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


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    Health and Social Care
   Anti-Social Behaviour    Housing
   Children's Services    Licensing
   Communities    Officers
   Economic Development    Planning Policy
   Education    Procurement
   Employment    Public Health
   Finance    Traffic and Transport


Access to Information

ICO: Findings from ICO audits of 16 local authorities, January to December 2013: summarises the findings from the ICO's audit of 16 local authorities last year. The audits include an overall assurance rating, but none received high assurance that they were complying with data protection law. Six were told they had considerable room for improvement, while one was warned that immediate action was required. The report includes a list of areas for improvement identified by the audits, notably improving training and ensuring effective data protection governance is in place. it also lists examples of good practice found during the audits, in areas such as information security and records management. (26 August 2014) 

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

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Anti-Social Behaviour

London Councils: Consultation on fixed penalty for anti-social spitting: seeks views on proposals to set the levels of fixed penalty fees for breaching London Boroughs' byelaws on the offence of anti-social spitting. London Councils' Transport and Environment Committee proposes that the levels for this offence should be in line with penalties for similar types of local nuisance behaviour, such as littering offences and Dog Control Orders (currently set at £80).  The consultation closes on 14 October 2014. (2 September 2014)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: Early education and childcare: statutory guidance for local authorities on their duties under ss.6, 7, 7A, 9A, 12 and 13 of the Childcare Act 2006. The guidance includes new elements relating to: the extension of the early education entitlement for 2-year-olds; the introduction of childminder agencies; and providers who do not actively promote fundamental British values or promote views or theories as fact which is contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations. It replaces the July 2013 statutory guidance. (8 September 2014)

Children and Young Persons Act 2008 (Relevant Care Functions) (England) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2407): these regulations, which came into force on 10 September 2014, enable a local authority to arrange for all of its children's social services functions (with some limited exceptions) to be discharged by a non-profit making third party provider. In addition, local authorities can also delegate certain duties relating to cooperation, Children’s Trust Boards and the implementation of Children and Young People’s Plans. (9 September 2014)
For a comment on these regulations, see our May 2014 alert on the draft regulations: Delegation of children's social care functions.

DfE: Working with foreign authorities – Child protection cases and care orders: non-statutory departmental advice containing a set of principles for social workers working on child protection cases and care orders, where the child has links to a foreign country. It also summarises the main international legislation, gives guidance on agencies and organisations that can help social workers in these cases, and lists other relevant guidance. (12 September 2014) 

DfE: Children’s homes regulations – High expectations and aspirations: seeks views on proposals to revise the Children’s Homes Regulations 2001. The draft Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015 include Quality Standards which set out the aspirational positive outcomes that homes are expected to achieve for each child in their care and the underpinning requirements that homes must meet in order to achieve those overarching outcomes. There is also a draft guide to the 2015 Regulations and the Quality Standards. The consultation closes on 14 November 2014. (19 September 2014)

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

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PM's Office: Cities of Service launches to help volunteers address local issues: announces the launch of a new programme that will encourage vounteers to get involved in local issues The first seven Cities of Service will be supported by Nesta and the Cabinet Office to encourage local volunteers to go out into their communities and address identified neighbourhood issues. (10 September 2014)

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

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Economic Development

RSA / City Growth Commission: Powers to grow – City finance and governance: this report argues that while much has been achieved under the Coalition to further the cause of city-led growth, e.g. City Deals, Growth Deals and the formal establishment of five Combined Authorities, the UK’s default mode of centralisation still represents a significant hurdle for the growth of metropolitan areas. It looks at some of the biggest challenges involved in the decentralisation process, with a view to embedding transformational reform. It sets out how devolution should not be a top-down blanket ‘policy’ but a process through which the UK’s major metropolitan areas can benefit from new powers and flexibilities that match their capability and ambition. It makes a number of recommendations, including further decentralisation for those areas ready to gain greater autonomy and devolution for those metros deemed ready to take on genuine risk. (8 September 2014)

IPPR North: Decentralisation decade – A plan for economic prosperity, public service transformation and democratic renewal in England: this report argues that England’s 80-year-long experiment with centralisation has failed, and it is time to embark on a new programme of decentralisation that will liberate the nation, drive prosperity and growth, and provide a new platform for more innovative and effective public service reform and a society which is more equal. It recommends that a new wave of combined authorities be established, including ‘county combined authorities’ in two-tier areas, with all combined authorities setting out clear plans for partnership-working and enhanced democratic accountability. Powers and responsibilities over economic development and key public services should be passed to combined authorities, local authorities and other local bodies as and when they are ready to assume them. Decentralisation must be underpinned by new legislation to strengthen the constitutional status of local government and its other subnational partners, similar to the Scotland and Wales Acts. (12 September 2014)

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

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DfE: Governors’ handbook: updated guidance for governors in maintained schools, academies and free schools on their roles and duties, along with contact details for GovernorLine. It also gives details of the policies and other documents that school governing bodies are legally required to hold. (10 September 2014)

DfE: A guide to new special free school revenue funding 2014 to 2015: sets outs how the revenue funding for new special free schools will be calculated and paid for the 2014/15 academic year. This is based on the core principle that free schools are funded at an equivalent level to the maintained schools and academies in the same local authority area. (9 September 2014) 

DfE: £13 million to boost national school leaders network: the Talented Leaders programme aims to recruit the nation’s best and brightest school leaders and match them with schools in rural, coastal or deprived areas that are facing some of the toughest challenges. The Future Leaders Trust, which is running the programme on behalf of DfE, is now inviting applications from headteachers and aspiring heads who are keen to make a real commitment to a school, its staff and its children for a minimum of three years. The initiative will deliver 100 school leaders in two phases, starting with Blackpool, Bradford, North Lincolnshire and Suffolk in September 2015. The Government has also announced a new £13m School-to-School Support Fund which will enable the National Leaders of Education over the next two years to help schools in challenging circumstances to improve. (10 September 2014)

DfE: Statutory policies for schools: updated non-statutory departmental advice for governing bodies and school proprietors on the policies and documents that they are required to have by law. The advice makes clear how often each policy must be reviewed and also shows the level of approval required, where this is prescribed in regulations. (12 September 2014)

HC Education Select Committee: Conflicts of interest in academy sponsorship arrangements: this research report looks at recent conflicts of interest in academy sponsorship arrangements as background for an Education Committee inquiry into academies and free schools. It identifies four broad areas in the current arrangements that could work against the best interests of academies and their students. The Committee will question the Secretary of State when she gives evidence to the inquiry next month and ask what will be done to tackle these concerns. (17 September 2014)

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

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Public Interest Disclosure (Prescribed Persons) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2418): Part 4A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides employment protection for workers who "blow the whistle" by making a disclosure to a prescribed person. The 1996 Act defines the categories of disclosure which qualify for protection and the circumstances in which such disclosures will be protected. This Order, which comes into force on 1 October 2014, lists who are prescribed persons and describes the matters for which they are prescribed. It revokes and replaces SI 1999/1549 (as amended). (10 September 2014)

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

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LGA: Project Team appointed to prepare Bonds Agency: reports on progress with the LGA's collective bonds agency, Local Capital Finance Company Ltd. 38 councils have joined the LGA as investors and >£4.5m (more than half of the full amount of capital required) has so far been raised to get the agency started. The press release gives details of the interim team of capital market professionals that has been appointed to take the agency through its next phase of development. (9 September 2014)

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

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LGA: Councils say constitutional convention must fast-track English devolution: the LGA is calling for the Government to set an urgent timetable for devolution across England following the ‘No' vote in the Scottish Referendum. It says that a Constitutional Convention should be set up urgently to agree a settlement on devolving powers down to local areas in England and Wales. (19 September 2014)

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

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Health and Social Care

NHS England: Guidance regarding the right to have a personal health budget for adults eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare and children eligible for continuing care: the 'right to ask' for a personal health budget of adults who are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare, and of children in receipt of continuing healthcare, will become a 'right to have' from October 2014. This guidance from NHS England supports commissioners in understanding the new responsibilities associated with the 'right to have' a personal health budget. There are also FAQs on personal health budgets. (4 September 2014)

DH: Display of performance assessments – Placing a legal requirement on registered providers to display the rating published by the Care Quality Commission: seeks views on proposals to make it a legal requirement for providers to display the performance rating given to them by the CQC. The Care Act 2014 will give the CQC the power to assess health and social care providers’ performance and give each a rating. These ratings are designed to improve transparency by providing service users and the public with a clear statement about the quality and safety of care provided. The ratings will also incentivise providers to improve services. The Government believes that these ratings should be on display in all locations that provide care to ensure that providers are transparent about their performance. The consultation document includes draft Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Regulations 2014. The consultation closes on 13 October 2014. (15 September 2014)

DH: Children with special educational and complex needs – Guidance for Health and Wellbeing Boards: the Children and Families Act 2014 introduces a new statutory requirement for local services to work together when providing care and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the new requirement. From September 2014, local authorities, CCGs and education services are expected to collaborate when assessing, commissioning and implementing care plans for children with SEND. This non-statutory guidance for HWBs advises on how best to oversee the implementation of changes made by the Act. (19 September 2014)

Care Act 2014 (Commencement No.2) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2473 (C.111)): this Order brings a number of provisions in the 2014 Act into force on 1 October 2014 for the purpose of enabling regulations to be made under those provisions. It also brings all the remaining provisions relating to the Health Research Authority into force on 1 January 2015. (12 September 2014)

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

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DCLG: Right to move – Consultation: seeks views on proposals to introduce a Right to Move for social tenants seeking to move to take up a job or be closer to work. The new rules would ensure that local residency requirements do not prevent social tenants from moving into the area to take up work or training opportunities. It proposes that social tenants relocating for work are given greater priority, either by creating a new ‘reasonable preference’ category or through strengthened statutory guidance to ensure local authorities apply the existing ‘hardship’ reasonable preference category to include people moving for work or training. New statutory guidance will also require authorities to provide at least 1% of their existing stock under the Right to Move scheme for tenants who need to move because of work or training. The consultation closes on 22 October 2014. (10 September 2014)

Age UK: Housing in later life: this report outlines some of the challenges and opportunities for older people’s housing with recommendations for action. It finds that unsuitable housing is leaving thousands of older people facing unnecessary delays in being discharged from hospital and that patients who need home adaptations, such as grab rails or ramps fitted at home, are having to wait for an extra 27 days on average, costing an estimated £11.2m per year in delayed discharges. It calls on the Government to ensure that all new homes are built to the lifetime homes standard so they can be easily adapted as people age. It also recommends that the Government works with local authorities to encourage the development of older people’s housing strategies which provide a range of different options, including smaller homes, flats, retirement villages, bungalows, shared ownership, private rented schemes, new forms of cooperative housing and co-housing. (3 September 2014)

DCLG: Housing standards review – Technical consultation: seeks views on draft technical housing standards that aim to underpin the delivery of high quality housing whilst ensuring that the overall cost of development is reduced. They include mandatory security standards to ensure homes are better protected from crime, and optional  wheelchair user and higher water efficiency standards. In addition, there is a national space standard for new dwellings to enable local authorities, communities and neighbourhoods to influence the size of development in their local area. It also includes changes to guidance on external waste storage that clarify the existing provisions and help to ensure external waste storage is properly considered in new housing development. The consultation closes on 7 November 2014. (12 September 2014)

Housing (Wales) Act 2014: this Act has received Royal Assent. It takes forward the Welsh Government’s three strategic priorities for housing: more homes, better homes, and better services. The Act's provisions include: 

  • reform of homelessness law, including a stronger duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness and allowing them to use suitable accommodation in the private sector;
  • a duty on local authorities to provide sites for gypsy and traveller communities in response to identified need;
  • standards for local authority rents, services charges and quality of accommodation; and
  • abolition of the Housing Revenue Account Subsidy system.

Part 5 of the Act (Housing finance) comes into force on 17 November 2014. The remainder of the Act comes into force on a day to be appointed by the Welsh Ministers. (17 September 2014)

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

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Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Licensing Conditions) (Amendment) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2440): this Order, which comes into force on 1 October 2014, substitutes a new Sch.1 to SI 2010/860 that sets out the four mandatory conditions which apply to relevant premises licences and club premises certificates. The conditions apply to all relevant premises licences and all relevant club premises certificates authorising consumption of alcohol on the premises, with the exception of the condition in para.3 of the Schedule, requiring an age verification policy to be adopted, which applies in addition to licences and certificates which permit the supply of alcohol only for consumption off the premises. (11 September 2014)

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

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HC Communities & Local Government Select Committee: Local government chief officers’ remuneration: this report scrutinises senior officers' pay in the wake of 75% pay rises for senior council staff in the first decade of this century. The Committee finds that the vast majority of councils have kept pay down for senior staff in recent tough economic yearsand it urges councils to act to ensure there is no return to these inflation-busting increases as economic conditions improve. Councils must also seek better market information to make sure they are not paying over the odds and develop more robust appraisal systems to get value for money from their top staff. The Committee recommends that local councillors closely scrutinise decisions on senior pay, since it is action by local communities that has often been effective in halting proposed excessive pay rises. The report acknowledges that innovative approaches such as sharing a Chief Executive with other local councils can reduce overall salary bills and that councils should consider measures which can deliver best value for their communities. However, the Committee does not support merging the posts of Leader of the Council and Chief Executive since each has a distinct role, with the robust challenge between the two posts helping to safeguard effective services for local communities. (12 September 2014)

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

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Planning Policy

DCLG: Planning and travellers: seeks views on proposed changes to National Planning Policy and planning policy for traveller sites to ensure that the planning system applies fairly and equally to both the settled community and travellers, strengthen protection of sensitive areas and the green belt, and deal with the negative effects of unauthorised occupation of land. It also seeks comments on new streamlined planning guidance for travellers that supports local authorities to objectively and robustly assess their traveller accommodation needs, and further clarifies where Temporary Stop Notices can be used. The consultation closes on 23 November 2014. (14 September 2014)

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

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Cabinet Office: UK transposition of new EU Procurement Directives: seeks views on draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015 that implement the Public Procurement Directive 2014/24 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Once in force, the new regulations will replace the current Public Contracts Regulations 2006. The draft Regulations use a “copy out” approach to the transposition of the provisions of the Directive, which means that they follow the language, layout and numbering in the Directive as closely as possible. This approach, together with other helpful information on drafting, is explained in the Technical Note on Drafting that accompanies the draft Regulations. The consultation closes on 17 October 2014. (19 September 2014)
See our alert: New draft Procurement Regulations published.

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

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Public Health

DH: Health Premium Incentive Scheme 2014/15 and public health allocations – A technical consultation: seeks views from local authority commissioners and financial directors, Directors of Public Health and local representative bodies such as Health and Wellbeing Boards, on plans for the introduction of the Health Premium Incentive Scheme (HPIS), which rewards local authorities for public health improvements made in line with selected indicators from the public health Outcomes Framework. The consultation focuses on the technical design of the scheme and the chosen indicators from the Outcomes Framework that will reward public health improvements. It also seeks views on technical aspects of public health funding allocations for 2015 to 2016. Annex B sets out the core allocations for public health funding for 2015 to 2016. The consultation closes on 23 October 2014. (9 September 2014) 

PHE: Making it work – A guide to whole system commissioning for sexual health, reproductive health and HIV: PHE, NHS England, LGA, ADPH and DH have issued this guide to support those commissioning sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services. It focuses on pulling the whole system together to make sense for the patient and to deliver best outcomes. The guide highlights the importance of putting service users and their needs at the heart of commissioning to ensure they experience integrated, responsive services, and emphasises the importance of tackling the wider determinants of health. It also sets out 12 key principles for best practice commissioning along with 15 commissioning case studies providing examples of whole system thinking. The guide is available as one large document or in three separate parts (main guide, case studies and annexes). (5 September 2014)

PHE: Public Health in the 21st century – Organising and managing multidisciplinary teams in a local government context: joint guidance on the appropriate employment of public health professionals who carry out roles as consultants in public health and Directors of Public Health and who are included on the GMC Specialist Register/GDC Specialist List or the UK Public Health Register for Public Health Specialists. It outlines the challenges that councils have identified so far in developing public health teams, discusses the mix of skills and disciplines that councils may need to ensure they have access to in taking forward innovative approaches to public health; and advises on approaches to terms and conditions of employment, including a discussion of any equal pay risks. (15 August 2014)

PHE: Local action on health inequalities – Evidence papers: PHE has published a series of eight evidence reviews and 14 short briefing papers that show evidence for interventions on social issues that lead to poor health, including ways to deal with health inequalities. Local authority professionals and public health teams can use them to get practical tips for dealing with these issues. They also show examples from local areas showing interventions that have been used to improve health. (18 September 2014)

PHE: Global health strategy 2014 to 2019: this document sets out PHE's approach to global health for the next five years, and provides a framework for its international engagement. The strategy links to the PHE business plan and knowledge strategy, and will connect with PHE's emerging research and academic strategy, commercial strategy and infectious diseases strategy. (17 September 2014)

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

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Traffic and Transport

DfT: Greener fire engines, ambulances, buses and taxis on the way: announces that 17 successful local authorities and other public sector bodies have been awarded funding from the Clean Vehicle Technology Fund to fit pollution-reducing technologies to their vehicles, including buses, taxis, vans, fire engines and ambulances. (8 September 2014)

LGA: Better roads for England: this report examines the roads crisis facing the country. It provides evidence that the current system for decision making and funding for transport is broken and explores more value for money ways of delivering better roads and transport services that communities and local economies need. It calls on Government to address the pothole backlog by investing 2p per litre from the existing fuel duty to fix local roads. It suggests a number of changes, including: removing the ring-fencing that divides transport spending into discrete pots; funding allocations to cover periods of at least five years, especially for road maintenance and management; and all councils in England to have the same traffic management powers as London and Wales to reduce the costs, emissions and disruption from congestion. (12 September 2014)

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

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