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    Finance
   Anti-Social Behaviour    Governance
   Bribery and Corruption    Housing
   Children's Services    Parish Councils 
   Decision Making    Pensions
   Delivery of Services    Public Health
   Duty of Care    Regulatory Services
   Economic Development    Transport
   Education    Welfare Reform
   Equality and Discrimination

Adult Social Services

Ofsted: Regulation of social work providers and the inspection of the statutory functions delegated to them by local authorities: Part 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 allows local authorities to delegate their statutory functions about looked after children and care leavers to private providers. The Act also requires the private provider and any manager to be registered as an agency under the Care Standards Act 2000. This short consultation seeks views on proposals for Ofsted's regulation of social work providers (SWPs) and the inspection of the statutory functions delegated to them by local authorities, after the coming into force of Part 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 in November 2013. It also covers how Ofsted intends to manage the relationship between their registration and the inspection of the functions they have delegated to them by local authorities. The consultation closes on 25 October 2013. (14 October 2013)

DH: Public perceptions of the NHS and social care: this independent report provides the results from a survey of public attitudes towards, and perceptions of, the NHS and social care services. The survey is the latest in a series of surveys that tracks public perceptions and attitudes over time. It includes the findings that there has been a small but significant rise in satisfaction with social care services: 75% of those who have experienced social care services are satisfied with them, compared to the 71% recorded in December 2011. (10 October 2013)

EHRC: Close to home recommendations review: this report reviews the 25 recommendations as to local authorities' commissioning of home care, that the EHRC originally made in its 2011 formal Inquiry "Close to home". The ECHR concludes that local authorities should change how they commission home care, and in particular ensure that workers are paid the minimum wage. The report warns that the way care is currently commissioned is unsustainable, leading to inadequate pay, poor working conditions for care workers and increasing threats to older people's human rights. The EHRC is now calling for all contracts commissioning home care to include a requirement that care workers are paid at least the National Minimum Wage, including payment for travel time and costs. Local authorities should be transparent and set out how the rates they pay cover the costs of safe and legal care, with cost models published on their websites. (8 October 2013)
Bevan Brittan has issued an alert Home truths – Local authorities' commissioning of home care that discusses the implications for local authorities of the EHRC report.

Leonard Cheshire Disability: Ending 15 minute care: this report calls for local authorities to stop delivering care in 15 minute units. The research shows that the public overwhelming agrees that 15-minute care is unacceptable, at the same time as councils are increasingly using these shorter care slots. (4 October 2013)
The Care Minister has since announced proposals to deal with rushed care visits. He states that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is proposing to look at whether home care visits are long enough to respond to people’s needs. They will also consider looking at how staff working conditions might be impacting on care. The CQC will formally consult on changes to its adult social care approach in spring 2014 and throughout the spring and summer will widely test the new model, including ratings. The new approach will be fully rolled out from October 2014 and CQC anticipate that every adult social care service will have been rated at least once by the end of March 2016. (17 October 2013)

London Councils: Care Bill, Report stage – Amendment 121, before Clause 69: the Care Bill currently before Parliament implements government policies as set out in the White Paper 'Caring for our future: reforming care and support'. This briefing highlights London Councils' concerns about levels of resourcing for local authorities to implement the proposals set out in the Bill. It presents its arguments in support of the Lords' proposed amendment that would require the Secretary of State to ask the Office for Budget Responsibility to complete by the end of 2014 a review of the funding of adult social care. (15 October 2013)

DBIS: Adult care homes – Focus on Enforcement review: sets out the findings from the review of regulatory enforcement in the adult care homes sector. The review examined businesses that are required to register with the Care Quality Commission, because they carry out regulated activity, i.e. providing accommodation for people who require nursing or personal care. Concerns raised by the sector related mostly to the way in which the regulations are enforced and to the way in which commissioning roles are exercised. There was evidence of a lack of co-ordination between the CQC and commissioners of places in homes, contributing to the burdens imposed on providers, and meaning it is unlikely that best use is made of information available to public agencies to aid effective enforcement. Although a protocol was produced to support joint working between CQC and local authorities a couple of years ago, the findings suggest this is not a live document that is actually being used in many areas. (15 October 2013)

CQC: A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of adult social care – Working together to change how we inspect and regulate adult social care services: sets out CQC's priorities for improving how it monitors, inspects and regulates adult social care services. The paper describes how the Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care will work with people who use services their families and carers, providers, commissioners and other organisations to deliver these priorities. There will be a full public consultation in Spring 2014. (15 October 2013)

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

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Anti-Social Behaviour

DEFRA: Tackling irresponsible dog ownership – Draft practitioners' manual: this draft manual for police and local authorities provides information on the powers included in the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill 2013 that is currently before the House of Commons. Part 7 of the Bill amends the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so as to extend the offence of a dog being dangerously out of control. The manual gives examples of non-statutory measures and practical considerations of dog control. The documents will be reviewed before final publication once the Bill achieves Royal Assent. (8 October 2013)

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

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Bribery and Corruption

Transparency International UK: Corruption in local government – The mounting risks: this report warns that an unintended consequence of changes such as the Localism Act 2011 and those proposed in the Local Audit and Accountability Bill may be to create an enabling environment for corruption.  However, the authors believe that it is not too late to address this. The report identifies 16 recent legislative changes which increase the risk of corruption, as well as other trends such as the decline in scrutiny by local press and the move to more private sector outsourcing. It includes 22 recommendations, including that the Government should conduct a corruption risk assessment and strengthen whistle-blowing procedures. (9 October 2013)

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

Ofsted: Review of the Local Safeguarding Children Board: seeks views on proposals to review the effectiveness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board. The consultation closes on 23 October 2013. (10 October 2013)

DfE: Young carers to receive more support than ever before: announces that the Government has tabled an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that is currently before Parliament, that will provide for children and young people who care for family members to benefit from a full assessment of their support needs so they receive help and assistance to experience the same opportunities as their friends. The changes will extend the right to an assessment of support needs to all young carers under the age of 18,- regardless of who they care for or how often they provide it. Local authorities will be able to combine the assessment of a young carer with an assessment of the person they care for, providing a co-ordinated and rounded package of support for the whole family. (8 October 2013)

Social Care Institute for Excellence: Partnership working in child protection – Improving liaison between acute paediatric and child protection services: this briefing summarises a report on research carried out by SCIE. The study describes how acute paediatric and social care child protection services work together, identifying what is viewed locally as good practice, and why.  In particular, the study looks at good practice in staffing, identifying cases where child maltreatment should be considered, referring cases to social care and information-sharing, and to explore what supports interface arrangements that professionals deem most effective. The briefing explores the implications of the findings for policy-makers and strategic leads in health and social care services. (2 October 2013)

Ofsted: Consultation on the regulation of social work providers and the inspection of the statutory functions delegated to them by local authorities: seeks views on proposals for Ofsted's regulation of social work providers and the inspection of the statutory children's services functions delegated to them by local authorities, after the coming into force of Part 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 in November 2013. It also covers how Ofsted intends to manage the relationship between their registration and the inspection of the functions they have delegated to them by local authorities. The consultation closes on 25 October 2013. (14 October 2013)

Ofsted: Social Care Annual Report 2012/13: Ofsted has pubished its first stand-alone annual report on local authority children's social care. It shows that of the 17 local authorities judged ‘inadequate’ in the past year, 11 had seen a new Director of Children’s Services recently installed while 12 had undergone another major change in senior leadership of one sort or another in the period prior to inspection. The report finds that in a climate of turbulence, increased workloads and intense scrutiny of children’s social care, much of it arising from public anxiety following a catalogue of high profile child deaths, many areas are struggling to improve their performance. (15 October 2013)

W (A Child) v Neath Port Talbot CBC [2013] EWCA Civ 1227 (CA): W's mother, M, supported by the local authority, appealed against a care order made in respect of W. The local authority had applied for a care order in respect of W but decided not to pursue the proceedings as it considered that W was thriving in M's care and that M's allegations of sexual abuse had been found to be untrue, so it considered that the threshold under s.31 of the Children Act 1989 had not been met. The judge concluded that W was at risk of suffering emotional harm and that her placement with M was dependent upon the local authority sharing responsibility with M. The local authority refused to accept the judge's evaluation of risk  to W arising out of the findings of fact. The question on appeal was whether the judge was wrong to have made a care order on the basis of a care plan with which M did not agree and in the circumstance that the order was opposed by both the local authority and M.
The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. It discussed the exercise of the court's jurisdiction in relation to care planning: it was the court that decided what the key issues were, the timetable for proceedings and whether there were sufficient facts which if found would satisfy the threshold. It used those findings to evaluate the risk to the child and what was in the child's best interests. It then decided the placement options and what orders were proportionate, based on the local authority's evidence as to the services it could provide. An authority could not decline to file its evidence or proposed plans in response to the court's evaluations. This did not bind the local authority's care planning and review processes once a full order was made as the authority could appeal it or apply at a later date to change it.
Here, the judge's lack of reasoning vitiated the exercise of determining the proportionality of the order made and so the care order would be set aside and an interim care order substituted. The matter would be returned to the county court to decide what orders were proportionate and why having regard to the welfare evaluation. The local authority was directed to file evidence and care plans which described the services which would be made available under each order that the court might make to meet the risk identified by the judge. (11 October 2013)

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

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Decision Making

Trail Riders Fellowship v Powys CC [2013] EWHC 3144 (Admin) (Admin Ct): TRF applied to quash the Council's decision to make a traffic regulation order (TRO) over each of two byways in the county. One of the grounds of challenge was that the Council's committee was influenced by legal proceedings being brought against the Council under s. 56 of the Highways Act to put a highway into repair, which was on appeal from the magistrates' court. A part of the Council's defence in those proceedings was that a TRO superseded the statutory provision of the maintenance of a highway. The report to the committee stated that "therefore any decision that goes against the proposal of this report will put that defence into jeopardy". The committee then resolved to defer decisions on the proposed TROs in the light of the appeal to the Crown Court in the section 56 proceedings.
The court held, quashing the TROs, that the words in the report were most unfortunate. The court could not rule out that members of the committee were influenced in their decision to make the orders on the improper consideration that doing so would benefit the Council's position in the appeal or not doing so would jeopardise it. The decision to seal the orders came in the middle of the appeal, and could be seen as a reaction to the events in court. (17 October 2013)

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

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Delivery of Services

DCLG: ‘Can-do’ councils leading transformation of local government: announces the 18 local authorities that are winners of the £6.9m Transformation Challenge Award for demonstrating their ability to remain at the cutting edge of service transformation, while delivering efficiency savings. It also announces that in 2015 there will be a £100m Transformation Fund to help even more councils to set up shared services, combining their operations for service delivery, including with other public and private sector service providers. (9 October 2013)

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

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Duty of Care

West Sussex CC v Pierce (A child by his litigation friend Pierce) [2013] EWCA Civ 1230 (CA): the Council appealed against the High Court's decision that it was liable to P for injuries suffered when, aged 9, he accidentally punched the underside of a metal water fountain in his school's playground. P claimed that the injuries resulted from the Council's negligence and/or breach of statutory duty as it had failed to carry out a properly considered risk assessment when installing the water fountain and there was a foreseeable risk that children were likely to suffer serious injury if they came into the contact with this area with force.
The court held, allowing the appeal, that the judge failed either to identify or resolve the legal issues which required determination. He had not mentioned or applied the common duty prescribed by s.2 of the Occupier's Liability Act 1957 to the facts but had proceeded on the flawed basis that once he had determined that the underside of the water fountain was sharp and there was a possibility that an accident might occur, the Council was liable for what happened unless it had conducted what the judge described as a properly considered risk assessment. The correct test was whether as a matter of objective fact, visitors to the school were reasonably safe in using the premises, including the water fountain, bearing in mind that children do not behave like adults, and are inclined to lark around. The answer to that was "yes". The school was not under a duty to safeguard children against harm under all circumstances. It was no more obliged as an occupier to take such steps in respect of the water fountain than it would be in respect of any of the other numerous ordinary edges and corners or surfaces against which children might accidentally injure themselves whilst on the premises. (16 October 2013)

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

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Economic Development

DCLG: £100 million investment to give enterprise zones business edge: invites Enterprise Zones to bid for a share of an extra £100m funding from the Enterprise Zone Capital Grant Fund to enable them to complete key infrastructure projects. The deadline for bids is 18 November 2013. Local enterprise partnerships are being asked to coordinate bids in their area. Details and eligibility criteria are in the bidding guidance and application form. (7 October 2013)

DBIS: New initiative to support $40 billion smart cities in the UK: announces the launch of a new Smart Cities Forum to make the most of opportunities to develop new technologies for smart cities in the UK. The press release gives examples of how Smart Cities are being developed in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
See also the Smart Cities background paper which considers the challenges for cities. It also looks at the role which the Smart City concept plays, the opportunities for business and the role of government in strengthening UK capability. (9 October 2013)

DBIS: Deputy Prime Minister launches £300 million regional growth pot: announces the launch of Round 5 of the Regional Growth Fund that will support high quality projects that will generate significant private sector investment and sustainable jobs. The closing date for applications is 9 December 2013. (11 October 2013)

DCLG: New support to help communities re-energise their high streets: announces the launch of a new £500,000 BID Loan Fund to help communities who wish to create a business improvement district (BID). The fund will be managed by British BIDs, who will offer loans of up to £50,000 to communities and business groups with the potential to successfully establish a new BID. (14 October 2013)

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

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Education

Ofsted: Religious education – Realising the potential: this report looks at the significant contribution that religious education (RE) makes to pupils’ academic and personal development and how it plays a key role in promoting social cohesion and the virtues of respect and empathy. it finds that the potential of RE was not being realised fully in the majority of the schools surveyed. The report identifies barriers to better RE and suggests ways in which the subject might be improved. The DfE is to establish a focus group that wil report to Ministers in April 2014. (6 October 2013)

DBIS: Competition issues in the Further Education sector: this guidance aims to support effective competition in the FE sector. It highlights potential impacts that certain business decisions can have on competition, and provides recommendations on how to mitigate these risks. (8 October 2013)

DfE: Review of the long term strategy for the Non-Maintained Special Schools sector: this letter from Peter Swift, Deputy Director, Independent Education and School Governance Division, announces that the DfE is to undertake a review of the long term strategy for the Non-Maintained Special Schools (NMSS) sector. There has been a growth in the range and diversity of provision for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in both the state funded and independent sectors and NMSS have become a much smaller group of school within a larger SEN sector. The review will look at the difficulties faced by NMSS because of these changes. (9 October 2013) 

DfE: High-needs funding arrangements in academic year 2014 to 2015: Peter Mucklow, National Director for Young People at the Education Funding Agency, has written to Directors of Children’s Services with out information on high-needs funding for 5- to 25-year-olds in the academic year 2014 to 2015. (10 October 2013)

DfE: Skills Minister writes to councils over teen participation concerns: reports that Matthew Hancock has written to 12 local authorities who are failing to track 16- to 18-year-olds' education or training involvement properly, in light of the release of new statistics which show that nationally 88% of 16- and 17-year-olds were in education or training as of June 2013 - up 1% on 2012. However, on average the activity of 4% of 16- and 17-year-olds is unknown and in some local authorities it is as high as 22%. (10 October 2013)

DfE: Reforming the accountability system for secondary schools: sets out the Government's response to the February 2013 consultation that proposed changes to the existing secondary school performance measures to reflect the significant reforms to GCSEs, and sought views on the publication of other data which could strengthen the secondary accountability system. There will be changes to the way that underperformance is measured and to the floor targets. Secondary school information will be published through a new data portal that will allow all interested groups - governors, parents, academics and civil society more widely - to analyse many aspects of school performance. (14 October 2013)

Buckinghamshire CC v HW [2013] UKUT 470 (AAC) (UT (AAC)): in this case, the Upper Tribunal considered the legislation governing a request for a special education needs assessment under s.329 of the Education Act 1996 when a child was about to move from primary to secondary education. It also discussed how a local authority should act pending a challenge to the First-tier Tribunal’s decision.
The Tribunal held that, although the assessment must be made on the basis of evidence that related to the past and present, the statutory test inevitably directed attention to something that would happen after the assessment had been made. The purpose of the assessment involved identifying provision necessary to meet a child’s needs and it was impossible to ignore a change of circumstances in the near future. Where the tribunal was hearing an appeal on a child’s very last day at primary school, there might be practical problems in making an assessment when the evidence would predominantly, if not exclusively, relate to a situation that would shortly pass, but there was no reason in principle why it should not take account of the future, subject to the practical evidential problems that this might involve.
The Tribunal then gave guidance on how local authorities should proceed if they wished to challenge a decision of the First-tier Tribunal (FTT). A decision was binding as soon as it was promulgated by the FTT. That tribunal has power to suspend the effect of its decision under r.5(3)(l) of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Health, Education and Social Care Chamber) Rules 2008 (SI 2008/2699) pending the determination of an application for permission to appeal. The Upper Tribunal had power to suspend under r.5(3)(m) of the Tribunal Procedure (Upper Tribunal) Rules 2008 (SI 2008/2698). The sooner that a local authority applied for permission to appeal to either tribunal, the sooner an application for suspension could be considered. (20 September 2013)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

House of Commons Library: The Public Sector Equality Duty and equality impact assessments – Commons Library Standard Note: this note outlines the development and operation of the Public Sector Equality Duty contained in s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 that requires public authorities to have due regard to a number of equality considerations when exercising their functions. The note also provides an overview of Equality Impact Assessments. These are assessments that public authorities often carry out prior to implementing a policy, with a view to ascertaining its potential impact on equality. They are not required by law, although are a way of facilitating and evidencing compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty. The note provides a useful summary of recent case law on this Duty. (11 October 2013)

R (T) v Sheffield City Council [2013] EWHC 2953 (QB) (Admin Ct): T and three other mothers applied for judicial review of the Council's decision to stop paying subsidies to 20 nurseries in its area. They contended that in reaching this decision, the Council had breached its duty to consult, its Public Sector Equality Duty and its best value duty.
The court held, refusing the applicaiton, that councils were democratically elected to make decisions and some of these were bound to be contentious and unpopular. Ultimately, however, the decision in this case, controversial as it undoubtedly was, complied with the standards imposed by public law and must remain undisturbed. (4 October 2013)

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

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Finance

Welsh Government: Local authority funding announced: the Welsh Local Government and GGovernment Business Minster Lesley Griffiths has announced the provisional local government settlement for 2014-15. The £4.26bn settlement represents a reduction of 3.5% compared to the previous year, when adjusted for transfers. She also outlined a number of steps she has taken to ease the burden on local government in managing difficult financial decisions, as well as help to sustain crucial local services and continue to ensure the best outcomes for the people of Wales. (16 October 2013)

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

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Governance

SOLACE: Asking the right questions: this report looks at the current and future skills requirements of local authority Chief Executives. It identifies new ‘contextual’ skills that require Chief Executives to lead their communities, be entrepreneurial, innovative and motivational during difficult times. All of these skills themselves will need to be underpinned by a set of explicit values, attitudes and behaviours and good political understanding skills. (9 October 2013)

HC Communities and Local Government Committee: Post-legislative scrutiny of the Greater London Authority Act 2007 and the London Assembly: this report critically examines government in London, looking at the operation of the London Assembly and the division of powers between the Assembly and the Mayor. It finds that the legislation, while enhancing the powers of the London Mayor, has built anomalies and confusion into the powers and operation of the London Assembly. The Committee states that the Assembly is neither a council nor a legislature and has only 25 members. Its main job is to hold the Mayor to account, but he can appoint Assembly Members to his cabinet while they continue to sit in the Assembly. It asks how the public are supposed to disentangle a situation in which an Assembly Member can hold the executive to account in one area while working on behalf of the executive in another. The Committee calls for the Assembly’s powers and job to be made consistent and clear, and for it to have a clearer and easily recognisable scrutiny function. (16 October 2013)

R (Buck) v Doncaster MBC [2013] EWCA Civ 1190 (CA):  the Court of Appeal has ruled that full Council could not dictate how the Executive should operate a particular service by requiring the Executive to spend all the money which it provided for that service.
B appealed against a decision that the MBC's Mayor and Cabinet had not acted unlawfully in refusing to implement a budget amendment agreed by the full Council with a two-thirds majority. Following a review, the Mayor decided to restructure the delivery of library services in the borough, including closing two libraries and replacing employed staff in some libraries with volunteers or self service facilities. His draft Budget for 2012/13 included a proposed reduction in the Customer Services & ICT budget of £533,000, most of which was attributed to the changes to the library service. The full Council voted not to approve the Mayor's Budget but instead voted, with a two-thirds majority, to approve an amended Budget that included an amendment that would be sufficient to maintain the same library services that there had been in the past. The Mayor refused to accept the amendment and continued to implement his programme of restructuring the library services. B contended that the Mayor had acted unlawfully in going against the wishes of the full Council. The court refused the application.
The Court of Appeal held, dismissing the appeal, that the Council's Budget amendment merely provided a contingency sum, rather than including that sum in the approved budget for library services. So on the wording of the amendment, a decision by the Mayor not to spend the contingency sum was not contrary to the approved budget for library services. It then went on to consider what the position would have been if the Council had actually increased the libraries budget by the inclusion of the contingency sum. It stated that a decision not to spend the whole of the sum allocated in the Budget to a particular "head of expenditure" would not constitute a "departure decision", and so was within the Executive's discretion. (8 October 2013)
See Bevan Brittan's article Executive and non-executive decisions in the light of Doncaster in which we look at the implications of this decision for conflicts between Executive and Council, particularly where there is a directly elected Mayor.

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

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Housing

DCLG: Consultation on protecting local authority leaseholders from unreasonable charges: seeks views on a proposal to update the Mandatory Directions to councils to include in the programmes described in the 1997 Directions all central government funding for repair, maintenance or improvement, including Decent Homes Grant from the 2013 Spending Review. The proposal is to have a £10,000 cap on leaseholder works on homes outside London, and £15,000 on homes within London. The consultation closes on 18 November 2013. (7 October 2013)

DCLG: Providing social housing for local people – Strengthening statutory guidance on social housing allocations: seeks views on proposals to issue new statutory guidance on social housing allocations for local authorities in England, to assist them to use the allocation flexibilities in the Localism Act 2011 to meet the needs of local residents and local communities and to encourage them to be open and transparent about who is applying for and being allocated social housing in their local area. The consultation closes on 22 November 2013. (14 October 2013)

DCLG: Tenancy cheats to face full force of the law: highlights the coming into force of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, which creates new criminal offences of unlawful sub-letting by secure and assured tenants of social housing. Social landlords now have power to recover the proceeds of unlawful sub-letting and anyone found guilty of committing this tenancy fraud will face a fine and a custodial sentence of up to two years. (15 October 2013)

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

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Parish Councils

DCLG: Sustainable Communities Act 2007 – Invitation to town and parish councils: the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Stephen Williams has written to town and parish councils inviting them to submit proposals under the 2007 Act. This provides an opportunity for town and parish councils to engage with the local community and ask for their ideas about how the community can be improved. If there are barriers to the implementation of these ideas they can use the Act to ask the Government to remove them. The barriers can be in legislation or guidance or they may be the result of established practice. The invitation explains the process for submitting proposals. (17 October 2013)

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

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Pensions

DCLG: Pooling arrangements for Academies within the Local Government Pension Scheme: seeks views on some options for pooling. It also invites comments about how best stability of academy employer contribution rates can be achieved. It is aimed at academies, local authorities and administering authorities of the Local Government Pension Scheme. There is also guidance on Academy arrangements and the Local Government Pension Scheme. The consultation closes on 15 November 2013. (7 October 2013)

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

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Public Health

DH: Directors of Public Health in local government – Roles, responsibilities and context: this statutory guidance describes both the statutory and non-statutory elements of the Director of Public Health (DPH) function and sets out principles critical to their appointment, to delivery of an effective public health strategy and to other aspects of their relationship with their employer and the Secretary of State. (14 October 2013)

DH: Directors of Public Health in local government – Guidance on appointing directors of public health: non-statutory guidance setting out arrangements that are designed to allow local authorities to have confidence in the DPH appointments they make, build on their own good practice, while meeting national requirements set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2013 and statutory guidance. The new arrangements took effect from 1 April 2013 and this guidance applies to appointments made after that date. (14 October 2013)

Public Health England: Consultants in public health in local authorities and Higher Education Institutions – Guidance on appointing consultants in public health: sets out arrangements that are designed to provide local authorities and higher education institutions with confidence in the public health consultant and consultant academic appointments they make, build on their own good practice, while providing a risk managed and quality assured process. (14 October 2013)

LGA: Changing behaviours in public health – to nudge or to shove?: this briefing for councillors and officers explains how behavioural change interventions ("nudge theory ") can help local authorities fulfil their public health responsibilities. (14 October 2013) 

LGA / NHS England: Next steps on implementing the Integration Transformation Fund: in August 2013 the LGA  announced £3.8bn funding to ensure closer integration between health and social care. It has now written to local authorities and CCGs outlining the next steps in relation to the Integration Transformation Fund. (17 October 2013) 

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

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Regulatory Services

DfT: Blue Badge scheme – Enforcement changes: this circular provides information on changes to legislation affecting the day-to-day administration and enforcement of the Blue Badge scheme by local authorities. In particular, it describes new powers for local authorities to retain badges following on-street inspections and to employ enforcement officers in plain clothes. (8 October 2013)

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

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Transport

DfT: Concessionary travel for older and disabled people – Guidance on reimbursing bus operators for concessionary travel: this guidance is solely concerned with how Travel Concessions Authorities (TCAs) in England reimburse bus operators for concessionary travel in accordance with the legal requirements. The DfT intends that this guidance will assist TCAs in their compliance with legal requirements, in particular European regulation No 1370/2007. The guidance applies to schemes commencing on or after 1 April 2014. (7 October 2013)

DfT: Bus subsidy reform – Letter to local councils about devolving funding for tendered services: gives local authorities the Government’s initial estimate of how much grant it will pay them from January 2014. It follows the decision to devolve part of the Bus Service Operators Grant budget to local councils rather than pay it to bus operators. The final figures will be sent out later in the year. (16 October 2013)

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

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Welfare Reform

London Councils: Tracking welfare reform – Meeting the financial challenge: this report highlights some of the potential financial challenges for London local authorities that result directly from welfare reform and calls for an urgent review of the cost of welfare reform for the city. It finds that Government reforms to welfare are having a significant and growing impact on the cost of delivering local authority services. The figures show that 4,600 London households in private sector temporary accommodation could be unable to pay their rent in full because of the benefit cap. The capital’s local authorities have to pick up the shortfall – on average £105 per week per household - leaving them potentially £25m worse off per year, and threatening funding for services such as waste and recycling, and highways. (3 October 2013)

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

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