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 to 2 May 2014. Items are set out by subject, with a link to where the full document can be found on the internet.

02/05/2014

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:

   Access to Information    Governance
   Adult Social Services    Highways
   Children's Services    Housing
   Consultation    Inshore Fisheries
   Delivery of Services    Pensions
   Development Control    Procurement
   Economic Development    Public Health
   Education    Standards
   Equality and Discrimination

 

Access to Information

DCLG: Local government transparency code 2014: sets out the minimum data that local authorities should be publishing, the frequency it should be published and how it should be published. There is also a document with Frequently Asked Questions that addresses technical questions which are related to the publication of specific data sets. (1 May 2014)

DWP: Local authority data sharing guide: updated guidance to help local authorities decide whether they can use customer data, obtained for the purpose of administering social security benefits, to help improve other locally managed services and benefits. It is primarily aimed at Housing and Council Tax Reduction teams, but other local authority teams may also find it useful, particularly in light of the extended data sharing powers included in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and associated regulations. This guide is intended to help local authorities to better understand some of the main considerations and constraints that frame how social security data can be used. (30 April 2014)

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

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Adult Social Services

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Learning for care homes from alternative residential care settings: this study investigated the scope for improving quality of care for older people in residential care homes in the UK by learning from other settings: residential services for children and young people; residential services and supported housing for people with learning disabilities; and hospice care. The review considers how this can be applied in care homes for older people. While evidence of effectiveness is limited, there are promising ideas that could improve the culture of care homes, experiences of care and support for staff. (23 April 2014)

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014: this Act has received Royal Assent and comes into force in Wales on a day, or days, to be appointed by the Welsh Ministers. The Act consolidates local authorities’ duties and functions in relation to improving the wellbeing of people who need care and support and their carers. The Act provides the statutory framework to deliver the Welsh Government’s commitment to integrate social services to support people of all ages, and support people as part of families and communities. It sets out enhanced duties for local authorities and Local Health Boards (LHBs) to take steps to prevent and reduce the needs for care and support of people in their area. In addition, the Act covers social care services for children, adults and their carers; it integrates and aligns arrangements so that there is a common set of processes for people and provides equivalent rights for carers. It also strengthens collaboration, with a framework for integration of key services (to be specified by Welsh Ministers) and places new duties on local authorities, LHBs and other public bodies to improve the well-being of people with care and support needs. Ministers may prescribe a new national outcomes framework and intervene in the exercise of social services functions by a local authority following the issue of a warning notice. (1 May 2014)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Delegation of authority to carers – Developing your local policy: guidance for local authorities who are aiming to develop or improve their policy about the delegation of authority to looked after children’s carers. Statutory guidance requires that local authorities have a published policy setting out their approach to the delegation of authority to foster carers and residential workers caring for children the local authority is responsible for. (22 April 2014) 

Cabinet Office: New fund to help vulnerable young people: announces the award of >£2.5m funding under the Vulnerable and Disengaged Young People Fund to 26 volunteering programmes, to enable them to provide crucial support for young people in vulnerable circumstances, including young offenders and care leavers. (1 May 2014)

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

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Consultation

AA & Sons Ltd v Slough BC [2014] EWHC 1127 (Admin) (Admin Ct): AA applied for statutory review under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 in relation to four traffic regulation orders (TROs) adopted by the Council which related to four roads in a largely residential area in Slough. AA operated a supermarket on one of the roads and was concerned about the impact of the orders on local trade. The roads had been used as a rat-run between the A4 and M4 for a long time, resulting in congestion, increased pollution and road traffic accidents. The Council introduced a number of experimental TROs which made a series of roads within the area one way for their entire length. The council conducted a survey of local residents on the operation of the TROs, and then decided to confirm them and make them permanent, with some modifications. It then published its reasons for making the TROs and invited objections and representations. It then adopted the TROs. AA applied for review; its objections included that: the consultation was inadequate; the Council had failed to give proper reasons for its decision; and it had erred in failing to hold a public inquiry.
The court held, refusing the application, that the consultation was well conducted and successful: it was comprehensive and effective, the questionnaire was appropriately framed, the answers and comments were collated and all the results conveniently summarised for the Cabinet. The Statement of Reasons was not inadequate; even if it had been, any breach would have been entirely technical and the judge would in fact have simply have made a declaration that the statement was inadequate and then granted no further relief. The court did have the power to find that a failure to exercise a power to appoint an inspector was unreasonable and unlawful, but such a ruling could ponly be justified where there were unusual and possibly exceptional factual circumstances, which did not arise here. The fact that the officers declined to recommend the adoption of a particular solution to the Cabinet, and the fact that it was a matter of great public interest, were irrelevant to the question whether a public inquiry should be held. (14 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

HM Treasury / DCLG: Service Transformation Challenge Panel – Call for evidence: the independent Service Transformation Challenge Panel was launched in April 2014 to advise what needs to happen nationally and locally to increase the pace and scale of service transformation. The Panel has now issued a Call for Evidence which will help them understand the barriers and challenges to transformation which may include sharing where things are not working as well as planned. The Panel is interested to receive submissions from anyone who has evidence on how the Government can transform local public services to deliver better outcomes for local people. The closing date for submissions is 10 July 2014. (1 May 2014)

DWP: The Innovation Fund pilots – Qualitative evaluation: Summary of early implementation findings: the £30m Youth Unemployment Innovation Fund (IF) was established in May 2011 to back Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) aimed at helping disadvantaged young people who are, or are at risk of becoming, not in education, employment or training (NEET). Ten projects were commissioned in two stages in 2012. This summary presents findings on the experiences of the IF during its first year of operation. It finds that the 10 pilots have successfully identified and engaged some of the most disadvantaged young people in society. It also reports that investors, intermediaries and delivery bodies view the IF as making a real difference to the lives of young people. The SIB model is widely acknowledged as groundbreaking and the payment by results element was found to be a key influence of behaviours. Management of cash flow to pay for ongoing delivery has led to intense performance management by intermediaries, investors and deliverers alike which has helped increase performance. (30 April 2014)

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

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Development Control

DCLG: By George! England's traditional counties can return to England’s roads: announces that planning guidance on advertisements has been revised so as to enable local authorities to install signs indicating the boundary of an historic or traditional county on their land. The Government  also proposes to change highways regulations to allow traditional county names to appear on boundary road signs. Local communities will be able to lobby their councils for the restoration of traditional boundary signs, including campaigns by public subscription. (23 April 2014)

DCMS: Gambling protections and controls: announces increased controls over betting shops to give local authorities more control over the make-up of their high streets. The proposals include changes to planning use classes so that all changes of use to a betting shop will require planning permission. DCLG will consult on the detail of these proposals as part of a wider consultation on change of use in summer 2014. Also, the Government intends to ensure that betting shop operators set out how they plan to comply with social responsibility codes when applying for a gambling premises licence. (30 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

DCLG: Proposal to amend legislation relating to combined authorities and economic prosperity boards: seeks views on proposed changes to the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 , which the Government considers would ensure that the legislation is capable of giving full effect to the Government’s Localism policy on combined authorities and economic prosperity boards. The proposed changes include: allowing councils with non-contiguous boundaries to join or form combined authorities or economic prosperity boards; simplifying the process for amending the functions, changing the boundaries or dissolving a combined authority; and requiring combined authorities and economic prosperity boards to have one or more overview and scrutiny committees constituted with a membership reflecting the political balance of the councils. The consultation closes on 24 June 2014. (30 April 2014)

DBIS: Assisted Areas Map 2014 to 2020: the Government has announced which parts of the UK have successfully won Assisted Area status, making local businesses eligible to bid for additional funding and tax breaks to create jobs, invest in new premises or machinery and grow. The map is subject to European Commission approval; it is expected to become operational in July 2014. (30 April 2014)

DCLG: European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme 2014 to 2020: seeks views on the contents of the draft operational programme for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The ERDF operational programme sets out the strategy and priorities for use of the fund to support the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It also contains high level information on how the fund will be delivered, managed and evaluated, including partnership arrangements. The consultation closes on 28 May 2014. (1 May 2014)

DCLG: New Homes Bonus and the Local Growth Fund; New Homes Bonus and London Growth Deal – Summary of responses to consultations: sets out  the Government's formal response to the July 2013 proposal to pool the New Homes Bonus as a part of the Local Growth Fund. Pooling is now proceeding only in London, and this document details a further round of London-only engagement undertaken in support of this proposal. (1 May 2014)

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

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Education

DfE: Key stage 1 Assessment and reporting arrangements: statutory guidance on statutory assessment and reporting requirements for key stage 1 for the 2013 to 2014 academic year. It also includes information on how to prepare for and administer key stage 1 national curriculum assessments, including the phonics screening check; and requirements for reporting results. This updated version incudes changes to Section 5.4 on guidance for reporting data for children that change schools. (24 April 2014) 

DfE: Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions: sets out the proposed statutory guidance and advice on the new duty under s.100 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to make arrangements for pupils with medical conditions, which comes into force on 1 September 2014. The Government has also announced that it is working to identify a supplier who will offer defibrillators to all schools at a competitive price, and that the deal will be agreed by the autumn term. (30 April 2014)

DfE: Simplifying the administration of academies funding: seeks views on converting non-recoupment academies to recoupment academies from the financial year ending 2016 and changes to local authority funding for free school pupils. The consultation closes on 2 June 2014. The proposal does not affect the calculation and payment by the Education Funding Agency of each academy’s budget, which is a completely separate process from recoupment of funding from the academy’s local authority. (1 May 2014)

Education Funding Agency: Priority School Building Programme 2 – Application guidelines: the Schools Minister has announced that as part of its capital expenditure during the next Spending Review period (2015-2021), the Government will fund a new phase of the PSBP, with a value of around £2bn, aimed at addressing the needs of some of the worst condition schools in the country. The EFA has published initial application guidelines for the programme; it states that further information will follow shortly. (1 May 2014)

DfE: Schools causing concern – Statutory guidance: this guidance, issued under s.72 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, provides information on the legislative requirements for intervening in maintained schools causing concern that are eligible for intervention. It also covers other maintained schools about which the local authority and/or the Secretary of State have serious concerns which need tackling. Local authorities must follow this statutory guidance when dealing with any maintained schools causing concern, in conjunction with the interim executive board application form. (2 May 2014)

DfE: Free schools admissions: DfE has issued guidance to free schools to help them set up their admissions arrangements, including documents on common issues, models and a template for mainstream academy and free school admission arrangements. (2 May 2014)

DfE: Education Commissioner in Birmingham – Call for information: Peter Clarke has been appointed as Education Commissioner has been appointed to take an overview of evidence in relation to Birmingham schools and the allegations relating to the document known as the ‘Trojan Horse letter’. He has now issued a call for evidence concerning issues related to Birmingham schools and the allegations being investigated. (2 May 2014)

Education (Wales) Measure 2011 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2014 (SI 2014/1066 (W. 105) (C.46)): this Order brings Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the 2011 Measure (federation of maintained schools) into force in Wales on 28 April 2014. (16 April 2014)

Welsh Government: The Education (School Development Plans) (Wales) Regulations 2014: seeks views on draft regulations governing School Development Plans (SDPs). The regulations would make it a statutory requirement for all Welsh schools to have a current SDP and would place a duty on the governing body of all maintained schools, including Pupil Referral Units and maintained nurseries, to periodically review the SDP. They would also set a minimum requirement for the content of the SDP. The consultation closes on 21 July 2014. (28 April 2014)

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

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Equality and Discrimination

HM Treasury: Cornish granted minority status within the UK: announces that the distinctive history, culture and language of Cornwall are to be fully recognised under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Framework Convention aims to ensure that the signatory states respect the rights of people belonging to national minorities, undertaking to combat discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the culture and identity of national minorities, guarantee certain freedoms in relation to access to the media, minority languages and education and encourage the participation of people belonging to national minorities in public life. The Government’s approach to the Framework Convention is to be modified to recognise the unique position of the Cornish as a Celtic people within England. It is without prejudice as to whether the Cornish meet the definition of “racial group” under the Equality Act 2010. (24 April 2014)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Sarah Lamont

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Governance

Draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014: these draft regulations, once in force, implement new rights under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 allowing people to report and commentate on public meetings of local government bodies. They amend the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, s.100A of the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 to give the public greater rights to report at open meetings of local government bodies by filming, photographing, audio-recording or any other means. They also require a written record of certain decisions made by officers of such bodies. (3 April 2014)
See also Bevan Brittan's Alert: Local government meetings: now the movie – or the crime scene?

R (Bridgerow Ltd) v Cheshire West and Chester Council [2014] EWHC 1187 (Admin) (Admin Ct): B, the owner of a lap dancing venue, applied for judicial review of the Council's decision not to renew its sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licence. The Council's Constitution provided that decisions on SEV licences were to be taken by a panel of three members, drawn from the full Licensing Committee on a politically proportionate basis. Twelve councillors took part in the Licensing Committee's hearing of B's application for renewal. B contended that, in taking the decision, the Council had acted in contravention of its Constitution because the decision was taken by 12 members when it should have been taken by a panel of three. The Council submitted that whether or not the Committee was properly constituted should not affect the validity of the decision and that it was better to have more people sitting rather than fewer; even if the Council were acting in breach of its Constitution then any alleged breach was negligible and de minimis.
The court held, granting the application, that the Council's decision must be quashed because of the serious procedural irregularity which led to it being taken by the wrong persons. Local authorities were corporate personalities established by statute and the process leading to the adoption and publication of the Constitution was the statutory route for the delegation of functions. The power to make the decision in this case had been sub-delegated to a panel of three; that was not a delegation by the Licensing Committee as such; rather, the executive function was delegated by the Constitution to the panel. It was not open to the full Licensing Committee to arrogate the delegated power to itself. The fact that the decision was taken by 12 members of the Licensing Committee rather than a panel of three was not negligible: the 12 members who made the decision were not constituted on a politically proportionate basis in line with the political composition of the Council, and it could not be said how 12 members or a panel of three who were constituted in line with the political composition of the Council would have voted. Although there was a superficial attraction in the submission that having the decision taken by more than three was an advantage, what mattered was that the decision should have been taken by three. It could not be said that a panel of three would have reached the same result as the 12 who in fact made the decision. (30 April 2014)

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

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Highways

DfT: Consultation on the draft Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2015: seeks views on proposals to give local authorities more discretion in placing signs, in many cases removing the requirement for upright signs and markings to be placed together. It also relaxes the requirements for lighting signs, which is likely to save authorities money in energy costs. These changes will also help reduce sign clutter. It also sets out plans for clearer road markings and new low-level signals for cyclists which will help improve safety on the roads. The consultation closes on 12 June 2014. (1 May 2014)

If you wish to discuss any of the items noted in this section please contact Jonathan Turner

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Housing

DCLG: Local Growth Fund (Housing Infrastructure) prospectus: sets out how to access £50m funding under the Local Growth Fund in 2015/16. The Fund is designed to help speed up and restart housing developments of between 250 and 1499 units that have slowed down or stalled. It aims to support housing schemes which are important for local growth and meet local priorities. The Fund will operate in a similar way to the Local Infrastructure Fund and will be on an open competition basis. All proposals must be endorsed by the Local Enterprise Partnership. The closing date for submissions of Expressions of Interest is 30 May 2014. (23 April 2014)

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

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Inshore Fisheries

DEFRA: IFCAs – Report to Parliament about Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities' conduct and operation: the Secretary of State has to produce a report every four years about the conduct and operation of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs). He has now published a call for evidence in connection with his first report, that asks for comments on how individual IFCAs have worked to meet their duties and demonstrated the local leadership that might be expected of a statutory regulator. This evidence pack includes background information about IFCAs and a questionnaire. The deadline for submissions is 1 August 2014. (22 April 2014)

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

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Pensions

DCLG: Local Government Pension Scheme – Opportunities for collaboration, cost savings and efficiencies: this consultation builds on the call for evidence on the future structure of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) and sets out proposals to deliver savings that aim to reduce investment management overheads and achieve a higher level of accountability to local taxpayers including through an improvement in the availability of transparent and comparable data. It represents the next step in reform of the LGPS, building on the responses to the call for evidence, the analysis of the Shadow Scheme Advisory Board and further cost benefit analysis of potential options for reform commissioned from Hymans Robertson using the Contestable Policy Fund. It sets out the Government’s preferred approach to reform, seeks views on the proposals and asks respondents to consider how if adopted, these reforms might be implemented most effectively. The consultation closes on 11 July 2014. (1 May 2014) 

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

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Procurement

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Tackling poverty through public procurement: this research looks at whether rising poverty and declining social mobility can be tackled by including more recruitment and training opportunities in public contracts, such as construction projects. It also highlights projects around the UK which have successfully used public procurement to address poverty through training and employment while complying with UK and EU procurement rules. (28 April 2014)

Bevan Brittan byte size procurement updates: we have published the first two of our "byte size" legal updates, in which we look at the new Public Sector Directive  and deconstruct it into a topic based approach. For each topic we provide a brief explanation of the most relevant new and updated provisions in the new Directive. We also highlight some of the practical implications of those provisions. The first two cover:

  1. Pre-procurement issues
  2. Statutory time limits under the Public Sector Directive 2014/24/EU  - Open and Restricted Procedures.

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

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Public Health

LGA: Public health in local government – One year on: public health made the formal transfer to local government in April 2013, and in the subsequent months great strides have been made to tackle the wider social and economic determinants of poor health. This publication was commissioned by the LGA to capture the thoughts of those working hard to make the new system work. It has contributions from councillors, Directors of Public Health and providers. (29 April 2014)

DH: Children and young people's health outcomes annual report 2013 to 2014: the first annual report from the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum (reviews progress on improving health outcomes for children and young people. It looks at the progress made since the Forum made its initial recommendations in 2012. The Forum believes that if child death rates in the UK improved to the levels of Sweden then up to five deaths a day could be prevented. Its report shows that by investing in early intervention the pressure on the health service is reduced in the longer term. The report calls for a cross-system approach, joining up government, the whole health service, social care and education professionals to improve care for young people. (30 April 2014)

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

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Standards

College of Policing: Code of ethics – Principles and standards of professional behaviour for the policing profession of England and Wales: this ethical Code, issued under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, defines what exemplary behaviour within policing looks like and has practical examples for officers and staff to use in their everyday jobs. The Code sets out nine policing principles built on the Nolan principles for public life, with the addition of Fairness and Respect, along with 10 standards of professional behaviour. These principles underpin and strengthen the existing procedures and regulations for ensuring standards of professional behaviour for both police officers and police staff, and should inform every decision and action across policing. It encourages officers and staff to challenge those who fall short of the Code, while at the same time protecting those who report genuine wrongdoing. (24 April 2014)

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

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