Authority Update

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 two weeks up to18 April 2014. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

18/04/2014

Claire Booth

Claire Booth

Professional Support Lawyer

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
   Audit    Fraud
   Children's Services    Governance
   Communities    Health and Safety
   Complaints    Health and Social Care
   Delivery of Services    Housing
   Economic Development    Licensing
   Education    Publicity
   Elections    Transport

 

Adult Social Services

LGA: Making safeguarding personal – Guide 2014: this guide is intended to support councils and their partners to develop outcomes-focused, person-centred safeguarding practice. It was originally drafted to support the 53 councils who signed up to Making Safeguarding Personal in 2013-14 and has been updated based on their experience. It gives some guidance about how to embark upon and take forward Making Safeguarding Personal in a council if the local area is interested in the approach. (9 April 2014)

CQC: Briefing for providers on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: information for health and social care staff on how they should now judge whether a person in a hospital or care home might be deprived of their liberty, in light of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in P v Cheshire West & Chester Council; P & Q v Surrey CC. (4 April 2014) 

R (LH) v Shropshire Council [2014] EWCA Civ 404 (CA): the issue in this case was whether the Council had properly consulted with users prior to deciding to close a day care centre. 
LH was 63 years old, had a learning disability and had been assessed as having substantial care needs. She attended X day care centre two days a week. The Council reviewed its provision of day centre services because of budgetary constraints and also because of encouragement from central Government to give disabled people their own personalised budget for spending in relation to their disability. Following widespread consultation on the proposed reconfiguration of day care services, the Council decided to close three day centres, including X. LH applied for judicial review of that decision, contending that the Council should have consulted users in relation to the closure of X centre itself before it occurred; she also alleged  that the Council had failed to comply with its Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under s.149 of the Equality Act 2010. The judge dismissed her application.
The Court of Appeal held, allowing LH's appeal, that In the absence of any express or implied statutory duty to consult, the obligation to consult stemmed from the expectation that a public body making decisions affecting the public would act fairly. If therefore a local authority withdrew a benefit previously afforded to the public, it would usually be under an obligation to consult with the beneficiaries of that service before withdrawing it. Fairness was a matter for the court, not the Council, to decide. If fairness required the Council to consult about individual closures, then the Council could not say that it could choose a method of consultation which by-passed the question whether an individual day centre should be closed. Here the Council had taken a great deal of trouble to explain its reconfiguration of Adult Day Care and, in particular, the application of personalised budgets. The consultations undertaken were wide-ranging and, no doubt, expensive and time-consuming to conduct. The Council had only mistaken its obligations at the last stage; but the omission to consult the users and relatives on the closure of X Centre before it was decided to close it was unlawful. The services provided by the Council and the widespread consultations that took place in relation to the reconfiguration of Adult Day Care services showed that the Council did have due regard to their PSED. It could be said that because there was a failure to consult about the closure of X, that showed there was a failure to comply with the PSED; but there was no wider failure than that. (4 April 2014)

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

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Audit

Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (Commencement No.1) Order 2014 (SI 2014 No. 900 (C.39)): this Order appoints 4 April 2014 as the day on which a number of provisions in the 2014 Act come into force. (3 April 2014)

Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (Commencement No.2) Order 2014 (SI 2014/940 (C. 42)): this Order brings s.19 of, and Sch.6 to, the 2014 Act (Codes of audit practice and guidance) into force on 9 April 2014. (3 April 2014)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Powers to delegate children's social care functions: seeks views on draft Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (Relevant Care Functions) (England) Regulations 2014 that will broaden the range of local authority children’s social care functions that can be delivered through a third party provider. The consultation closes on 30 May 2014. 
The proposed regulations support the Children's Social Care Innovation Programme, which seeks to support the development, testing and sharing of more effective ways of supporting children who need help from children’s social care services. DfE has published a number of documents that explain how the programme will operate and how to apply for substantial support for an innovative proposal, including:

(17 April 2014)

DfE: Court orders and pre-proceedings for local authorities: statutory guidance for local authorities that outlines the key principles of the Children Act 1989 and explains the changes to some of the court-related sections of the Act following provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014. It also sets out an explanation of orders in relation to adoption, reflecting provisions in the Adoption and Children Act 2002. The guidance makes clear that:

  • in deciding any question about the upbringing of a child, the child's welfare is the paramount consideration;
  • when determining any question with respect to the upbringing of the child, any delay is likely to prejudice the welfare of that child; and 
  • children are generally best looked after within the family, save where that is not consistent with their welfare, with their parents playing a full part in their lives and with least recourse to legal proceedings. No order should be made unless it would be better for the child than making no order at all.

Local authorities must comply with this guidance when exercising their social services functions, unless there are exceptional reasons which justify a departure in individual cases. (17 April 2014)

Children and Families Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2014 (SI 2014/889 (C.38)): this Order brings a number of provisions in the 2014 Act into force on 1 April, 22 April, 13 May, 25 July and 1 September 2014. The relevant sections mainly relate to children with special educational needs and to adoption and contact. (31 March 2014)

Childcare (Welfare and Registration Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/912): this Order, which comes into force on 1 September 2014, amends SI 2008/974 and SI 2008/975 that prescribe the requirements to be met by a person seeking registration in the Early Years Register and/or in Parts A or B of the General Childcare Register. It also amends SI 2012/938 that gives legal effect to the welfare requirements with which early years providers must comply. (3 April 2014)

Childcare (Learning and Development Requirements and Exemptions from Registration) (Amendment) Order 2014 (SI 2014/913): this Order, which comes into force on 1 September 2014, amends SI 2007/1772 that sets out the learning and development requirements that early years providers must secure in providing early years provision. The changes include the introduction of a revised Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. It also amends SI 2008/979 so as to introduce an exemption from the requirement to register childcare in certain circumstances where care is provided by a family friend. (3 April 2014)

Recovery of Costs (Remand to Youth Detention Accommodation) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/981): these regulations, which come into force on 20 May 2014, amend SI 2013/507 so as to reduce the amount that local authorities must pay the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales in respect of children who are remanded in a secure training centre. The amount is reduced from £581 per night to £533 per night. (14 April 2014)

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

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Communities

DCLG: 123 communities to take control of neighbourhood schemes: announces that 123 areas will be taking control of neighbourhood schemes through the £4.3m Our Place support programme, to boost employment, combat crime and improve the health of residents. Full details (in spreadsheet format) are on the My Community Rights website. (14 April 2014)

DCLG: Government response to a petition on allotment duties: DCLG has denied an allegation that it is examining plans to remove council duties to provide allotments. It states that this is completely untrue and has no basis in fact. Local authorities continue to have a specific responsibility for the management and provision of allotments in their area, taking into account local demand. There are no plans to change this, and the e-petition’s claims are simply false. (15 April 2014)

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

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Complaints

HC Public Administration Select Committee: More complaints please!: this report looks at how public services handle complaints, in light of the Mid-Staffs crisis, which highlighted how leadership failures to hear and address concerns from patients, their families, and staff led to "unspeakable disaster". The Committee concludes that success depends on the right leadership of public services which values complaints as critical for improving, and learning about, their service. It says that how complaints are handled determines the quality of the relationship between consumers and public services; the best performing organisations welcome complaints as a way of engaging consumers, while a failure to recognise the importance of complaints leads to insufficient redress for the individual, limits the impact that complaints have in improving services and alienates the public. It recommends that there be a single point of contact for citizens to make complaints about Government departments or agencies, which provides meaningful human support at the end of a telephone for those who need it. (14 April 2014)

LGO: Complaints about bailiffs: this fact sheet is aimed primarily at anyone who is experiencing problems with an enforcement agent (bailiff) employed by a council or other enforcing authority and may be considering making a complaint to the Ombudsman. It explains changes to the law on how bailiffs operate that came into effect from 6 April 2014.(4 April 2014)

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

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Delivery of Services

DCLG: Transformation Challenge Award and capital receipt flexibility 2014 to 2016 prospectus: sets out how local authorities can bid for funding from the Challenge Award fund. This provides £120m grant funding (£15m in 2014/15 and £105m in 2015/16) and a £200m facility to use the capital receipts from asset sales flexibly to support transformation, to support local authorities in re-engineering their business practices and redesign service delivery. The first deadline bids for 2014/15 funding and expressions of interest for 2015/16 is 1 July 2014; the deadline for bids for 2015/16 funding is 1 October 2014. (3 April 2014)

DCLG: Proposals for the use of capital receipts from asset sales to invest in reforming services – Government response to the consultation: sets out the Government's response to the July 2013 consultation on proposals to allow local authorities some flexibility to use their receipts from asset sales to pay for the one-off revenue costs of service reforms. It states that the Government considers that a bid based competitive option would be the best mechanism to allow the level of expenditure to be controlled and focused on local authorities with the best proposals. It will allow up to £200m of expenditure from a flexible use of capital receipts across 2015/16 and 2016/17. The flexibility on the use of capital receipts will be delivered through capitalisation, which is the means by which the Government, exceptionally, permits local authorities to treat revenue costs as capital costs. Permission for a flexible use of capital receipts will be given to each authority through a capitalisation direction, issued under s.16(2)(b) LGA 2003. (3 April 2014)

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

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Economic Development

SOLACE: Local roots to growth: this report looks at promoting economic growth in local areas. The report states that councils must lead in shaping the local economy to ensure that the right type of growth is delivered sustainably. It stresses that councils must be brave in long-term planning and investment in infrastructure and skills to ensure that the conditions are right for businesses to flourish and residents to live. However, the localism rhetoric must turn to reality, giving councils real influence over local finance to borrow, spend and earn with greater freedom. The report argues that effective integration is vital: skills must be developed with local businesses, support must be granted across sectors and infrastructure must be invested in to let businesses see the value of local economies. Economic growth is now seen as the most significant function of councils, and the prudent financial management and efficient service delivery it maintains. The UK is one of the most centralised nations in the OECD, but local growth relies on councils having the tools and freedom to manage differing local issues and priorities. (10 April 2014)

Welsh Government: "New £75m EU investment will help build Ireland Wales links": announces that Wales is to lead the delivery of the EU’s new £75m Ireland-Wales Cross Border programme 2014-2020. The new programme will provide the basis for working together and sharing best practice in addressing common economic and social challenges and opportunities relating to innovation, climate change and the development of natural and cultural resources. There will be a public consultation on the new programme starting in June, before submission of the operational programme to the Commission in mid-September. (11 April 2014)

Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland Combined Authority Order 2014 (SI 2014/1012): this Order, which comes into force on 15 April 2014, establishes a Combined Authority for the exercising of transport, economic development and regeneration functions across the areas of the seven local authorities in Tyne & Wear. (14 April 2014)

DCLG: Combined authorities' governance and transparency: the Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis has written to the newly established combined authorities, on how they should follow good practice on overview and scrutiny. (17 April 2014)

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

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Education 

DfE: Careers guidance and inspiration in schools – Statutory guidance for governing bodies, school leaders and school staff: governing bodies (and local authorities in respect of pupil referral units) have a statutory duty under s.42A of the Education Act 1997 to ensure that all registered pupils at the school are provided with independent careers guidance from year 8 (12-13 year olds) to year 13 (17-18 year olds). This statutory guidance explains how they should comply with this duty.
DfE has also published departmental advice Careers guidance and inspiration in schools that contains good practice information and links to resources to help schools and colleges meet their duty to secure independent careers guidance for young people. It also includes examples of schools that already offer innovative careers guidance. (10 April 2014) 

DfE / EFA: Applying to be on the approved list of independent special institutions: details of the process that independent special providers need to follow to be considered for entry onto the list of approved institutions. Providers must be able to provide evidence and demonstrate they meet the criteria listed within the guidance. There is also a guide to support the completion of the application form with the timescales and information required to complete the application form. (4 April 2014)

DfE: Grant funding agreement – Terms and conditions: this document should be read alongside the grant offer letter and all relevant annexes. (11 April 2014)

DfE: Fairer schools funding 2015 to 2016 – Annex B Technical note: the DfE is proposing to allocate an additional £350m in the 2015/16 financial year, to increase the per-pupil funding for the least fairly funded local areas. This technical note provides additional information about the data used by the DfE to calculate the indicative figures at Annex B of the consultation document. (4 April 2014)

Standards and Testing Agency: Curriculum and qualifications – Key stage 1 and 2 national curriculum assessments: Maladministration: information for teachers, local authorities, parents and the general public about what to do if they are concerned about how national curriculum assessments have been carried out, and how the STA will investigate. 
See also 2014 Maladministration investigation procedures that outlines the STA’s process for investigating any matter brought to its attention relating to the accuracy or correctness of any child’s results in the phonics screening check and teacher assessment in key stage 1 and the national curriculum tests and writing teacher assessment in key stage 2. (16 April 2014)

DfE: Revision to the SEN and Disability Code of Practice 0-25 years: seeks views on revised draft statutory guidance for organisations who work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The consultation closes on 6 May 2014. (17 April 2014)

Education Funding Agency: Further education free meals – Advice for FE funded institutions: non-statutory guidance to FEIs on their obligation under the Education Act 1996 to provide free meals to disadvantaged 16-18 year old students in further education from September 2014. (16 April 2014)

DfE: Headteacher standards review: announces that the DfE is conducting a review of  standards for headteachers to reflect the growing diversity of the school system. A small group of respected professionals, including , chaired by Dame Dana Ross-Wawrzynski, will design the new updated standards. The review will consider best practice internationally, call for expert advice and evidence, and engage with teachers and leaders. The review panel will report to the Education Secretary in the summer, with the intention of publishing standards in the autumn. (17 April 2014)

Welsh Government: The draft Education (Pupil Referral Units) (Management Committees, etc) (Wales) Regulations 2014: seeks views on proposed regulations on the constitution and roles of management committees of pupil referral units (PRUs), including the procedures for the operation of management committees for PRUs. It also seeks views on draft guidance to accompany the regulations. The consultation closes on 23 June 2014. (31 March 2014)

Welsh Government: The Dissolution of Further Education Corporations (Publication of Proposals and Prescribed Bodies) (Wales) Regulations 2014: the Further and Higher Education (Governance and Information) (Wales) Act 2014 enables an FE corporation in Wales to dissolve itself, following the consultation process set out in regulations. This paper seeks views on draft regulations that describe the time and manner in which FE corporations must publish their proposals for dissolution. They also provide detail on the requirement and timing of consultation, as well as prescribing the bodies to which an FE corporation may transfer its property, rights and liabilities upon dissolution. The consultation closes on 9 June 2014. (7 April 2014)

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

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Elections

Cabinet Office: May 2014 Elections to the European Parliament and to local authorities in England and Northern Ireland – Guidance on conduct: guidance on the conduct of civil servants in the run up to the forthcoming local and European elections on 22 May 2014. It sets out the general principles that civil servants and staff and members of NDPBs and arm's length bodies should follow in the three week 'purdah period' preceding the elections, i.e. from 2 May 2014. (9 April 2014)

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

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Finance

DCLG: Council Tax bills waived until flood victims return home: announces that the Government is to extend the three-month Council Tax discount to all flood victims for as long as they are unable to return to their homes. (11 April 2014)

HM Treasury / DCLG: Administration of business rates in England – Discussion paper: this paper describes the business rates system in England and how it is run. It summarises five elements of the system: how property is valued; how often properties are valued; how business rates bills are set; how business rates are collected; and how information is used. It follows on from the announcement in the Autumn Statement 2013 that the Government would discuss options with business for longer-term administrative reform of business rates after 2017. This paper asks questions and invites views from stakeholders on issues and ideas for longer term reform. The closing date for comments is 6 June 2014. (11 April 2014)

Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (Council Tax Increases) (England) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/925): these regulations, which come into force on 4 April 2014, amend SI 2012/444 so as to apply, for the purposes of referendums relating to increases in council tax, changes that have been or are to be made to the legislation relating to the administration of parliamentary and local government elections. (3 April 2014)

Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/825 (W.83)): these regulations, which come into force on 26 March 2014, amend SI 2013/588 (W.67), SI 2013/3029 (W.301) and SI 2013/3035 (W.303) relating to Council Tax Reduction Schemes. (25 March 2014)

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

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Fraud

Prevention of Social Housing Fraud (Detection of Fraud) (Wales) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/826 (W.84)): the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 creates offences related to sub-letting and parting with possession of social housing and provides for the investigation and prosecution of social housing fraud offences, such as making fraudulent applications for social housing or unlawfully subletting social housing. These regulations, which come into force in Wales on 28 March 2014, provide for powers to require information for housing fraud investigation purposes. (25 March 2014)

Prevention of Social Housing Fraud (Power to Require Information) (England) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/899): these regulations, which come into force on 6 April 2014, give local authorities powers regarding social housing fraud investigations under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013. The regulations enable local authorities to compel certain listed bodies to provide them with information in relation to those offences. They also create offences and enable penalties to be imposed in connection with these requests for data. (3 April 2014)
See also the DCLG press release: Government closes the net on tenancy cheats (7 April 2014)

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

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Governance

DCLG: Inspectors appointed to investigate London Borough of Tower Hamlets: announces that the Communities Secretary has exercised his new legal power under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 to appoint inspectors to look into allegations of governance failure, poor financial management and fraud at Tower Hamlets LBC.  He has appointed PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to inspect the authority’s payment of grants, the transfer of property, spending decisions in relation to publicity, and other contractual processes from 25 October 2010 to the present day. A file is being passed onto the Metropolitan Police for consideration. (4 April 2014)

Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/924): these regulations, which come into force on 4 April 2014, amend SI 2012/323 so as to apply, for the purposes of referendums relating to local authorities' governance arrangements, changes that have been or are to be made to the legislation relating to the administration of parliamentary and local government elections. (3 April 2014)

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

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Health and Safety

HSE: Salford Council prosecuted after child loses fingertips in school gate: reports that Salford City Council has been fined £20,000 by Manchester Crown Court and ordered to pay £3,632 costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. The charges arose from an incident when a six-year-old boy with autism and learning difficulties trapped his hand in a school gate, losing the tips of three fingers. An HSE investigation found that the council had failed to act on a report produced in April 2004 which identified the risk of children trapping their fingers in the outside gates. (11 April 2014)

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

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Health and Social Care

DH: Government response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report into public expenditure on health and social care: sets out the Government’s response to the 18 conclusions and recommendations made in the House of Commons Health Select Committee report. It agrees with the Committee on the very real financial challenge facing health and care services, and recognise that maintaining both financial control and delivering efficiency savings are of paramount importance to ensuring the sustainability of the health and care system. It believe that the reforms it has introduced, the steps it is taking to promote integration and its commitment to protecting the health budget in real terms, go some way towards creating this sustainable service. However, there is more that needs to be done, which is why the Government is continuing to focus on finance and efficiency through better procurement, productivity improvements and transformational changes to services. (8 April 2014)

Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England: A new settlement for health and social care: this interim report proposes a single health and social care system. Drawing on accounts from patients and their families, the independent Commission argues that the current system is no longer fit for purpose. At the root of the problem is a lack of alignment in funding, organisation and entitlement. The report analyses the historical divides between the two systems, the effects of an ageing society, and issues of affordability, before exploring options for change in meeting the costs ahead. (3 April 2014)

DH: Funding transfer from the NHS to social care 2014 – Directions: the Government has published Directions and an explanatory note about the transfer of £1.1bn in the financial year 2014 to 2015 from the NHS to local authorities for social care. This funding consists of £900m to support adult social care which has a health benefit and an additional £200m for preparing for implementation of mandatory pooled budgets between local authorities and clinical commissioning groups in financial year 2015 to 2016 (the Better Care Fund). The local authority and clinical commissioning groups must agree together how to use the money. They should be read together with the conditions relating to payments between NHS bodies and local authorities. (4 April 2014)

Whistleblowing helpline: Raising concerns at work – Whistleblowing guidance for workers and employers in health and social care: this guidance contains a number of key recommendations to help make whistleblowing an important part of improving the quality of service user support and patient safety. From an employer’s viewpoint, whistleblowing can be an opportunity to stop poor practice at an early stage, before it becomes normalised; for the worker, the freedom to raise concerns without fear means that they can go ahead and ‘do the right thing’. (8 April 2014)

CQC: Registration fees from 1 April 2014: gives details of the registration fees that CQC will charge health and social care services from 1 April 2014. As the regulation of services is undergoing changes, there will only be minimal changes to fees this year. (31 March 2014) 

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 the General Consents issued under section 25 of the Local Government Act 1988 – Summary of responses and Government response: sets out the Government's response to the August 2013 consultation on revising the general consents issued under s.25 LGA 1988 that would free local authorities to manage their housing land effectively. The finalised revised General Consents remove the requirement on local authorities to seek specific consent of the Secretary of State to dispose at less than market value for the provision of privately-let housing accommodation of vacant housing land and vacant dwellings to other registered providers. (7 April 2014)

DCLG: Local Growth Fund – Housing Revenue Account Borrowing Programme (2015-16 and 2016-17): the HRA borrowing programme makes available an additional £300m borrowing for 10,000 new affordable homes over 2015/16 and 2016/17. This is available to local authorities who have a proposal agreed by their Local Enterprise Partnership. This prospectus sets out the detail of how local authorities can bid for additional borrowing and sets out the process and timetable for submitting bids. The application form sets out information a local authority should provide when applying for the Secretary of State’s consent under s.25 LGA1988. The closing date for expressions of interest is 16 June 2014. (7 April 2014) 

DCLG: Locally-led garden cities – Prospectus: invites local authorities to put forward their ideas for how they wish to develop garden cities, how they wish to make use of the existing central government funding and support, and what other freedoms, flexibilities and support they need to make ambitious new garden cities a reality. Successful expressions of interest will receive support from the HCA's ATLAS (Advisory Team for Large Applications) team. A limited amount of funding will be made available from within the DCLG’s existing budget to create the capacity at the local level for design, planning, and professional costs of developing a proposal for a new garden settlement. Expressions of interest are invited on an ongoing, rolling basis from interested localities, rather than being subject to any fixed deadline. Localities are also invited, by 29 August 2014, to submit their views on the issues and barriers they see in developing Garden City proposals, which will be discussed at a subsequent Local Growth Committee. (14 April 2014)

DCLG: Large sites infrastructure programme – Prospectus: invites bids for the £1bn of investment announced in the 2013 Autumn Statement to unlock local housing schemes of over 1,500 homes, which have their plans in place but need assistance to get the development off the ground. The funding will unlock up to 250,000 new homes between 2015 and 2020, and provide a springboard for successful bidders who also want to deliver locally-led garden cities. Investment will be provided through the Local Infrastructure Fund. The deadline for expressions of interest is 30 May 2014. (14 April 2014)

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

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Licensing

Draft Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Conditions) Order 2014: this draft Order will introduce a further mandatory condition, applicable to all premises licences and club premises certificates, which will prohibit licensed premises from making a sale or supply of alcohol below the “permitted price”: this is defined as the aggregate of the duty chargeable in relation to the alcohol and the amount of that duty multiplied by a percentage which represents the rate of VAT chargeable in relation to the alcohol. (11 April 2014)

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

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Publicity

DCLG: Eric Pickles takes action to defend the independent free press: announces that the Communities Secretary has given notice to five London boroughs that he proposes to give them a direction under s.4A of the Local Government Act 1986, requiring them to comply with the Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity. The councils now have a fortnight to show why a direction is not necessary. The press release links to the formal letters and also summarises the alleged non-compliance for each councils and the required compliance action. (17 April 2014)

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

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Transport

DfT: Better Bus Area monitoring and evaluation framework: this framework explains how Better Bus Areas should be monitored and evaluated, using the three principles of proportionality, partnership and prioritisation. (7 April 2014)

Traffic Commissioners: Local bus services – Revised statutory guidance: seeks views on proposed revisions to the Senior Traffic Commissioner’s statutory guidance under the Local Transport Act 2008 that sets out what traffic commissioners should expect from operators who run registered bus routes and the standards for reliable and punctual services. The consultation closes on 19 May 2014. (7 April 2014)

DfT: Further boost for sustainable transport schemes: announces that nine authorities are to share £2m funding from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund for schemes that encourage more sustainable transport choices. (17 April 2014)

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

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