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    Highways
   Adult Social Services    Housing
   Byelaws    Procurement
   Children's Services    Public Health
   Education    Publicity
   Fire and Rescue Authorities    Regulatory Services


Access to Information

National Archives: UK implementation of Directive 2013/37/EU on the reuse of public sector information: seeks views on proposals to transpose the amended PSI Directive into UK law. The amended Directive makes a number of changes to the existing provision for reuse of PSI, the main ones being to make permitting reuse mandatory in most cases, and extending the PSI Directive's scope to cover PSI held by public sector museums, libraries and archives where they allow their information to be made available for reuse. It also introduces the principle that charges for reuse should be set at marginal cost, with exceptions in certain circumstances, and introduces a means of redress operated by an impartial review body with the power to make binding decisions on public sector bodies. The consultation closes on 7 October 2014. (20 August 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

Home Office: Strengthening the law on domestic abuse: seeks views on whether the current law on domestic abuse needs to be strengthened to offer better protection to victims. It focuses on whether there should be a specific offence that captures patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships, in line with the Government’s non-statutory definition of domestic abuse. The consultation closes on 15 October 2014. (20 August 2014)

LGA / ADASS: Care Act – Regulations and guidance: Joint consultation response: provides a high-level commentary on some of the key issues facing local authorities as the sector prepares for implementation of the first wave of the Care Act reforms in April 2015. It raises concerns about funding the reforms, and also sets out headline concerns and issues with certain parts of the regulations and guidance and the policy areas they cover. (15 August 2014) 
ADASS has also submitted more detailed thematic responses to the consultation.

See also London Council's Response to the consultation on the care and support statutory guidance and regulation that makes 10 overarching requests to government regarding the Government's commitment to funding the reforms. (19 August 2014) 

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

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Local Government Byelaws (Wales) Act 2012 (Commencement No. 1) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2121 (W.207) (C.95)): this Order brings a number of provisions in the 2012 Act into force on 15 August 2014. The provisions relate to fixed penalties for breach of byelaws. (24 July 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

Welsh Government: Review of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment duty on local authorities: s.26 of the Childcare Act 2006 requires local authorities to regularly assess demand for, and availability of, local childcare provision. The Childcare Act 2006 (Local Authority Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2013 place a duty on Welsh local authorities to prepare Childcare Sufficiency Assessments (CSAs) that allow local authorities to measure the nature and extent of the need for, and supply of, childcare in their area. The Welsh Government has committed to reviewing this duty to ensure that any future CSA is fit for purpose and meaningful at a local and national level. This consultation seeks views on how the CSA process and content of the CSAs may be improved and made fit for purpose to meet the needs of all stakeholders who have a vested interest in childcare. The consultation closes on 30 October 2014. (7 August 2014)

Welsh Government: Extending access to intermediary services for descendants and relatives of adopted people: intermediary services, managed by a local authority, voluntary adoption agency or adoption support agency, facilitate contact between adopted people and their birth relatives. Currently, the services can only be used by adopted people and their birth relatives. This consultation seeks views on extending access to such services to the descendants and relatives of persons adopted before 30 December 2005. Under the proposals, adopted people may register, in writing, a veto to prevent an intermediary agency from making contact or to say that they only want to be contacted in certain circumstances. The consultation closes on 27 October 2014. (27 July 2014)

DCLG: Troubled Families programme expanded to help younger children: announces that the Troubled Families programme is to be expanded from working with school-age children to those under 5; it will also have a particular focus on improving poor health. While retaining its focus on reducing truancy, crime and anti-social behaviour, the expanded programme will apply this approach to a larger group of families with a wider set of problems including domestic violence, debt and children at risk of being taken into care. (19 August 2014)

DCLG: Health bulletin on troubled families: this briefing outlines the significant health problems found in troubled families. The findings confirm the large extent to which health-related problems are a feature of troubled families’ lives, whether as a cause or effect of their circumstances. It highlights the importance of dealing with troubled families’ problems as a whole, rather than on an individual basis – treating health problems only as a medical problem without addressing other aspects of an individual’s or a family’s problems is unlikely to be successful. (19 August 2014)

DfE: Childminder agencies and changes to the local authority role – Government consultation response: sets out the Government's response to the March 2014 consultation on the provision of early education and childcare following the Children and Families Act 2014. The Government has now issued new regulations (see below) and will be issuing revised statutory gidance and departmental advice. (18 August 2014)

Local Authority (Duty to Secure Early Years Provision Free of Charge) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2147): these regulations, which come into force on 8 September 2014, exercise powers under s.7 of the Childcare Act 2006 to prescribe the early years provision which is to be available free of charge for young children in their area who are under school age and are of the prescribed description, the amount of such provision, and to set out the eligibility of children who are entitled to receive free early years provision. They also impose a new requirement on local authorities under s.7A of the 2006 Act to fund early education places at providers chosen by the parent of a young child, provided that the provider meets the prescribed quality criteria and the provider is prepared to accept the terms of the local authority funding. They set out the requirements that local authorities may and may not attach to the funding they provide for the delivery of early education places. (14 August 2014)

Childcare (Childminder Agencies) (Registration, Inspection and Supply and Disclosure of Information) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1920): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2014, provide for the registration and inspection of childminder agencies under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006 as inserted by s.84 of, and Sch.4 to, the Children and Families Act 2014. They also provide for the supply and disclosure of information by childminder agencies about childcare providers registered with them. (11 August 2014)

Childcare (Childminder Agencies) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1921): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2014, make miscellaneous amendments to a number of regulations in consequence of changes to Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006 made by the Children and Families Act 2014. The changes enable persons who wish to offer childcare on domestic premises to register with a childminder agency rather than with HM Chief inspector. (11 August 2014)

Childcare (Childminder Agencies) (Cancellation etc.) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1922): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2014, provide for the cancellation, termination and suspension of the registration of providers of childcare who are registered with an early or later years childminder agency for the purposes of Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006. They also set out the effect on a registered provider if a childminder agency’s registration is cancelled. (11 August 2014)

DfE: The impact of more flexible assessment practices in response to the Munro Review of Child Protection – A rapid response follow-up: the Munro Review of Child Protection recommended reducing statutory guidance on safeguarding children in order to promote local autonomy and increase the scope for practitioners to exercise their professional judgement. Between March and September 2011 eight local authorities piloted more flexible assessment practiceswhich led to the statutory guidance being revised. Six of the original pilot local authorities were permitted to continue to operate using their own local protocols, without a 45 day upper limit for the conclusion of single assessments in place. This report presents the findings of a small scale follow-up study by the Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre that explored the similarities and differences in practices in these local authorities. (20 August 2014) 

MoJ: A brighter future for Family Justice – A  round up of what’s happened since the Family Justice Review: this update  sets out the progress made since the Family Justice Review was published in 2011. It includes details of how the Public Law Outline and other reforms have begun to reduce delays in care and supervision proceedings. (20 August 2014)

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

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DfE: Special educational needs and disability – A guide for parents and carers: this guide explains how the system that supports children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) works. It covers: the law and statutory guidance on which the system is based; places to go for help and further information; and details about changes to the system from 1 September 2014. (15 August 2014)

Dissolution of Further Education Corporations (Publication of Proposals and Prescribed Bodies) (Wales) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2126 (W.209): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 1 September 2014, set out the time and manner of publication, and content of draft proposals for the dissolution of FE corporations. The regulations also provide detail on the consultation process that must be followed, as well as prescribing the bodies to which an FE corporation can transfer its property, rights and liabilities upon dissolution. (8 August 2014)

Education (Wales) Act 2014 (Commencement No.2) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2162 (W.211) (C.97)): this Order brings parts of s.2 of, and Sch.1 to, the 2014 Act into force in Wales on 18 August 2014. The provisions relate to the membership and appointment of members to the Education Workforce Council. (7 August 2014)

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

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Fire and Rescue Authorities

DCLG: Independent review of conditions of service for operational staff in the fire and rescue service: the Government has now published the terms of reference for Adrian Thomas's independent review of firefighters' conditions of services that was announced on 7 August (see our previous Authority Update 8/8/14). His role is to review the conditions of service of chief fire officers and firefighters and the processes by which they are determined to consider whether they present barriers to the reform, improvement and efficiency of fire and rescue services. DCLG has also published the questionnaires for FRAs and for firefighters. The deadline for completing these is 19 September 2014. (12 August 2014)

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

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Local Authorities (Elected Mayors) (Elections, Terms of Office and Casual Vacancies) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2172): these regulations, which come into force on 5 September 2014, amend SI 2012/336 in relation to the date on which the first election for an elected mayor may be held after a referendum, which takes place following a petition under section 9MC LGA 2000, approves a change to a mayor and cabinet executive. The regulations allow for the first election to be held on the same date as the first ordinary day of election (usually the first Thursday of May) that occurs after the end of a period of three months following the successful referendum, where the local authority so resolves to do so following a request from the petition organiser. They also make transitional arrangements where the referendum was held after 31 December 2013 and the first election for the elected mayor has not taken place before the regulations are in force. (14 August 2014)

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

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DfT: Traffic Management Act 2004 Part 3 – Local Highway Authority Permit Schemes: Consultation on the amendments to the 2007 permit scheme regulations: seeks views on proposed changes to the Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3372), which are planned to take effect from April 2015. As part of the Deregulation Bill, there is a plan to remove the requirement for the Transport Secretary to approve permit schemes in England; in future they will be approved by a council’s own order. The changes aim to give authorities greater power to co-ordinate works on their roads and direct the way those works are carried out to reduce the impact on local communities and the travelling public. The consultation closes on 25 September 2014. (12 August 2014) 

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

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DCLG: Protecting local authority leaseholders from unreasonable charges – Analysis of consultation responses and next steps: sets out the Government's response to the October 2013 consultation that proposed introducing a cap on the amount that local authorities and social housing providers can charge for future major repair, maintenance or improvement works which are wholly or partly funded by the Government. DCLG confirms that it will introduce such a cap - this will be £10,000 on leaseholder works on homes outside London, and £15,000 on homes within London. The Secretary of State has now issued a Mandatory Direction that implements these proposals from 12 August 2014, together with a Discretionary Direction that allows landlords to charge less. (11 August 2014)

DCLG: Housing zones prospectus: invites local authorities to bid for £200m funding to create 30 Housing Zones outside London to support development on brownfield land. Expressions of interest will in most cases consist of two elements – a request from a local authority for an area to be designated as a Housing Zone (HZ) and a bid for investment funding to be paid to one or a number of private sector development partners. The HZ must be for at least 750 housing units; there is no upper limit but DCLG expects the size of HZs to be between 750 to 2,000 units. Local authorities putting forward proposals for Housing Zones also have the opportunity to bid for the £5m local development order incentive fund and will benefit from the preference given to bidders who are participating in wider strategic initiatives. The closing date for Expressions of Interest is 3 October 2014.
For London boroughs, the Mayor of London has issued a London Housing Zones prospectus that formally invites bids from London boroughs for 20 housing zones, with a deadline of 30 September 2014. (12 August 2014)

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

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Cabinet Office: Social Value Act – Information and resources: online guide to the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 that includes sources of help and support for people who commission and provide public services and case studies that show best practice on implementing the Act. (19 August 2014)

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

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Public Health

Public Health England: Communicable disease outbreak management – Operational guidance: provides operational guidance for the management of local and national outbreaks of communicable disease in England. It is a framework for working across the new public health structures in local authorities, NHS England and other relevant bodies. The guidance can also be used to support CCGs and NHS England Area Teams to make sure that commissioned services have robust plans for responding to an outbreak. Local Health Resilience Partnerships can also use it when putting together Emergency Preparedness Resilience and Response plans. (12 August 2014)

DH: Transfer of 0-5 children’s public health commissioning to local authorities: planning and paying for public health services for 0-5 year olds will transfer from the NHS to local authorities in October 2015. This factsheet explains how and why the commissioning and associated funding are being transferred to local authorities. (22 August 2014)

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

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DCLG: Councils must clarify commitment to independent free press: announces that the Local Government Minister has written to seven local authorities concerning their possible non-compliance with some or all of the rules in the Publicity Code. He reminds them that where the Secretary of State considers there is a risk that in future a council will not be complying with those rules, he will be minded, in accordance with law, to issue a written notice of a proposed direction. Any council that does not follow such a direction could end up facing a court order requiring compliance. (21 August 2014)

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

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Regulatory Services

Control of Noise (Code of Practice on Noise from Audible Intruder Alarms) (Revocation) (England) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2123): this Order, which comes into force on 1 October 2014, withdraws the Code of Practice that sets out best practice in avoiding causing noise nuisance from intruder alarms. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, local authorities have powers to stop noise from misfiring intruder alarms to avoid them causing nuisance. The Code is a guide to the exercise of the powers under the EPA. However, more recent standards provide more appropriate assistance to local authorities and magistrates courts in the exercise of these powers. (7 August 2014)

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

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