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 four 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    Judicial Review
   Children's Services    London
   Commons and Village Greens    Neighbourhood Planning
   Community Rights    Officers
   Defamation     Pensions
   Delivery of Services    Police
   Development Control    Procurement
   Economic Development    Public Health
   Education    Regulatory Services
   Elections    Standards 
   Energy    Transport
   Finance    Wales
   Housing    Welfare Reform

Adult Social Services

House of Commons Library: Care Bill [HL] – Commons Library research note: the Care Bill that is currently before Parliament proposes to consolidate existing legislation for adult social care in England into a single framework, and introduce reforms to the way care and support is accessed and funded. It also includes reforms to the regulation of health services and care standards, and establishes Health Education England (HEE) and the Health Research Authority (HRA) as statutory non-departmental public bodies. The Bill was introduced in the House of Lords. This paper has been written for its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons on 16 December 2013. (11 December 2013)

Winterbourne Review: Transforming care one year on: this report summarises the changes to improve the quality of care for vulnerable people following the Winterbourne View review. it focuses on care for people with learning disabilities or autism who also have mental health conditions or behavioural problems. (13 December 2013)

NHS England / LGA: Developing plans for the Better Care Fund (formerly the Integration Transformation Fund): the £3.8bn Better Care Fund (formerly Integration Transformation Fund) was announced by the Government in the June 2013 Spending Round, to ensure a transformation in integrated health and social care. The BCF is a single pooled budget to support health and social care services to work more closely together in local areas. All Health and Wellbeing Board areas must submit their draft planning template by 14 February 2014, setting out how they will use their portion of the fund to join up health and care services around the needs of patients, so that people can stay at home more and be in hospital less. This guidance provides local areas with the detail they need to complete these plans. The National Conditions set out the things that each plan must consider, such as 7-day services and steps to improve data sharing; and £1bn of the fund will be linked to improvements achieved in outcomes for local people to ensure the money is being spent in the right way. There is also Technical Guidance. The LGA website has further information and resources about the Fund. (20 December 2013)

DH: Care Bill factsheet 19 – Better Care Fund: this factsheet describes how the Care Bill will facilitate a Better Care Fund to promote closer working between the NHS and Care and Support. (10 January 2014)

See also our Alert: Integration Transformation Fund - Key issues for local authorities.

Bevan Brittan are holding a Health and Social Care seminar in each of our offices in February. The seminar will look at developments in Health and Social Care from the view point of local authorities, covering: Health and Well Being Boards; the integration agenda; s75 agreements, the Care Bill, Health Scrutiny and contracting to deliver Public Health. For more information and to book a place, see our website.

Welsh Government: Welsh declaration of the rights of older people: seeks views on a proposed declaration that sets out the rights that older people have, to help statutory bodies and service providers who work for, or on behalf of, older people to know what is expected in Wales. It will also help older people to know what their rights are by clearly setting out their entitlements. It includes guidance on what is expected to ensure older people receive the support and services they need. The consultation closes on 15 March 2014. (13 December 2013)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Adoption – £50 million funding boost and new interactive maps: announces the publication of fully interactive, clickable maps to help would-be adopters find out more about agencies in their area and across the country, help them make an informed choice based on performance and help them access the most appropriate recruitment agency for them. The Children and Families Minster has also announced £50m for local authorities as they prepare to implement reforms and work with voluntary adoption agencies and each other to recruit more adopters for the 6,000 children waiting for a loving home, and a new adoption leadership board supporting local authorities drive through the reforms in the Children and Families Bill, and help adoption agencies stay on track recruiting more adoptive parents. The rpess release also gives details of further reforms to be implemented in 2014. (19 December 2013)

DfE: Consultation on improving safeguarding for looked after children – Changes to the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010: Government response: sets out the results of the Government’s consultation on proposed amendments to SI 2010/959 to strengthen safeguards for looked after children in distant out-of-authority placements. It announces changes to residential care that will result in much stricter scrutiny of local authorities’ decisions about where children are placed. In future, only the Director of Children’s Services will be able to place children out of area and only when they judge it to be the right decision for a child to be moved away from their home area, and the placing local authority must consult with the local authority where the child will be placed, prior to placement. The DfE will issue guidance about the out-of-authority placement process. (3 January 2014)

Children’s Homes and Looked after Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3239): these regulations, which mainly come into force on 27 January 2014, amend the Children’s Homes Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/3967) and the Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2130) so as to improve the safeguarding of children accommodated in children’s homes, the quality of care that homes provide and the monitoring and reporting on that care. They also improve transparency by increasing the range of information about a home that members of the public can obtain. They also amend the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010  and the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 to introduce new safeguards aimed at preventing children from going missing from placements, and supporting children who go missing, or are at risk of going missing. (18 December 2013)
See also DfE: Consultation on reforming children's homes care – Consultation on changes to the Children's Homes Regulations 2001 (as amended) and the Care Standards Act 2000 (Registration) (England) Regulations 2010: Government response: sets out the results of the consultation on changes to SI 2001/3967 and SI 2010/2130. The DfE will issue new statutory guidance. (3 January 2014)

DfE: Local authority roles in the youth contract for 16 and 17 year olds: this updated note provides background information on the Youth Contract, including details on procurement and how the programme will work. It focuses support for disengaged 16 and 17 year olds NEETs to move them into education, training or employment with training. This strand is managed by the Education Funding Agency and is delivered across England over 12 regional ‘lots’ by six prime contractors through a ‘payment by results’ model. (3 January 2014) 

Welsh Government: Draft Children’s Rights Scheme 2014: seeks views on a draft revised Scheme under s.2 of the 'Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. The Scheme sets out the arrangements that Welsh Ministers will have in place to have due regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child when exercising any of their ministerial functions. The consultation closes on  March 2014. (7 January 2014)

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

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Commons and Village Greens

DEFRA: Guidance for the completion of form CA16 – Making a statement or declaration under section of 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 or a statement under section 15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006: guidance for landowners on completing the form for making any of the following in relation to their land:

  • a ‘landowner statement’ under s.15A(1) of the Commons Act 2006 for town and village green purposes;
  • a statement and/or declaration under s.31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 for presumed dedication of highways purposes.

The guidance does not provide comprehensive advice on the law for highways or town and village greens. The completed application should be submitted to the top-tier local authority for the area in which the land is situated. (18 December 2013)

DEFRA: Guidance to commons registration authorities in England – Sections 15A to 15C of the Commons Act 2006: new version of guidance that outlines changes to Sections 15A to 15C of the Commons Act 2006 concerning landowner statements and registers and exclusion of the right to apply under s.15(1) to register new town or village greens. The guidance reflects a number of significant changes to the law on registering new town and village greens under the Commons Act 2006, made in April 2013 under the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013. This version updates the previous guidance to make clear DEFRA’s view that for a declaration to be effective as evidence against presumed dedication it must be lodged after the deposit of a statement, not at the same time. (9 January 2014)

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

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Community Rights

HM Treasury / Cabinet Office: Right to Contest – New plan to speed up sale of public land and property: announces a further community right, the Right to Contest, that enables communities, local authorities and businesses to challenge the use of central government land and property, both vacant and occupied. Applicants must say why they believe the site is potentially surplus and could be put to better economic use. Only if the location is vital for operational use or there are overriding reasons will it not be released to the open market. Right to Contest applications will go before a committee comprising Ministers from the Treasury, Cabinet Office and the landholding department. See also the detailed guidance. (8 January 2014)

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

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MoJ: Complaints about defamatory material posted on websites – Guidance on Section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 and Regulations: Section 5 of the 2013 Act creates a new defence to an action for defamation brought against the operator of a website hosting user-generated content. To benefit from the defence the operator must comply with a process prescribed in the Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3028) on receipt of a notice of complaint about allegedly defamatory material that has been posted on the website. This document provides guidance for all those involved on how to use the Section 5 process. There are also answers to some frequently asked questions. (2 January 2014)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Wesley O'Brien.

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Delivery of Services

DCLG: Guidance on weekly rubbish collections – Delivering a frequent, comprehensive service: guidance for local authorities on how they can and should deliver weekly rubbish collections. The so-called "bins bible" shows how councils can deliver a comprehensive and frequent rubbish and recycling collection service, and deliver practical savings from common sense steps that do not harm the quality of the service that local taxpayers receive. It also demolishes the “top 10 tall stories” that “bin barons” have used as excuses to cut the frequency of rubbish collection services. The guidance includes examples of local authorities that have kept weekly collections while increasing recycling and making efficiency savings. (6 January 2014)

DCLG: Central and local government team up to improve local service delivery: announces the launch of a new fund to help local authorities transform their services through the use of new delivery models such as mutuals and voluntary organisations.
Delivering Differently is a joint programme between the Cabinet Office, DCLG, the LGA and SOLACE that will use a £1m fund to support 10 pioneering local authorities to develop and implement new models for delivering some of their services. The Delivering Differently Challenge will provide 10 authorities with up to £100,000 of support to spearhead transformative projects. This includes bespoke professional support to enable them to undertake a strategic review of all available options, guidance from an expert panel and opportunities to network and share their experiences with other Challenge authorities.
Full details, guidance and application criteria are set out in the Delivering Differently prospectus. Local authorities must submit their expression of interest by 10 February 2014. (10 January 2014)

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

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Development Control

DCMS: Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act – Secondary legislation to accompany the Heritage Provisions: A consultation: seeks views on three sets of draft regulations relating to Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreements, Local Listed Building Consent Orders and Certificates of Lawfulness of Proposed Works. The regulatons are made under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, which simplifies the listed building consent system. The proposals focus on removing red tape without changing the existing levels of protection for listed buildings. Local authorities will still have a duty to consider the impact of any proposals on the special architectural and historic character of the listed buildings affected. The paper also considers the principles and approach in taking forward a programme of National Listed Building Consent Orders. The consultation closes on 27 January 2014. (16 December 2013)

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

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Economic Development

DBIS: Assisted Areas Map 2014 to 2020 – Stage 2: this is the second stage of the consultation on the draft proposal for a new Assisted Areas Map that would show the areas where regional aid can be offered to undertakings under state aid rules for the period 2014 to 2020. This consultation seek views on the draft Assisted Areas Map, taking into consideration the Government’s response to the first stage consultation, and the need to comply with the Commission’s regional aid guidelines. There is also  an interactive map of the draft 2014 to 2020 UK Assisted Areas Map. (18 December 2013)

Welsh Government: £10 million capital fund to support projects to tackle poverty launched: announces a new capital fund to support community projects that contribute to the Welsh Government’s ambition to reduce poverty across Wales. Community and voluntary groups, as well as social enterprises will be able to bid for capital grants of up to £500,000 to improve community facilities which provide services for people most in need in their local areas. (10 January 2014)

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

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DfE: Ministerial letter to London councils about additional £8 million funding: this letter from Elizabeth Truss, Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, informs London councils of additional funding in 2013/14 for the expansion of school nurseries from 8am to 6pm and delivery of the early years education entitlement for 2-year-olds. (16 December 2013)

DfE: Schools Revenue Funding Settlement 2014 to 2015: announces the basic need capital allocations for 2015 - 2017, as well as capital funding to support the provision of free school meals to infant pupils, along with the School Funding Settlement for 2014-15, including allocations for the Dedicated Schools Grant and for the Education Services Grant. As well as the £800m 2014/15 capital allocation announced on 1 March 2013, DfE has allocated an additional £2.35bn for additional pupil places for the period 2015 - 2017 and £150m capital to support the universal infant free school meals entitlement in 2014/15. (18 December 2013)
See also:

DfE: LA allocations for early learning for 2-year-olds – 2014 to 2015: the Government has announced  £755m funding to provide 15 hours a week of free childcare for the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds from September next year. This document sets out the individual local authority allocations to fund this extended early learning programme for 2014/15. There is also an estimate of the number of eligible 2-year-olds, with information on the estimated number of children eligible for government-funded places from September 2014 at sub-local authority level. (18 December 2013)

DfE: Appeals against admissions survey 2014 – Guide: guidance for local authorities to help them complete and return the Appeals against Admissions survey (APAD) 2014. (16 December 2013)

DfE: Schools exclusions survey 2014 – Early warning letter: guidance for local authorities so they can prepare for the Schools Exclusion survey 2014 (formerly known as the Appeals Against Exclusion survey). This letter contains information on: timescales of the survey; advice on recording information for schools who are transitioning to become academies; and COLLECT (Collections Online - Learners, Education, Children and Teachers) registration details. (17 December 2013)

DWP & DfE: Working together to support young people (NEET): guidance for  Jobcentre Plus and local authorities on how how data sharing regarding young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) could work in future. (18 December 2013)

DfE: Changes to the system of school organisation – Government response to the autumn 2013 consultation on school organisation changes: sets out the Government's response to the September 2013 consultation on proposals to reform the school organisation system that were designed to allow schools to make their own decisions about size and characteristics and to allow them to respond to what parents want locally without being unduly restricted by process. The new regulations implementing the proposals have now been made (see below). The Govenrment will publish guidance on the new regulations shortly, which will reiterate that there is a presumption against the closure of rural schools, and clarify issues around ownership of playing fields. (18 December 2013)

DfE: £30 million for new special educational needs champions: announces £30m funding to recruit and train a pool of ‘independent supporters’ - champions drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations to help the families of children and young people with special educational needs through the new process. The Council for Disabled Children will trial the training, recruitment and funding allocation. Private, voluntary and community sector organisations who believe they can offer independent supporters from within their ranks will be able to apply for funding in Spring 2014. (7 January 2014)

School Organisation (Establishment and Discontinuance of Schools) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3109): these regulations, which come into force on 28 January 2014, set out the process for publishing and determining proposals for the opening and closing of schools in England under Part 2 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. They revoke and replace SI 2007/1288. (18 December 2013)

School Organisation (Prescribed Alterations to Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3110): these regulations, which come into force on 28 January 2014, prescribe the process to be followed for maintained schools and local authorities to propose and implement changes to the size and characteristics of their schools under Part 2 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006. They revoke and replace SI 2007/1289.(18 December 2013)

Welsh in Education Strategic Plans and Assessing Demand for Welsh Medium Education (Wales) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3048 (W. 307)): these regulations, which come into force on 31 December 2013, set out the detailed requirements concerning Welsh in Education Strategic Plans under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013. Welsh local authorities are required by the Act requires a local authority to submit their draft Plan to the Welsh Ministers for approval prior to the Plan being published. Welsh Ministers may also require a local authority to carry out an assessment of the demand among parents in its area for Welsh medium education for their children. (5 December 2013)

School Admission Appeals Code (Appointed Day) (Wales) Order 2013 (SI 2013/3141 (W.314)): this Order appoints 1 January 2014 as the day onwhich the School Admission Appeals Code issued under ss.84 and 85 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 comes into force in relation to Wales. The Appeals Code replaces the School Admission Appeals Code which came into force on 15 July 2009. It reflects changes made to the 1998 Act since that date. (10 December 2013)

Local Authority (Duty to Secure Early Years Provision Free of Charge) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3193): local authorities have a duty under the new s.7 of the Childcare Act 2006 (inserted by s.1(2) of the Education Act 2011)  to secure early years provision free of charge for young children in their area who are under compulsory school age and of the prescribed description. These regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2014, prescribe the type and amount of free early years provision and the description of children to benefit from the provision. (19 December 2013)

Education (Pupil Information and School Performance Information) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3212): these regulations, which come into force on 12 February 2014, amend SI 2005/1437 to remove the requirement on schools to include assessment information in reports to parents or records transferred to another school at the end of key stage 3. They also amend SI 2007/2324 to remove the requirement on schools to report assessment information to the local authority or the Secretary of State at the end of key stage 3. (20 December 2013)

Education (Information About Individual Pupils) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3137 (W.310)): these regulations, which come into force on 13 January 2014, amend SI 2007/3562 (W.312) so as to require a governing body to provide to a local authority additional information in relation to permanent and fixed period exclusions of pupils. (12 December 2013)

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

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Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2013 (SI 2013/3197): this Order contains transitional provisions relating to the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) in Great Britain under Sch.5 to the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, which is expected to begin on 10 June 2014 in England and Wales and on 19 September 2014 in Scotland. The Order requires electoral registration officers throughout England, Wales and Scotland to undertake activities specific to the transition to IER, including confirmation data matching to ‘confirm’ electors onto the electoral register, and the letter and invitations sent to electors thereafter. The Order sets the dates for these activities and the annual canvasses in 2014 and 2015. (18 December 2013)

Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Description of Electoral Registers and Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3198): these regulations amend SI 2001/341 in order to implement the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, which provides for a new system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) in Great Britain and make various electoral administrative changes relating mainly to absent voters and the timetable for issuing forms to voters. They also provide revised text describing the two versions of the electoral register. (18 December 2013)

Representation of the People (Provision of Information Regarding Proxies) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3199): these regulations enable registration officers in Great Britain to require other registration officers in Great Britain or Northern Ireland to provide information about whether a person, whom an absent voter wishes to appoint as their proxy, has or will have an entry in a register of parliamentary or local government electors maintained by that officer. This will enable registration officers to ensure that the appointment complies with para.6(3) or (3A) of Sch.4 to the Representation of the People Act 2000. (18 December 2013)

Draft Local Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014: these draft regulations, which are scheduled to come into force on 6 April 2014, make changes to the rules governing the conduct of local mayoral elections in England and Wales set out in SI 207/1024. They apply or copy electoral conduct provisions in the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 and associated secondary legislation. The changes will take effect at polls that take place on and after 22 May 2014. The regulations are part of a wider package of secondary legislation which makes various changes to the rules for conducting elections and referendums, and are designed to improve the accessibility and security of the voting process, and implement a number of recommendations made by the Electoral Commission and the Association of Electoral Administrators. They revoke SI 2012/2059 and the amendments it made to SI 2007/1024. (18 December 2014)

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

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LGA: Collective switching framework launched: announces the launch by the LGA, in partnership with switching provider iChoosr, of a new framework that  provides advice and support for local authorities who wish to set up collective energy switching programmes, signing up residents and negotiating cheaper energy prices on their behalf. Local authorities who sign up will be able to join the next collective switching auction in February, with further auctions in May and October 2014. (7 January 2014)

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

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DCLG: Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement 2014-15: gives details of the provisional funding allocations for local authorities in 2014-15 and the illustrative settlement for 2015-16. It states that the average reduction in councils’ spending power is 2.9% (excluding the GLA) in 2014-15 and 1.8% (excluding the GLA) in 2015-16. The documents include:

The proposals are now out for consultation until 15 January 2014. (18 December 2013)
For details of the settlement, see the LGA's On the Day briefing paper.

DCLG: Government help for councils to clear up after floods: announces financial help for local authorities under the Bellwin Scheme, to assist with the costs of the recent flooding. (29 December 2013)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3181): these regulations, which come into force on 13 January 2014, amend SI 2012/2885 which provides for localised council tax reduction schemes which replaced council tax benefit on 1 April 2013. The amendments  increase certain figures which are used in calculating whether a person is entitled to a reduction and the amount of that reduction. The purpose of uprating the figures is to maintain consistency with the situation that would have applied under council tax benefit. They also update the 2012 regulations to maintain consistency with changes which have come into effect in the housing benefit regime. (20 December 2013)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes and Prescribed Requirements (Wales) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3029 (W. 301)): these regulations, which come into force on 28 November 2013, require each Welsh billing authority to make a scheme specifying the reductions which are to apply to amounts of council tax payable by persons, or classes of person, considered to be in financial need. They prescribe the matters that must be included in such a scheme together with additional requirements which must or must not be included in a scheme. (27 November 2013)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Default Scheme) (Wales) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3035 (W. 303)): these regulations, which come into force on 28 November 2013, prescribe the default reduction scheme that takes effect if a Welsh billing authority fails to make its own scheme. (27 November 2013)

Draft Localism Act 2011 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2014: this Order, once in force, requires the Greater London Authority to make substitute calculations if their council tax is found to be excessive and they have failed to approve a substitute consolidated budget or council tax requirement in accordance with the deadlines in Sch.6 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999, and to make other amendments consequential on changes made to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and the GLA Act 1999 by the Localism Act 2011. (18 December 2013)

Environment Agency: Contaminated Land Capital Projects Outcomes Report 2012-13: the Contaminated Land Capital Programme helps the Environment Agency and local authorities in England cover the capital costs of investigating and cleaning up contaminated land under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  The programme is closing at the end of the 2013/14 financial year; however, DEFRA anticipates that up to £0.5m could still be made accessible annually for emergency cases and to meet the requirements of on-going remediation projects where these are considered to be the highest priority. Funding will stop entirely from 1 April 2017. This report explains how the funds for 2012-13 were spent. It contains a full breakdown and case studies on selected Environment Agency and local authority projects. There is also a factsheet with a summary of this information. (3 January 2014) 

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

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DCLG: New Homes Bonus provisional allocations for 2014 to 2015: gives details of the latest New Homes Bonus payments being made to England’s 353 councils, in recognition of their contribution to building new homes. Official figures last week from the Office for National Statistics showed that housing construction has risen to its highest levels since 2007. Under the New Homes Bonus, councils have been rewarded for delivering 550,000 newly-built homes and conversions and brought 93,000 empty homes back into use. This total also includes over 160,000 affordable homes. (16 December 2013)

DCLG: Right to Manage statutory guidance: the Right Manage enables local authority tenants to form a Tenant Management Organisation and take over responsibility for managing housing services, such as repairs, caretaking, and rent collection, from their landlord. This statutory guidance is given under the  under the Housing (Right to Manage) (England) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1821) which make it easier for tenants to exercise their Right to Manage. It should be read alongside the statutory guidance on modular management agreements. (17 December 2013)

DCLG: Future funding of the Housing Ombudsman: seeks views on a proposal to extend the Housing Ombudsman’s existing fee charging model to local authority landlords from April 2014, as well as on the proposed consequential changes to the Housing Ombudsman’s scheme arising from this proposal. It also invites consultees to respond on the proposal for an alternative funding model post 2016. The consultation closes on 30 January 2014. (19 December 2013)

DCLG: Cash for councils to stop rogue landlords: announces the 23 local authorities that are to share £4m funding to take on rogue landlords that force their tenants to live in squalid and dangerous properties, making their lives a misery. (30 December 2013)

DCLG: Providing social housing for local people – Statutory guidance on social housing allocations for local authorities in England: this statutory guidance is issued under s.169 of the Housing Act 1996. It supplements the June 2012 statutory guidance on allocation of accommodation, which encouraged authorities to make use of the existing flexibilities within the allocation legislation to ensure that social homes go to people who need and deserve them the most. The guidance ensures that authorities require people to have lived in the area for at least two yearsbefore they are accepted onto the waiting list in their local area and are then considered for social housing. The Government has put protections in place through secondary legislation that ensure members of the Armed Forces families are not disqualified from social housing through a local connection or a residency test. (31 December 2013)

Tachie v Welwyn Hatfield BC [2013] EWHC 3972 (QB) (QBD): T and others appealed against the Council's review decisions made under s.202 of the Housing Act 2006. They contended that the Council's contracting out of its Part VII homelessness functions to an ALMO established by the Council was ultra vires its powers and that the Court should therefore quash the review decisions. T claimed that: the Council's Constitution provided that it could not delegate “discretionary decision making" and so this precluded delegation of decisions under s.184 and review under s.202 and that the decision to contract out homelessness functions to the ALMO should have been taken by the authority’s executive, not by full Council. T also argued that the contracting out breached the public procurement regime. The Council argued that T could only challenge the legality of the contracting out process by way of judicial review, rather than by way of appeal under s.204. 
The court dismissed the application. It held that it did have jurisdiction: it was quite clear that the statutory appeal on a point of law in this class of case was designed to operate in exactly the same way as judicial review, and that any ultra vires issue was therefore capable of being taken. "Discretionary decision making" was a term intended to capture the range of relatively high-level policy or strategic decisions which the Council would be wishing to retain for itself; decisions under s.184 and/or reviews under s.202 could be classed as evaluative but not policy or strategic decision-making. The decision to contract out homelessness functions to the ALMO should have been taken by the Cabinet; however, the original decision had been properly ratified by the Deputy Leader on behalf of the Cabinet, using delegated authority (urgency powers). The contact with the ALMO did not breach the procurement regime as it clearly fell within the Teckal exemption. (13 December 2013)

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

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Judicial Review

R (Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust) v Secretary of State for the Home Department and Brent LBC (Unreported) (Admin Ct, Coulson J): the court has held that a misconceived claim for judicial review against the Home Secretary (SoS) by a hospital trust could not result in a costs order being made against her based on her alleged conduct long before the proceedings had commenced.
The NHS FT applied for the costs of a claim for judicial review of decisions made by the SoS and the local authority after the Trust was unable to discharge a patient from the acute ward as the SoS, who had intended to deport him, was unable to find a bed for him in a detention centre and the Council refused to provide accommodation. The Council applied to set aside an order requiring it to contribute towards the SoS's costs.
The court held that the Trust's claim against the SoS had been misconceived and the costs consequences should not have been visited on the Council. While it was wrong in principle to penalise the Council for the Trust being precipitant, it had been unreasonable for the Council to offer to mediate on the basis that the Trust withdrew its claim. The Council was therefore liable to pay half of the Trust's costs. The Council's out-of-time application to set aside the order that it contribute to the SoS's costs was hopeless. It had failed to comply with a valid order and a lack of prejudice was no longer a valid reason to allow such a failure. (18 December 2013)

R (Islington LBC) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2013] EWHC 4009 (Admin) (Admin Ct): Islington and Richmond upon Thames LBCs applied for judicial review of the Communities Secretary's refusal to exempt certain areas in their boroughs from the application of the GPDO Amendment Order 2013 which relaxed the development control regime so that there could be a change from commercial to residential use without the need for planning permission. Local authorities were advised that they could apply for an exemption for specified areas in their locality if they could demonstrate clearly that the introduction of these new permitted development rights in a particular area would lead to the loss of a nationally significant area of economic activity. A points sytem was used to assess each application, with a high threshold for success. Islington and Richmond were advised that their applications were unsuccessful. They applied for judicial review, contending that the failure to inform them of the way in which their applications would be assessed was unfair and so unlawful, and that the four week timetable for submission of applications was unreasonable.
The court held, dismissing the application, that it would have been sensible for the Communities Secretary to have worked out in advance how applications were to be assessed and to have given that information to the Councils; but failure to do what was best was not the same as unfairness justifying a decision that what was done was unlawful. The Councils had been given sufficient information to appreciate what had to be established to obtain an exemption. Nor was the time given inadequate or unlawful - no other complaints had been made and other councils had been able to put forward all that they needed to put forward in the time allowed. (20 December 2013)

R (Islington LBC) v Mayor of London [2013] EWHC 4142 (Admin) (Admin Ct): seven London councils applied for judicial review of the Mayor's decision to adopt the Fifth Lnodon Fire Safety Plan (the Plan) that contained a number of costs savings measures, including the closure of 10 fire stations in London, the decommissioning of 14 fire appliances and a 10% reduction in the firefighting workforce. The Councils contended that the decision-making process had been irrational, the Mayor had breached his public sector equality duty (PSED) under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010 and that the consultation process had been unfair and was flawed. 
The court held, dismissing the application, that the approach taken in the Plan and the decision-making process were neither irrational nor unlawful, nor was teh consultation unfair. It also rejected the PSED challenge. (20 December 2013)

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

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City of London (Various Powers) Act 2013: this Local Act has received Royal Assent. It amends the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1987 governing street trading to enable the Corporation to: facilitate events involving street trading by issuing temporary licences; license trading by occupiers in the street outside their business premises; enforce the regulation of street trading in the City; and amend the process for fixing the charges made to street traders. It also amends the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1967 relating to city walkways to enable the City to recover certain costs and to improve parking enforcement. (18 December 2013)

London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2013: this Local Act has received Royal Assent. Most of the provisions come into force on 18 February 2014 except for Part 3 (Builders' Skips) which comes into force on a day to be appointed. The Act covers a wide range of issues relating to traffic and highways matters in London, including: the attachment of street lamps and traffic signs to buildings; further controls on the depositing of builders’ skips on the highway in London; gated roads; and power to provide and operate charging apparatus for electrically powered motor vehicles on highways. (18 December 2013)

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

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Neighbourhood Planning

Draft Neighbourhood Planning (Referendums) (Amendment) Regulations 2014: these regulations, once in force, amend SI 2012/2031 so as to change the rules for conducting neighbourhood planning referendums. In doing so, they apply or copy electoral conduct provisions in the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 and associated secondary legislation for the purposes of residential and (in most cases) business neighbourhood planning referendums (23 December 2013)

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

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HC Communities and Local Government Select Committee: Local government chief officers' remuneration: announces that the CLG Select Committee is to conduct an inquiry into the remuneration received by chief officers in local government. it is seeking submissions on the salaries, pensions and exit packages paid to chief officers in local government and how they are determined. The closing date for written submissions is 31 January 2014. (17 December 2013)

Welsh Government: Statutory guidance to the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales in relation to the salaries of local authority chief executives: seeks views on draft statutory guidance to the Panel on the exercise of its functions under s.143A of the Local Government Measure 2011, inserted by Local Government (Democracy) (Wales) Act 2013, regarding recommendations to local authorities and fire and rescue authorities on their Pay Policy Statement relevant to the salary of their Head of Paid Service. The consultation closes on 14 March 2014. (20 December 2013)

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

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DCLG: Transforming Rehabilitation programme and the Local Government Pension Scheme: seeks views on draft Offender Management Regulations 2014 that facilitate the continued participation in the LGPS by probation services employees when they are transferred to either the National Probation Service or a Commercial Rehabilitation Company under the MoJ's Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. They provide for the benefits of all probation services employees (past and present) to be administered by one administering authority and for the transfer of all past service liabilities in relation to those employees to that one authority. The consultation closes on 10 February 2014. (16 December 2013)

DCLG: Consultation on the regulations to introduce a new firefighters’ pension scheme from April 2015: seeks views on draft Public Service (Firefighters) Pensions (England) Regulations 2014 to come into force in April 2015, which follow on from the Hutton Review of public service pensions. This consultation covers membership and the benefits in the new Scheme. There will be separate consultations on the detailed transitional provisions for those current firefighter members who transfer across to the 2015 Scheme, and on the proposed increase in employee contribution rates from 1 April 2014 for members of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992, and governance and valuation arrangements. The consultation closes on 12 March 2014. (18 December 2013)

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

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Home Office: Provisional police funding announcement: announces proposals for the aggregate amount of grant to be paid to local policing bodies in England and Wales for 2014/15. It states that Central Government Revenue funding to the police will be protected from further reductions, so the overall police funding settlement for 2014/15 will remain at £8.5bn, as announced at the time of the Spending Round. The announcement includes details of how the police funding settlement will be allocated between the different funding streams in 2014/15 and lists the provisional revenue allocations for England and Wales 2014/15 for each localpolicing body. (18 December 2013)

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

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Cabinet Office: Procurement Policy Note – New threshold levels for 2014: this PPN sets out the finalised threshold values to apply from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015. It also provides a summary of all the changes to threshold levels for public contracts, utilities contracts and defence and security contracts from January 2014. The levels are slightly lower than the 2012 figures, because of fluctuations in exchange rates - the threshold for local authority supplies and services contracts from 1 January 2014 is £172,514, and the works contracts threshold is £4,322,012. (16 December 2013)
See Bevan Brittan's alert: New procurement thresholds from 1 January 2014.

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

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Public Health

Housing LIN: Under one roof? Housing and public health in England: this paper considers the case for housing as keystone of local public health strategies across England in next year. It examines the state of play in linking the two sectors, and how this partnerships can be strengthened to improve health and wellbeing. It highlights important issues facing housing and public health to stimulate further debate, drawing on the thoughts of leading commentators from both public health and housing sectors in order to shape healthy homes and communities. (10 December 2013)

King's Fund:  Improving the public's health: the King's Fund has published a web resource that brings together a wide range of evidence-based interventions about 'what works' in improving public health and reducing health inequalities, covering nine key areas. The report presents the business case for different interventions and signposts the reader to further resources and case studies. There is also an Overview for local authority leaders. (12 December 2013)

Centre for Mental Health: Ten questions for your council: these ten questions for councillors and health champions to ask their public health teams aim to ensure that relevant mental health information is included in the JSNA to support what is being done to promote good mental health and to prevent and treat mental health conditions in their locality. They help local authorities promote the wellbeing of their population and improve the recovery of people with mental health problems by providing information about the size, impact and cost of the unmet need to both treat mental health problems, to prevent them from arising and to promote wellbeing. Addressing such unmet need can result in a broad range of local impacts and associated economic savings even in the short term. (13 December 2013)

Public Health England: Health and care integration – Making the case from a public health perspective: guidance for health and wellbeing boards when making the case for integration focused on individuals’ health and wellbeing as well as their quality of life if they become sick. (19 December 2013)

Public Health England: Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Framework: this new resource brings together and builds on health outcomes data from the Public Health Outcomes Framework and the NHS Outcomes Framework. It responds to the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum’s recommendation that a version of these frameworks be created which highlights areas of particular relevance to improving the health outcomes of children and young people. (7 January 2014)

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

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Regulatory Services

DCMS: Consultation on community film exhibition – Government response: sets out the Government’s response to the July 2013 consultation on whether unnecessary licensing regulation could be removed from small scale film exhibition events in community premises. The intention of the proposals is to bolster community entertainment activity and participation by freeing up organisers to put on films without having to fill in licensing paperwork and go through a costly process. (19 December 2013) 

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

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R (Dennehy) v Ealing LBC [2013] EWHC 4102 (Admin) (Admin Ct): D, a councillor, applied for judicial review of the Council's Standards Committee's decision that he had breached its Code of Conduct. The Committee found that in posting comments on a blog, D had not treated others with respect and had brought the Council and the office of Councillor into disrepute, contrary to the Code. The Committee resolved that D should be requested to issue an appropriate apology, and that a notice summarising the Committee's decision should be published in the local paper and on the Council's website. D contended that the Committee had failed to give adequate reasons for its conclusion that the tone and much of the content of the blog had been inappropriate and unnecessarily provocative; and its decision was unreasonable and irrational. D also argued that the Committee’s decision infringed his fundamental right to free speech under Art. ECHR10.
The court held, refusing the application, that the Committee's reasons had been adequate.  Its decision, although engaging Art.10 ECHR, was plainly a proportionate interference in the light of the other interests identified in the Convention. (20 December 2013)

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

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DfT: Local Sustainable Transport Fund application process and bidding guidance 2015 to 2016: this guidance invites local transport authorities in England (outside London) to apply for revenue funding up to a maximum of £1m to support the cost of a range of sustainable travel measures between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016. Proposals should consider the importance of integrating sustainable transport to make it easier and more convenient for people to make their journey from door-to-door by public transport, cycling and walking. The guidance also sets out the criteria against which decisions on the allocation of funding will be taken and the need to demonstrate value for money, deliverability and affordability of package proposals. The closing date for applications is 31 March 2014. (23 December 2013)

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

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Wales Office: Draft Wales Bill: this draft Bill contains provisions designed to enable devolved governance in Wales to become more accountable. It follows on from the Silk Commission’s first report on the devolution of tax and borrowing powers. As well as proposals for devolving tax-raising powers, an independent funding stream to support the Welsh Ministers' new capital borrowing powers, and power to hold a referendum on devolution of income tax, the Bill also makes a number of changes to the Assembly’s electoral arrangements, reflecting the outcome of the 2012 Green Paper, and some other changes which clarify and update the devolution settlement. (18 December 2013)

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

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Welfare Reform

DWP: Letter to claimants affected by removal of the spare room subsidy:  this template can be used by local authorities as the basis of a letter to send to claimants to inform them how the changes to Housing Benefit rules will affect them, what their options are and where they can go for futher information and help. Authorities can add their local contact details, local housing contacts and other advice appropriate for their area. (18 December 2013)

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

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