Legal intelligence for professionals in local government.

This update contains brief details of recent Government publications, legislation, cases and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work, which have been published in the previous two weeks. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

If you have been forwarded this update by a colleague and would like to receive it direct please email Claire Booth.

All links are correct at the date of publication. The following topics are covered in this update:

   Access to Information    Finance
   Adult Social Services    Housing
   Children's Services    Licensing
   Delivery of Services    Police
   Development Control    Public Health
   Duty of Care    Regulatory Services
   Economic Development    Transport
   Education    Welfare Reform

Access to Information

DCLG: Pay policy statement 2013-14: this letter from Fire Minister Brandon Lewis to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough FRA reminds all local and fire authorities of their duty under the Localism Act 2011 to publish pay policy statements. (22 October 2013)

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

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Adult Social Services

LGIU: Tracking your preventative spend – A step by step guide: the LGiU, with the support of Mears and the British Red Cross, worked with Camden Council to pilot a new approach to mapping preventative budgets against one of the council’s key outcomes from the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework, namely to keep older people living independently for longer. This guide sets out the five steps to mapping and analysing spend, covering the practical steps taken, the outputs and challenges of each step. (16 October 2013)

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

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Children's Services

Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (Commencement No. 5) (England) Order 2013 (SI 2013/2606 (C.103)): s.1 of the 2008 Act provides that a local authority may enter into arrangements with a provider of social work services for the discharge of some or all of the authority's care functions. To date, this Part of the Act has only been brought into force in relation to 20 pilot local authorities. This Order brings s.1 fully into force on 12 November 2013. It also brings s.4 (regulation of providers of social work services) into force on that same date. (16 October 2013)

Providers of Social Work Services (England) Regulations (SI 2013/2668): these regulations, which come into force on 12 November 2013, introduce a registration regime in relation to providers of social work services who enter into delegation arrangements with local authorities under Part 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008. They also disapply the Care Standards Act (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010 in relation to those providers of social work services. (16 October 2013)

DfE: Care leaver strategy: this cross-departmental strategy sets out the steps the Government is taking to support care leavers to live independently once they have left their placement. The new strategy includes a wide range of commitments from Government to improve the help and support available to young people leaving care across all areas of life. All young people leaving care will be able to see exactly what support is available to them as they take the first steps into adult life. (29 October 2013)

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

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Delivery of Services

DCLG: Local digital today: the Local Digital campaign, promoted by DCLG and the LGA, aims to accelerate councils’ use of digital tools and technologies to transform public service, working with councils, their public and private sector partners. This report summarises the findings from a survey of local authorities on how councils are adapting to new technology. It shows that that while 6 in 10 councils are already reporting savings from their digital endeavours, 40% of councils are yet to drive efficiencies from digital programmes. 91% of respondents believed that digital technology would help provide services at lower cost, while 84% felt that online and mobile applications could improve the quality of their interactions with the public. (24 October 2013)

LGA: Council Leaders' key actions for innovation: outlines the key lessons from research into examining how local leading politicians can encourage innovation to flourish in their councils. "Innovations" are defined as changes to services, products,  ways of working, organisational arrangement or democratic approaches that are both new to the council and deliver additional value for its residents, service users and/or businesses. The research found that the leading politicians interviewed were taking many of the actions that help to foster innovation. However, very few were taking a fully comprehensive, strategic approach to achieving more innovation. (23 October 2013)

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

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Development Control

DCLG: Simplified regulations will make planning easier: announces the start of a phased programme to reduce the number of technical planning regulations by 57% down to 78, as part of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge to make sensible changes to regulatory burdens. The changes will:

  • consolidate the rules on permitted development which have been amended 17 times and need an overhaul to make them easier to understand;
  • tackle unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements in the application process; and
  • scrap 38 redundant regulations that are no longer needed.

For details, see Red Tape Challenge - Planning Administration: List of Regulations to be improved or scrapped. (29 October 2013)

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

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Duty of Care

Woodland v Essex CC [2013] UKSC 66 (Sup Ct): W appealed against the court's decision that the council, ECC, did not owe her a non-delegable duty of care. W was a 10 year old pupil at one of ECC's schools. She suffered severe brain damage after being injured during a swimming lesson at a swimming pool operated by another council. The lesson had been arranged by ECC but was supervised by a lifeguard and a teacher who both were employed by an independent contractor that provided the swimming lessons. W claimed damages against ECC for personal injuries, contending that ECC owed her a non-delegable duty of care in the capacity in loco parentis. The Court of Appeal dismissed W's appeal, finding that, on the facts, there was not a relevant non-delegable duty of care which would lead to ECC's liability if negligence were found on the part of the contractor or of the swimming teacher.
The Supreme Court allowed W's appeal. The issue of vicarious liability did not arise here as any liability of ECC for breach of its duty to pupils in its care was personal, not vicarious. The court discussed the criteria that would give rise to a non-delegable duty of care. This duty had three critical characteristics:

  1. It arose not from the negligent character of the act itself but because of an antecedent relationship between the defendant and the claimant.
  2. The duty was a positive or affirmative duty to protect a particular class of persons against a particular class of risks, and not simply a duty to refrain from acting in a way that foreseeably causes injury.
  3. The duty was by virtue of that relationship personal to the defendant. The delegation of the work required to perform the duty made no difference to the defendant's legal responsibility for the proper performance of a duty which was in law his own.

The court found that on the limited facts pleaded or admitted, ECC had assumed a duty to ensure that W's swimming lessons were carefully conducted and supervised, by whomever they might get to perform these functions. The teaching and the supervisory functions of the school, and the control of the child that went with them, were delegated by the school to the independent contractors, to the extent necessary to enable them to give swimming lessons. The alleged negligence occurred in the course of the very functions which the school assumed an obligation to perform and delegated to its contractors. It followed that if the latter were negligent in performing those functions and the child was injured as a result, the authority was in breach of duty. (23 October 2013)
Bevan Brittan has published an article which examines the Supreme Court's judgment and explains its significance for local authorities: Public bodies and independent contractors – Supreme Court rules on non-delegable duty of care.

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

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Economic Development

DBIS: A strategy for future retail – Industry and government delivering in partnership: this policy paper provides a government overview of the UK retail sector and its role in national and local economies. It explores the main challenges facing retail now and in the future, and looks at some of the primary barriers to growth and performance. The second part of the paper sets out actions to support the growth and performance of the UK retail sector, both domestically and internationally. The actions include working smarter locally by identifying and promoting the best practices in local policy delivery, and by promoting to LEPs and local authorities the important role of retail in local and regional economies, so that decision makers can take retail seriously in their strategies for economic growth and performance. (23 October 2013)

DCLG: High Street Renewal Fund report 2013: the High Street Renewal Fund rewarded areas already delivering the most effective and innovative plans to bring their town centres back to life. A panel of experts visited areas bidding for the funding to evaluate the projects in terms of innovation, effectiveness, the transformative nature of the changes, how replicable the ideas are for elsewhere, and their ability to promote good practice. This report presents seven case studies of towns benefiting from the Fund, each displaying creativity, excellence and local decision making in towns and cities from right across the country. (23 October 2013)

DPM's Office: City deal to unlock young people's potential in Thames Valley Berkshire: announces that the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Cities Minister Greg Clark have signed a City Deal with local businesses and leaders from Reading, West Berkshire, Wokingham, Bracknell, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead councils as part of the second wave of City Deals. The new programme will support 4,500 young people and create 1,500 new work experience placements, 300 new apprenticeships and 800 new Youth Contract Wage Incentives for eligible businesses. (28 October 2013)
The Deputy Prime Minister has also signed the Greater Ipswich City Deal under the second wave of City Deals. The new programme will support 3,500 young people into work in the Greater Ipswich area, increase local private and public investment in skills by at least £10m, create 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2019 and create 3,000 additional high value jobs and 400 new businesses across Suffolk and Norfolk. (30 October 2013)

RSA 2020 Public Services: City Growth Commission open call for evidence: announces the launch of a major new inquiry into how best to enable England’s major cities to drive growth and respond to the fiscal and economic challenges of the future. The Commission will be chaired by Jim O’Neill, retiring Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and will be hosted and run by RSA 2020 Public Services with support from the Core Cities Group, the Mayor of London, and London Councils. It is seeking views from stakeholders such as business representatives, academics and policymakers on a number of questions, to inform its final report. The closing date for submissions is 17 January 2014.  (28 October 2013)

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

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DfE: Allocations for extended rights to free travel and general duty to promote sustainable travel, 2013 to 2015: detail additional transport funding allocations to local authorities for 2013 to 2014 (£37.9m) and 2014 to 2015 (£25.1m) to support children from low-income families to be able to attend schools further from home than the statutory walking distances. The funding is paid as a non-ring-fenced grant paid via DCLG under the Local Services Support Grant. (22 October 2013)

School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2103/2688): these regulations, which come into force on 14 November 2013, amend SI 2013/1624 to insert a requirement, omitted from the 2013 Regulations in error, that papers must, subject to specific exceptions, be circulated in advance of meetings both of governing bodies and of committees of governing bodies of maintained schools; they also clarify that the power the governing body has to approve alternative arrangements for governors to participate or vote in meetings of the governing body, extends to meetings of committees of the governing body. (21 October 2013)

LGA: Back to school – Ways for scrutiny to influence local education and support school leaders to improve results: this publication helps councils to understand the different ways to keep in touch with schools and to identify opportunities for scrutiny to influence local education, support school leaders and help improve school results. The case studies identify the need for closer links with school leaders, for better communication between councillors and local schools and for greater support and training for both councillors and school governors. They also show that council scrutiny can challenge all providers on their contribution to wider issues as well as school results. (23 October 2013) 

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

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DCLG: Community Budgets – Progress toward national adoption: this speech by DCLG Minister Brandon Lewis at a New Local Government Network event gives details of progress with the four Whole Place Community Budget pilots, highlights key issues that are already arising and gives examples of how Government is supporting the roll-out of service transformation across the country. (25 October 2013)

Funding for Local Authorities Bill: this Private Member's Bill has been introduced in the Commons by Gisela Stuart MP and received its 1st Reading. It proposes that a Commission is established to identify the changes in the law necessary to provide for the differing requirements for funding of local authorities taking into account the varying demand for the services they provide. the Commission would address the currently broken model for financing and running local government in general, and our big cities in particular. The Bill's 2nd reading is scheduled for 29 November 2013.(23 October 2013)

DCLG: Community Infrastructure Levy – Consultation on further regulatory reforms: Government response: sets out the Government’s proposed changes to the CIL, following the April 2013 consultation. The Government will now develop regulations and guidance to implement the amendments in line with the majority of the proposals, including the proposed exemption from the levy for self-build homes. It also sets out variations to the original proposals in light of responses. (25 October 2013) 

HC Public Accounts Committee: The New Homes Bonus: this report examines the implementation and the achievement to date of the New Homes Bonus, which was introduced as a financial incentive for local authorities to encourage the building of new homes. The New Homes Bonus is a non-ring-fenced payment made to local authorities since April 2011 for every home added to the council tax register. To partly fund the Bonus, DCLG allocated £950m in specific grant for the four years to March 2015. In addition, each year the Bonus is financed by redistribution from within DCLG’s main formula funding for local authorities, with £599m redistributed so far. The Committee finds that, more than two years into the scheme, DCLG has not evaluated whether the New Homes Bonus is changing how local authorities approach the creation of new homes. The Committee makes a number of recommendations iabout DCLG's planned evaluation. It will be essential, but challenging, for the evaluation to disentangle the direct impact of the scheme from the effects of other interventions, such as Help to Buy and the Empty Homes capital grants programme, and from other changes to local authority funding arrangements. (31 October 2013)

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

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LGO: No place like home – Councils’ use of unsuitable bed & breakfast accommodation for homeless families and young people: this focus report  highlights the human impact of councils' inappropriate use of bed and breakfast to house the most vulnerable. The paper sets out examples of good practice and what can go wrong. It shows the serious impact of unsuitable accommodation on families and young people and suggests how councils can prevent others from suffering in a similar way. (16 October 2013)

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

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DCMS: Consultation on a proposal to use a Legislative Reform Order to make changes to entertainment licensing: seeks views on proposals to amend the Licensing Act 2003 so that certain entertainment activities in defined circumstances no longer require a licence before they can take place. These cover a range of licensing exemptions for lower risk activities and also the conditional relaxation of existing controls on live and recorded music. The changes would be made by means of a Legislative Reform Order. The consultation closes on 17 December 2013. (23 October 2013) 

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

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London Councils: Reducing reoffending in London – Why investing in local solutions will deliver: this report looks at local government’s role in reducing reoffending in the capital. It calls for a greater role for councils in the Government’s reforms for the rehabilitation of offenders. It considers how the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms might affect joint working between local authorities, probation and the police to tackle reoffending at a local level. (16 October 2013)

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

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Public Health

PHE: Cold weather plan for England 2013: PHE has launched its Cold Weather Plan for 2013, which alerts people to the negative health effects of cold weather, enabling them to prepare and respond appropriately. The emphasis of this year’s plan is on long term planning and winter action and preparedness (levels 0 and 1). The plan is accompanied by a letter to local authority public health officers on the key points of the plan and what they can do to help prevent cold-related illnesses, before cold weather sets in. There is also an Action Card that provides a checklist of action to take at each of the five alert levels. (25 October 2013)

LGA: Community pharmacy – Local government's new public health role: this public health resource sheet looks at the contribution of community pharmacy to local public health services. It includes information on local government statutory responsibilities for community pharmacy and several case studies that illustrate the potential of community pharmacy as a key public health resource. (24 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

HC Transport Committee: Local authority parking enforcement: the Committee makes a number of recommendations regarding local authority parking, including that parking charges and other parking restrictions should be set to manage congestion and ensure that there is clear and fair access to public roads. it states that the setting of parking charges in order to raise revenue is not only unacceptable in public policy terms, it is illegal, and that every local authority should publish an annual parking report to show precisely where their parking revenues come from and how any income is being used. (23 October 2013)

LGA: Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 – Applications guide: the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 replaces the previous registration system for scrap metal dealers and establishes a new licensing regime in its place. This guide assists councils to implement the application process. It includes a template application form and model licences. (22 October 2013)

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

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DfT: £1.4 million to cut bus pollution: announces funding to five local authorities under the Clean Bus technology Fund to cut pollution from buses, improving air quality in towns and cities across England. The five local authorities will each receive grants of between £23,700 and £750,000 to retrofit the buses using Selective Catalytic Reduction technology fitted to exhaust systems to reduce pollutants. (28 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

DWP: Personal Independence Payment – What PIP means for local authorities: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a new disability benefit being introduced to better reflect today’s understanding of disability. It is being rolled out to existing claimants of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from 28 October 2013. The new benefit is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives and includes a new face-to-face assessment and regular reviews. This publication explains how PIP, as the replacement for DLA, will remain the main way of getting (‘passporting’ to) other disability benefits and services such as council tax reduction schemes, blue badge scheme, concessionary travel and housing benefit.
See also the Quick guide to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for local authorities.
DWP has published a Personal Independence Payment toolkit for individuals and organisations that support PIP and DLA claimants, to equip them to offer up-to-date advice on PIP or direct claimants to other sources of help. (28 October 2013)

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

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