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    Equality and Discrimination
   Adult Social Services    Finance
   Byelaws    Housing
   Children's Services    Police
   Delivery of Services    Regulatory Services
   Education    Traffic and Transport
   Localism Act 2011 Commencement Table 
   Bevan Brittan's Local Government Training Programme


Access to Information

Cabinet Office: Code of Practice (Datasets): seeks views on a draft Code of Practice with guidance to public authorities on how to handle FOI requests for the release of datasets. Section 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 amends the Freedom of Information Act 2000 so as to require a public authority releasing a dataset to do so in a way that enables the dataset to be used and re-used. It also brings together all provisions for the disclosure, use and re-use of data. The draft Code of Practice clarifies what is expected of public authorities undertaking their new duties. The consultation closes on 10 January 2013. (23 November 2012)

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

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Adult Social Services

DH:  Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework 2013/14: this Outcomes Framework (ASCOF) supports local authorities to rise to the challenge of delivering the main White Paper priorities by providing a clear focus for local priority setting and improvement, and by strengthening the accountability of councils to local people. It: describes the principles for the way in which the ASCOF should be used, and its role in supporting local improvement; provides a national commentary on adult social care outcomes in 2011/12 (the first year of the operation of the framework); sets out the ASCOF for 2013-14; and provides a forward look for the development of the ASCOF in future years.
It should be read alongside Improving health and care: the role of the outcomes frameworks, which sets out in more detail how the frameworks work together to support delivery of the DH’s vision for health and social care. (22 November 2012)

EHRC: Your home care and human rights: this guide for older people, their families and friends explains their entitlement to a home care serrvice that respects their human rights, and what to do if those rights are at risk. It follows the Commission’s Close to Home inquiry report, which showed that many older people are reluctant to complain about inadequate care. (23 November 2012)

DH: Personal health budgets to be rolled out: announces the launch of personal health budgets that enable people with long term conditions and disabilities to have greater choice, flexibility and control over the health care and support they receive. (30 November 2012)

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

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Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Act 2012: this Act of the National Assembly for Wales has received Royal Assent and comes into force on a day or days to be appointed by the Welsh Ministers. It enables local authorities in Wales to take ownership of local laws by simplifying and localising procedures for making, confirming and enforcing local authority byelaws; and removes the function of the Welsh Ministers and the Secretary of State to confirm certain byelaws. The Act is the first Welsh Government Bill passed under the National Assembly for Wales’ new law-making powers. (29 November 2012)
The Attorney General referred the Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill to the Supreme Court after the UK Government questioned its legality. On 21 November 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill was within the National Assembly's legislative competence: Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Bill 2012 - Reference by the Attorney General for England and Wales [2012] UKSC 53 (Sup Ct).

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Consultation on changes to the Children (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 1991: seeks views on proposals to make substantial amendments to Reg.6 of SI 1991/1505 regarding the circumstances in which a local authority can place a child in secure accommodation where that child has been detained by the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) or is remanded in custody or refused bail in the course of criminal or extradition proceedings. The proposals are intended to align the requirements of the 1991 Regulations with the new integrated, more rigorous, remand framework for children that will be introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. The consultation period is very short – it closes on 7 December 2012. (19 November 2012)

Barnado's: Cutting them free from sexual exploitation – A checklist for local authorities: this leaflet for the Lead Member or Director of Children’s Services includes a checklist to help local authorities identify how they can better protect children and young people from sexual exploitation in their local area. (23 November 2012)

Cabinet Office: National Citizen Service – Information for local authorities: the National Citizen Service (NCS) allows young people across England to develop the tools, skills and belief to unlock their potential and make a positive impact in their communities. This leaflet sets out the benefits of local authorities supporting young people to take part in NCS in 2013. It includes a case study of Harrow LBC. (22 November 2012)

DfE: Evaluation of Children's Centres in England (ECCE) – Strand 5: Case studies on the costs of centres in the most deprived areas: the ECCE is a six year study that aims to provide an in-depth understanding of Children’s Centre services, including their effectiveness in relation to different management and delivery approaches and their cost. This report presents interim cost estimates for Strand 5 of the evaluation. It describe how the cost estimates have been derived and considers how potentially robust the use of this case study data might be in a value for money analysis later in the evaluation. There is also a summary of the findings. (29 November 2012)

DfE: Consultation on proposed changes to Regulation 7 of the Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010: seeks views on proposals to revise SI 2010/2130 to enable Ofsted to share the names and addresses of children's homes on their register of children's homes with the police, the Secretary of State for Education and the Office of the Children's Commissioner.The consultation closes on 10 January 2013. (29 November 2012)

DfE: Councils must drive out delays in adoptions: the Children's Minister Edward Timpson has called for local authorities to do more to ensure that children awaiting adoption are not deprived of a loving permanent family because of delays. The Government has publishes its second set of Adoption Scorecards, which show how quickly children were adopted between April 2009 and March 2012. They highlight continued and significant differences in the time local authorities take to place children from care into the families of prospective adopters. (30 November 2012)

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

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Delivery of Services

Social Market Foundation & RSA: Fiscal fallout – The challenge ahead for public spending and public services: this report looks at the scale of the challenge for the public finances that is likely to be revealed in this year’s Autumn Statement and assesses what this will mean for public services at the next Spending Review, set for 2013. The RSA also sets out its own views on how the productivity of public services can be enhanced to help meet that looming challenge. (15 November 2012) 

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

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DBIS: Chartered status for the further education sector: seeks views on proposals to create chartered status for FE institutions, so as to: enhance the reputation of the sector; demonstrate where and how colleges and training providers are being responsive to the employers and communities in their area; measure and demonstrate increased quality; and help prospective learners and the UK Border Agency recognise legitimate FE colleges and training providers. FE colleges and independent training providers would be able to apply for chartered status and if they met the associated criteria would be able to use the term in reference to their title. The word “chartered” would be legally protected so only those meeting the criteria and achieving the award would be able to use it in connection with their institution. The consultation closes on 16 January 2013. (20 November 2012)

DBIS: £400 million boost to England's colleges: announces the 56 colleges that will share £412m funding for investment in buildings and facilities, in the third phase of the Enhanced Renewal Grant (ERG3). (21 November 2012)

DfE: Early education for two-years olds: guidance for local authorities on the Local Authority (Duty to Secure Early Years Provision Free of Charge) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2488) that set out the eligibility criteria for the first phase of the two-year-old entitlement to free early education from September 2013. The DfE has also announced the funding allocations to local authorities to secure early education places for two-year-olds from lower income households, as part of the Dedicated Schools Grant in 2013-14, along with capital funding allocations for the 2012-13 financial year. (27 November 2012)

DfE: Residential special schools – National Minimum Standards: states the National Minimum Standards to safeguard and promote the welfare of children for whom residential accommodation is provided by special schools providing residential accommodation for any child. They provide the minimum standards below which no school is expected to fall in securing outcomes for boarders.
There are also National Minimum Standards for boarding schools that apply to: all mainstream boarding schools, for all age groups of pupils up to 18; any pupils over the age of 18 who live alongside those who are under 18; and children accommodated at the school, other than pupils. (27 November 2012)

DfE: The impact of pupil behaviour and wellbeing on educational outcomes: this project examines how various dimensions of children’s wellbeing are associated with their educational outcomes. It includes a review of relevant literature and an analysis using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). There is also a summary of the findings. (29 November 2012)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

DCMS: Evaluation of the implementation of the Equality Act 2010: these reports presents the findings of a telephone survey of organisations’ understanding of equality legislation. They were designed to investigate organisations’ understanding of and responses to the Equality Act 2010. They look at:

(30 November 2012)

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

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Audit Commission: Tough times – Councils' response to a challenging financial climate: this report sets out the scale and impact of local government funding cuts in 2012/13. It finds that , despite continued reductions in government funding, local authorities largely delivered their planned savings and in many cases added to reserves; however, auditors reported that signs of financial stress were visible. A sizeable minority of councils had to make additional in-year cuts, seek additional funding, or restructure efficiency programmes in order to deliver their budgets. It also looks at local authorities' expenditure on different services, and finds that in 2011/12, planning and development was the service with the highest average fall in spending while Adult Social Care and Children's Social Care saw the lowest average cuts. The report did not look at the impact of funding cuts on services, so is unable to say whether service levels or standards were affected. The report also identifies groups of councils as either an on-going risk or a future risk, based on how financially resilient auditors felt councils are in the short and medium term. (21 November 2012)

DCLG: Business rates retention – policy statement: the Local Government Finance Act 2012 creates a new model for funding local authorities from April 2013 that links their financial revenue to the decisions they take to support local firms and local jobs. Under the business rates retention scheme, local authorities will retain a 50% local share of business rates and then keep a 50% share of any growth they generate, subject to a levy, providing a strong incentive to go for growth. This policy statement provides early confirmation of the Government’s policy decisions in key areas following the summer consultation, ahead of its formal response in the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement. It aims to support local authorities in their preparations for smooth implementation of the business rates retention scheme from April 2013 by providing details of the Government’s approach to the key issues. The annexes contain an updated step-by-step guide to the scheme’s workings and a glossary of technical terms.
DCLG has also published an online Plain English guide to business rates retention. (21 November 2012)

DCLG: Community budget pilots transforming public services: the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has spoken at a conference on how the Community Budgets pilot programme has helped local authorities to radically rework public services so that they provide better help to those in need while saving money.
The Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis also spoke at the conference about Early Intervention pilots and Neighbourhood Community Budgets, with a case study of the pilot in West Cheshire. (29 November 2012)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2885): all billing authorities in England are required to have their own local council tax support schemes, replacing council tax benefit, from 1 April 2013. Prior to making their schemes, billing authorities are required to consult with various other authorities and bodies as required by Sch.1A para.3 to the LGFA 1992 and publish drafts of their schemes, and the schemes must be approved by full Council on or before 31 January 2013. These regulations, which come into force on 27 November 2012, prescribe matters that billing authorities must include in their support schemes. (22 November 2012)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Scheme) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2886): these regulations, which come into force on 18 December 2012, set out a default council tax support scheme that will apply to those billing authorities that have not made their own scheme by 31 January 2013. (22 November 2012)

Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2914): these regulations, which come into force on 30 November 2012, contain rules for the calculation of the council tax base, which is an amount used for the purpose of calculating council tax for an area, for the financial years beginning on or after 1 April 2013. They amend, consolidate and replace SI 1992/612. The amendments take account of the new local council tax reduction schemes which local authorities will be required to implement under the Local Government Finance Act 2012 in place of nationally administered council tax benefits from 1 April 2013. (26 November 2012)

DCLG: Localising support for council tax – Update on funding arrangements: in April 2012 DCLG consulted on the funding arrangements for the new system of localised council tax support, including: the way that local billing authorities and major precepting authorities would receive funding towards the costs of council tax support; the way in which the allocations for authorities will be calculated; and indicative allocations to help authorities plan. This document summarises the responses received to the funding consultation on setting a budget pressure floor and ceiling and confirms the Government’s approach. It also provides an update on wider aspects of the funding arrangements for local council tax support schemes for billing and major precepting authorities. The final local authority and precepting authorities figures for the principal funding, damping, and new burdens funding will be included in the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, expected to be published in mid-December, following the Autumn Statement on 5 December. (26 November 2012)

DCLG: Localising support for Council Tax – Guidance note on administrative matters: clarifies for local authorities how some administrative elements of the council tax reduction schemes will be dealt with under existing council tax provisions in the Local Government Finance Act and related regulations, where these are not covered in the Default Scheme and Prescribed Requirements Regulations. (29 November 2012) 

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

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R (Southern Landlords Association) v Thanet DC [2012] EWHC 3187 (Admin) (Admin Ct):  SLA, a trade association of landlords, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to designate two of its wards as a selective licensing area under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004. A report to the Council found that the area was commonly seen as a rundown and an undesirable place to live, had an over-supply of mainly substandard private rented accommodation, and that the deprivation and nature of the housing stock combined to place a heavy demand on the public services to deal with fires, crime, dumped rubbish, anti social behaviour and illness. It stated that selective licensing would help deal with the problems associated with rented accommodation and anti social behaviour. SLA contended that there was a lack of evidence to meet the statutory requirements for selective licensing and that the Council had failed to consider alternative means of achieving the objectives that selective licensing was intended to achieve. 
The court held, refusing the application, that there was no error in the Council's decision making. There was no confusion in the Council's definition of anti social behaviour and no flaw regarding the evidence of a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour in the area. There was also direct evidence of the link between anti social behaviour and conduct of some of the private sector landlords in the area. Nor had the council erred in finding that this was an area of low housing demand. Section 80 of the 2004 Act and the guidance as to low housing demand were concerned with whether there was a demand for housing in the area by a range of persons, for a variety of housing tenures, who wished to remain there for a substantial period. The Council's decision was based on the evidence of the high turnover of properties, the very high proportion of rental property, the poor condition of many properties and the local anti-social behaviour. (13 November 2012)

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

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Home Office: Changes to the police complaints system and procedures for dealing with police officer misconduct and unsatisfactory performance (Circular 023/2012): advises of new legislation and associated guidance that came into force on 22 November 2012 and which makes changes to the police complaints system and procedures for dealing with police officer misconduct and unsatisfactory performance in Home Office police forces in England and Wales. (22 November 2012) 

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

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Regulatory Services

DBIS: Street trading and pedlary laws – Compliance with the European Services Directive: The Services Directive 2006/123 aims to make it easier for service businesses to set up or sell their services anywhere in the EU. It includes a requirement that all authorisation schemes must be based on criteria which preclude the competent authority from exercising its power of assessment in an arbitrary manner. This consultation seeks views on proposals and draft Regulations to amend the street trading laws in Sch.4 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and to repeal the Pedlars Acts 1871 and 1881, to ensure that the legislation complies fully with the Directive's requirements. it also sets out proposed changes to NI and Scottish legislation on street trading and pedlars. The consultation also re-emphasises the need for local authorities to screen their local street trading legislation against the requirements of the Directive. The closing date for comments is 15 February 2013. (23 November 2012)

Welsh Government: Proposals for a draft Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill: seeks views on proposals to introduce legislation on out of control dogs. The proposed Bill would amend the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to make it an an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control anywhere in Wales, including private property. It would also make it an offence for a dog to attack certain other animals. The legislation would encourage more responsible dog ownership through training, and increases Welsh local authorities' regulatory role by giving them more powers to issue Dog Control Notices (DCNs). (23 November 2012)

DCLG: Plain English guide to flying flags: provides a brief summary of the new, more liberalised, controls over flag flying that were introduced on 12 October 2012 by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2372). Flags are treated as advertisements under the planning regime and some require formal consent from the local planning authority, whereas others do not. This guide summarises the restrictions for both types of flag. (27 November 2012)

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

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Traffic and Transport

DfT: Additional funding for cycling infrastructure: announces an additional £20m for existing infrastructure projects to support cycling. Also, the Public Health Minister Anna Soubry and the Transport Minister Norman Baker have attended a conference that explored how local authorities’ health and transport officials can work better together to deliver better options for cycling and walking in their local areas.
See also NICE's guidance Walking and cycling: local measures to promote walking and cycling as forms of travel or recreation that gives guidance to local authorities and other bodies on how people can be encouraged to increase the amount they walk or cycle for travel or recreation purposes. This will help meet public health and other goals, e.g. to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.(28 November 2012)

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

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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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