on publishing voluntary and community sector spending data: DCLG's current Recommended Code of Practice on Transparency for Local Government expects local authorities to publish grants to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCS), amongst other datasets. This consultation seeks views on a proposal for guidance to publish VCS spending data in a way that promotes local accountability and to demonstrate to residents and the VCS how local councils spend their money and is consistent and comparable between authorities. It proposes a practical solution to publishing the data that is cost-effective and does not create a new and unnecessary burden on councils. The consultation closes on 14 December 2012. (22 October 2012) 

ACSeS: Access to information guidance approach: ACSeS has produced a short guidance note to assist its members in relation to executive decisions taken by officers under the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, which require all officers taking ‘executive decisions’, as from 10 September 2012, to make a written, publicly available statement of the decision and to publish this record on the authority’s website. The Suggested Approach to Officer Executive Decisions is set out at the end of this press release. (18 October 2012) 

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

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Adult Social Services

DH: Charging arrangements for adult social care services (LAC(DH)(2012)03): this circular explains the revised charging arrangements for adult social care services, which should be applied from 29 October 2012. It covers the updated editions of the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG) and the Fairer Charging Policies for Home Care and other non-residential Social Services guidance. (22 October 2012)

DH: £50 million investment to give people with dementia specially designed care homes and wards: announces up to £50m for local authorities and NHS trusts, working in partnership with care providers, to help tailor hospitals and care homes to the needs of people with dementia. The care providers involved will need to sign up to the Dementia Care and Support Compact, which commits them to providing first rate care and support for people with dementia and their families. Organisations that bid successfully for money will be able to adapt care homes and hospitals using design principles tested in The King’s Fund pilots. The criteria for applying for funding and the deadline for receipt of applications will be announced shortly. The successful projects will begin from April 2013. (25 October 2012)

Welsh Government: The Strategy for Older People in Wales (Phase 3) 2013-2023: the Strategy for Older People was first launched in 2003 to address the issues and aspirations of people aged 50 and over living in Wales. The first two phases of the Strategy sought to raise awareness of the needs of older people and identify the structures that needed to be put in place to enable the voice of older people to be heard. This paper seeks views on the progression of Phase 3 of this strategy, including: suggestions on how to measure improvement or success; evidence of effective interventions that the Welsh Government should consider; and what more the Welsh Government should do to address the needs of older people in Wales. The consultation closes on 17 January 2013. (25 October 2012)

Draft Disabled People’s Right to Control (Pilot Scheme) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012: Part 2 of the Welfare Reform Act 20092 established the Right to Control that enables disabled people aged 18 or over to exercise greater choice and control over the way in which certain services are provided to or for them.  These regulations, which are scheduled to come into force on 12 December 2012, extend the Right to Control pilot scheme under SI 2010/2862 for a further 12 months, until 12 December 2013. It also amends the list of local authorities delivering the Right to Control, by removing Oldham MBC. (23 October 2012)

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: Inspection of Sure Start Children's Centres: seeks views on proposals for a revised framework for the inspection of Sure Start Children’s Centres, following changes in the Government’s vision for Sure Start Children’s Centres and the way in which local authorities have chosen to commission and deliver services from children’s centres. The consultation closes on 11 January 2013. (29 October 2012)

Ofsted: Independent visitors – Children and young people’s views: the Children Act 1989 requires a local authority to appoint a volunteer who doesn’t work for social care services but who is there to visit and ‘befriend and advise’ a child, as an independent visitor for any child they are looking after if the authority thinks it would be in the child’s best interests. This report from the Children's Rights Director summarises children in care’s views and experiences of having an independent visitor, as well as their views about not being offered one. (31 October 2012)

NICE: Social and emotional wellbeing for children and young people: this guidance aims to help to strengthen home visiting and early education services, and recommends that health professionals are alert to any factors that may pose a risk to a child's social and emotional well-being. It recommends that each Health and Well-being Board should ensure that the social and emotional well-being of vulnerable children features in its health and well-being strategy, as one of the most effective ways of addressing health inequalities. (29 October 2012)

Welsh Government: 'When I am ready' – Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers: seeks views on a proposed scheme that aims to ensure better support for care leavers in Wales in their transition to adulthood and independence. It sets out proposed arrangements for ‘eligible children' to remain living with their former foster carers beyond their 18th birthday, and for 'former relevant children', aged 18 to 21 to access continuing support for as long as they continue to pursue an agreed educational or training programme. The consultation closes on 4 January 2013. (9 October 2012)

Play Sufficiency Assessment (Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2555 (W.279)): these regulations, which come into force on 2 November 2012, prescribe the arrangements for a Welsh local authority’s assessment of the sufficiency of play opportunities in its area under the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010. (9 October 2012)

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

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Economic Development

DBIS: Lord Heseltine review - No stone unturned: this report sets out a comprehensive economic plan to improve the UK’s ability to create wealth. His independent report makes the case for a major rebalancing of responsibilities for economic development between central and local government, and between government and the private sector. The report makes 89 recommendations, including:

  • a National Growth Council, chaired by the Prime Minister;
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships to develop their own tailored local economic plans and compete for a share of a single national pot to support growth over a five year period from 2015-16;
  • Government and the private sector to work together to create a strong, locally based business support infrastructure, with the Chambers of Commerce having an increased role building a stronger relationship between businesses and LEPs in their area;
  • the Government to set out clearly a comprehensive national growth strategy which defines its role and that of local leaders and the private sector in the creation of wealth;
  • a restructuring of the regulatory regime;
  • the planning system to be injected with greater urgency; and 
  • Government procurement to be improved by employing an experienced chief procurement officer in every department.

(31 October 2012)

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

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DECC: The back on track alternative provision pilots – Final report: in April 2009, the DfE funded 12 innovative pilot projects to develop best practice and encourage greater diversity in alternative provision. This report sets out the findings from research into the Back on Track pilots to investigate what can work in alternative provision, how and for whom, in order to advance understandings and inform future policy and practice. (25 October 2012)

Ofsted: Deferral of inspections – Learning and skills providers and colleges: sets out the criteria for deferral or cancellation of inspections under the new Common Inspection Framework for further education and skills that applies to inspections from September 2012 onwards. (26 October 2012)

DECC: Departmental advice on school attendance matters: seeks views on revised consolidated guidance for governing bodies, head teachers, school staff, police officers, local authority officers and parents relating to pupil registers and attendance codes, the school day and year, and statutory guidance on education-related parenting contracts, parenting orders and penalty notices. (1 November 2012)

Collaboration Between Education Bodies (Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2655 (W.287): the Education (Wales) Measure 2011 enables governing bodies of maintained schools, further education bodies and local authorities to develop joint working arrangements. These regulations, which come into force on 16 November 2012, make further provision in relation to the arrangements that may be made for these education bodies' functions to be discharged by joint committees. (23 October 2012)

Welsh Government: School organisation: seeks views on a draft School Organisation Code under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill. The draft Code contains practical guidance to which relevant bodies must have due regard and sets out the policy context, general principles and factors that should be taken into account by those bringing forward proposals to reconfigure school provision and by those responsible for determining proposals. The consultation closes on 16 January 2013. (24 October 2012)

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

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Energy Efficiency

DECC: Improving energy efficiency in buildings – Resources guide for local authorities: this guide provides a resource for local authority personnel who are involved in climate change mitigation in the built environment to support the planning and delivery of projects. It sets out a number of ways in which local authorities may directly support the delivery of Green Deal in their local area, and also how they can enable others in their local communities to take action on energy efficiency. It also discusses how local authorities can encourage development of zero carbon new build in their local area, working with key partners such as social housing providers and housing developers. (19 October 2012) 

DECC: Local authority funds – DECC local authority competition 2012/13: announces a Local Authority Competition, designed to support local authorities in the delivery of the Department’s key energy efficiency initiatives. It invites top tier and lower tier local authorities to design proposals that make use of the funding available in one (or more) of the following: 

  • Fuel Poverty Fund: £25m to help improve thermal efficiency of homes;
  • Green Deal Pioneer Places Fund: £10m to kick start Green deal projects; and
  • ‘Cheaper Energy Together’ Collective Switching Fund: £5m to set up collective switching schemes.

The closing dates for applications is 30 November 2012. Any funds awarded must be spent by 31 March 2013. (19 October 2012) 

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

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Equality and Discrimination

Birmingham City Council v Abdulla [2012] UKSC 47 (Sup Ct): the Supreme Court has ruled that equal pay claims may be brought in the civil courts, even if the time limit for bringing an equal pay claim in the Employment Tribunal has expired.  This means that employees have six years in which to bring their claims, rather than the six months during which a claim must be brought in the Employment Tribunal. Furthermore, the payment of employees’ legal costs in bringing equal pay proceedings will be an issue, as employers may have the winning party’s legal costs awarded against them; whereas costs are relatively rarely awarded in the Employment Tribunal, regardless of the outcome. Following on from this decision, employers may find that equal pay claims start to come out of the woodwork, even if the employee has long since left their employment or any pay disparity has been resolved. (24 October 2012)

Ali v Newham LBC [2012] EWHC 2970 (Admin) (Admin Ct): A, who was visually impaired, applied for judicial review of the authority's new local guidance on the design and specification of tactile paving that enabled visually impaired persons to navigate pavements and locate road crossings safely. He sought a declaration that the authority had acted unlawfully in adopting the guidance and an order to quash the guidance. The DfT had issued national guidance but the Authority had adopted a policy that departed from the national guidance.
The court held, granting the application, that the authority did not have a lawful justification for departing from the relevant national guidance and so its guide was unlawful. The guidance was  issued against the background of the equality duty, by which the needs of the disabled, including the visually impaired, had to be given due regard. The national guidance was set out in imperative terms, because there was a compelling longer term need to achieve an acceptable level of uniformity and consistency throughout all localities. The authority was required to follow the national guidance unless it had good reasons to depart from it. The fact that it had consulted on its proposals, and formed its own view on how to balance the interests of other affected groups against the needs of the visually impaired did not provide a good reason for departing from the guidance. (30 October 2012)

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

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Local Government Finance Act 2012: this Act has received Royal Assent and comes into force on 31 October 2012, apart from s.13 (Mortgagee in possession to be liable for council tax), which comes into force on a day to be appointed. The Act:

  • supports growth by directly linking a council's financial revenue to the decisions they take to back local firms and local jobs. It introduces a rates retention scheme, enabling local authorities to receive a 50% 'local share' of business rates and then keep any growth they generate on that share for a seven year period, to provide a strong financial incentive to promote local economic growth; 
  • creates Tax Increment Financing, which allows councils to borrow against projected business rate growth to pay for vital infrastructure developments now;
  •  provides a framework for the localisation of support for council tax in England, which enables local authorities, from next year, to run local council tax support schemes, giving them an incentive to reduce fraud, promote local enterprise and help people back to work and off benefits; and 
  • makes a number of technical reforms to council tax, including powers to reduce certain discounts and exemptions.

(31 October 2012)

DCLG: Business rates retention draft regulations: seeks views on five sets of draft regulations made under the new Sch.7B LGFA 1988 that is inserted by Sch.1 to the Local Government Finance Act 2012.  The regulations will underpin the business rates retention scheme that will come in on 1 April 2013. The consultation closes on 23 November 2012. (25 October 2012)

DCLG: Localising support for council tax – Re-stated default scheme universal credit provisions: sets out the default scheme universal credit provisions taking into account minor amendments and simplifications since July 2012. There is also a revised explanatory note that explains how these provisions support work incentives. (29 October 2012)

DCLG: Accountability system statement for the Greater London Authority: this document sets out the financial relationship between the GLA and DCLG, with the checks and balances including via the elected London Assembly and through various statutory controls which form the present system. The statement also highlights changes which are expected to be made during the year. (18 October 2012)

Welsh Government: Governments reach new agreement on Welsh funding: the UK Government and the Welsh Government have issued a joint statement outlining new commitments on funding in Wales. It establishes a common position on how English and Welsh funding per head has converged in the past and the likely trend in the future. The Governments have also agreed that, in principle, the Welsh Government should have access to capital borrowing powers on the condition an independent revenue stream, such as tax powers, is in place to support them – as currently being considered by the Silk Commission. (24 October 2012)

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

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LGA / NHS Commissioning Board: Concordat: sets out the NHS CB's and the LGA's formal commitment to work together to support Health and Wellbeing Boards to work across whole communities to drive real improvement and reduce inequalities in the health and wellbeing outcomes of local populations. They have agreed to produce joint annual plans setting out how they will work together to ensure joined-up, high-quality health, social care and safeguarding services for everyone. They have also pledged to meet regularly to assess progress and set future priorities. (29 October 2012)

NICE: NICE guidance and public health outcomes:  this briefing for local authorities provides links to NICE guidance relevant to more than 40 of the indicators in the Public Health Outcomes Framework for England and shows how it can help local authorities tackle their public health priorities. (31 October 2012)

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

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Housing (Empty Dwelling Management Orders) (Prescribed Period of Time and Additional Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Order 2012 (SI 2012/2625): this Order, which comes into force on 15 November 2012, prescribes a period of time for which a property must be wholly unoccupied before a residential property tribunal may authorise a local housing authority to make an interim Empty Dwelling Management Order  (EDMO). The new prescribed period of two years replaces the current period of six months which is set down in s.134(2)(a) of the Housing Act 2004. Iit also amends the list of requirements prescribed in art.4 of SI 2006/367, with which the local housing authority must comply before a residential property tribunal may authorise a local housing authority to make an interim EDMO. (23 October 2012)

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

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Late Night Levy (Application and Administration) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2730): Chapter 2 of Part 2 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 enables a licensing authority to introduce a Late Night Levy in its area if it considers it desirable to raise revenue in relation to the costs of policing crime and disorder connected to the supply of alcohol in that area between midnight and 6am. The levy is payable by the holder of a premises licence or club premises certificate holder which authorises the supply of alcohol during those hours. These regulations, which come into force on 31 October 2012, prescribe matters that are necessary to give effect to the levy framework. (29 October 2012)

Home Office: Amended guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003: revised guidance to licensing authorities on the discharge of their functions under the 2003 Act. (31 October 2012)

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

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Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional Provisions) (England) Order 2012 (SI 2012/2599 (C.104)): this Order brings s148 and s.149 of the 2011 Act (local authorities' duties to homeless persons) into force on 9 November 2012. (11 October 2012)
For a full list of commencement dates, see Bevan Brittan's Localism Act 2011 Commencement Table.

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

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Local Government (Performance Indicators) (Wales) Order 2012 (SI 2012/2539 (W.278)): this Order, which comes into force on 1 November 2012, specifies, for Wales, the performance indicators by reference to which the performance of county councils and county borough councils, in exercising functions, will be measured from 1 April 2013 and in relation to subsequent financial years. (8 October 2012)

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

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Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2631): these regulations, which come into force on 22 November 2012, revoke and re-enact  SI 2008/2862 which sets out a detailed procedure for dealing with unsatisfactory performance or attendance by police officers of the rank of Chief Superintendent or below. The amendments reflect changes to policing governance made by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and improve the procedure for dealing with unsatisfactory performance in police forces. (23 October 2012)

Police (Conduct) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2632): these regulations, which come into force on 22 November 2012, revoke and re-enact SI 2008/2864 which sets out a detailed procedure for the investigation of allegations of misconduct against police officers, for the taking of misconduct proceedings and for the imposition of sanctions. The amendments reflect changes to policing governance made by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and improve the procedure for dealing with allegations of police misconduct. (23 October 2012)

Crime and Disorder (Formulation and Implementation of Strategy) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2660): SI 2007/1830 sets out the way in which the police, local authorities, fire & rescue authorities, PCTs, Local Health Boards and probation services are to carry out their functions as a Community Safety Partnership (CSP) under s.6 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. These regulations, which come into force on 22 November 2012, amend SI 2007/1830 so as require CSPs in England to send copies of their partnership plans to the relevant Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), and allow the PCC to require members of the CSPs to attend meetings to discuss their community safety strategies. (25 October 2012)

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

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Cabinet Office: Government bodies must comply with Open Standards Principles: announces that, from now on, all government bodies must comply with an agreed set of standards to make IT more open, cheaper and better connected. The Open Standards Principles will help Government to deliver more innovative IT services and further drive savings and encourage more competition for government contracts. (1 November 2012)

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

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ACSeS:  The Localism Act 2011 – Disclosable pecuniary interests and co-opted members: this advice from Quentin Baker (Cambridgeshire) and Simon Bird QC have agreed to make advice available to ACSeS members on disclosable pecuniary interests in relation to members and co-opted members, particularly of Health and Wellbeing Boards and pensions committees, and the consequential need for dispensations. The contents of this advice will be relevant to most principal councils, and is available to ACSeS members in the document library  under the category "Localism - code of conduct". (26 October 2012)

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.

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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