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    Health and Social Care
   Anti-social Behaviour    Housing
   Children's Services    Licensing
   Delivery of Services    Planning Policy
   Devolution    Police
   Economic Development    Procurement
   Education    Public Health
   Employment    Regulatory Services
   Finance    Tortious Liability
   Fire Authorities    Transport
   Governance    Welfare Reform

 

Access to Information

Local Government (Transparency Requirements) (England) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2680): these regulations, which come into force on 31 October 2014, require authorities in England to publish the information specified in Part 2 of the Local Government Transparency Code 2014 in the manner and form and on the occasions specified in Part 2 of that Code. (9 October 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

CQC: Provider handbooks for adult social care services: CQC has published handbooks that help care providers to understand how they will be assessed and rated from now on. Specialist teams, including trained members of the public (called Experts by Experience), will inspect services, unannounced, against what matters most to the people who use them. CQC will then rate these services as Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate so that the public has clear information to help them make choices about their care. CQC has issued one handbook covering its regulation of residential adult social care (care homes, with and without nursing) and another covering its regulation of community adult social care (including services that care for people in their own homes). (9 October 2014)

DH: Draft knowledge and skills statement for social workers in adult services: seeks views on a draft statement that explains what adult social workers need to know at the end of their first year in practice. It also asks for views on whether the statement will help inform national minimum assessment criteria for social workers in adult services. The statement has been put together by the Chief Social Worker for Adults, following Professor Croisdale-Appleby’s review of education of social workers with adults. The consultation closes on 12 December 2014. (10 October 2014)

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

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Anti-social Behaviour

DEFRA: Dealing with irresponsible dog ownership – Practitioners’ manual: this manual helps practitioners in local authorities and the police deal with dog-related incidents. It includes how to help prevent matters escalating, using the powers contained within the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The manual sets out the main legal provisions and defining the various agencies' responsibilities, identifying the areas where a joint approach might be advisable. Annexes A-D include good practice examples. (17 October 2014)

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

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Children's Services

DfE: The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations – Volume 3: Planning transition to adulthood for care leavers: revised statutory guidance for local authorities on helping care leavers aged 16 and 17 prepare for adulthood. It provides information for local authorities on how to meet the requirements of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 regarding support to young people who have ceased to be looked after. (7 October 2014) 

Welsh Government: Early Years Outcomes Framework: seeks views on a draft framework that will be used to help understand the extent to which the Early Years and Childcare Plan for Wales and programmes are making an impact. The Framework will also be used by everyone who leads, commissions and delivers services in Wales for children and families from pregnancy up to age seven as a tool to drive improvements at local level. The consultation closes on 15 January 2015. (16 October 2014)

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

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Delivery of Services

DCLG: Supporting People payment by results pilots – Final evaluation: The Supporting People Payment by Results (PbR) pilots had the flexibility to develop their own approaches to pilot the commissioning and delivery of PbR for Supporting People services. These are non-statutory housing support services, commissioned by local authorities, to help vulnerable people, including older people, homeless families, ex-offenders, young people at risk and people with disabilities, to maintain or achieve independence and avoid crises. This is the final report from the evaluation of the pilots. The report explores how, why and under what circumstances a PbR model could be applied in a supporting people context. It also provides helpful pointers to guide any future commissioning. (10 October 2014)

Welsh Government: Welsh Government announces £20m boost for public services through Invest to Save Programme: the Welsh Finance and Government Business Minister Jane Hutt has launched the next round of Invest to Save funding with over £20m available for new investments in 2015-16. The fund helps public sector organisations deliver improvements to frontline services across Wales and generate cash efficiency savings. The closing date for expressions of interest is 7 January 2015. (7 October 2014)

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

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Devolution

Scotland Office: The parties’ published proposals on further devolution for Scotland: on 19 September 2014 the Smith Commission was established to facilitate talks on the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Smith Commission will publish its Heads of Agreement in November this year. In parallel, the UK Government has agreed to set out the range of proposals that have been made on further devolution. This Command Paper sets out the published proposals for further devolution by the three main UK political parties that have already been put forward. (13 October 2014) 

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

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Economic Development

Cabinet Office: Growth Deals: Greg Clark, Minister for Universites, Science and Cities, has signed two further Growth Deals provide funds to local enterprise partnerships or LEPs (partnerships between local authorities and businesses) for projects that benefit the local area and economy:

  • Cornwall and Isles of Scilly: £48.9m of government funding, plus a further £150m of additional investment from local partners and the private sector; 
  • Heart of the South West: £130.3m of government funding, plus a further £140m of additional investment from local partners and the private sector.

Better Regulation Delivery Office: Economic development and regulation: this is the executive summary of a report that explores the links between economic development and regulatory activity, with the aims of determining the scale of joint working, identifying examples of good practice, and informing the development of a toolkit. (10 October 2014) 

London Councils: Making devolution work: this paper outlines how to ensure that London remains a world-city by allowing it more scope to set its own affairs over key areas like housing, skills and employment. (14 October 2014)

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

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Education

DfE: School attendance: departmental advice for school governors, head teachers and local authorities on maintaining high levels of school attendance and planning school hours, terms and holiday dates. It provides information about the interventions available to address pupils’ poor attendance and behaviour at school. It should be read alongside the statutory guidance on parental measures for school attendance and behaviour. (6 October 2014)

DfE: Keeping children safe in education – Childcare disqualification requirements: supplementary advice: this advice is a supplement to the Keeping children safe in education statutory guidance. It helps schools understand what they are required to do to comply with childcare legislation. (10 October 2014)

DfE: The academy / free school presumption – Departmental advice for local authorities and new school proposers: updated departmental advice on establishing new schools and the qualities that new school proposers must demonstrate, under s.6A of the Education Act 2011. The updated document clarifies the process for assessing proposals to establish and run new schools. (15 October 2014) 

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

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Employment

DBIS: Employment review launched to improve clarity and status of British workforce: the Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a wide-ranging employment review to help clarify and potentially strengthen the employment status of workers. This follows the recent review and upcoming legislation of zero hours contracts, which revealed that an increasing number of people in the UK who could be on ‘worker’ employment contracts which have fewer basic rights than the vast majority of people who are on 'employee' contracts. The review will look at how clear the current employment framework is, what the options are to extend some employment rights to more people and whether there is scope to streamline this very complex area of employment law, thus simplifying and clarifying rights for both employers and employees. (6 October 2014)

DCLG: The Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) (Governance) Regulations 2014 – Better governance and improved accountability in the Local Government Pension Scheme: seeks views on draft regulations relating to the introduction of governance and cost control arrangements to the new LGPS in England and Wales. The main provisions include a requirement for the Secretary of State to establish a national scheme advisory board to advise him on the desirability of changes to the scheme. Provision is also made for administering authorities to establish local pension boards to assist them with the effective and efficient management and administration of the scheme; also, for a set of new cost control mechanisms to be introduced. The consultation closes on 21 November 2014. (10 October 2014)

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

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Energy

DECC: Heat Networks Delivery Unit – Overview of grant funding and guidance available to local authorities developing heat networks: Round 4 of the Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) funding is now open. HNDU can support local authorities in the development stages of heat networks up to the development of an investment grade proposal. This document sets out the HNDU’s offering to local authorities and provides all the information a local authority would need to bid for this support. The closing date for applications is 27 November 2014. (16 October 2014)

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

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Finance

Welsh Government: Minister announces £4 billion settlement for council services: the Welsh Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews has announced that local authorities will receive funding totalling more than £4bn from the Welsh Government in 2015-16. This represents a decrease of 3.4% on what they received last year on a like for like basis.
For full details, see Local Government Revenue and Capital Settlement 2015-16. (8 October 2014)

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

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Fire Authorities

DCLG: Emergency services collaboration: the latest issue of the Fire and Rescue Monthly Bulletin (no.50) includes an item about the Cross-Emergency Services Working Group on collaboration that has been established to provide strategic leadership, co-ordination and overview on a national level of current and future emergency service collaboration. The Working Group will act as a national driver for innovation and best practice in order to further enhance and develop emergency service collaboration. The Group held its first meeting on 24 September 2014. It will publish a National Overview of existing collaboration activities later in the year, and will also commission a programme of research in order to better understand the barriers to implementing collaboration more widely. (6 October 2014)

DCLG: Fire services improvement fund – Public get a win-win: Better local services and at lower cost: announces the 37 fire and rescue authority projects that will share £75m funding from the Fire Transformation Fund to help ensure better and more efficient front-line services for the public. (17 October 2014)

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

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Governance

Welsh Government: Planning committees, delegation and joint planning boards: seeks views on proposals to introduce a national scheme of delegation in relation to local planning authority planning decisions, and to prescribe the size and make up of planning committees. It also asks for comments on proposals in the Planning (Wales) Bill for joint planning boards and strategic planning panels, considering how the size and composition of such arrangements can be structured in accordance with the Bill provisions for prescribing the size of planning committees. The consultation closes on 16 January 2015. (6 October 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

DH: Boost for carers from rise in allowance threshold: announces that the earnings threshold for Carers' Allowance will be raised to £110 a week from April 2015. This is a rise of £8 on the previous limit of £102. The change means that more people will have the opportunity to work part-time and still be eligible for the full £61.35 a week Carers’ Allowance. (5 October 2014)

CQC: Cracks in the pathway – People’s experiences of dementia care as they move between care homes and hospitals: this thematic review of dementia care finds that it is likely that someone living with dementia will experience poor care as they move between care homes and hospitals. The report says the variation in how care is assessed, planned, delivered and monitored by hospitals and care homes puts people living with dementia at risk of experiencing poor care. It found that when people are admitted to hospital via A&E there is too much focus on a person's physical health needs. There is also poor sharing of information between health professionals, people living with dementia in care homes and hospitals may not be able to tell staff about their pain and there is a lack of understanding and knowledge of dementia care by staff. The report adds that supporting both the physical health and mental wellbeing of a person can help reduce avoidable admissions to hospital and unnecessary long stays in hospital. (13 October 2014)

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

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Housing

DCLG: Councils can do their bit to get Britain building: the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has announced new powers for councils to help them build new affordable homes across the country. The minister confirmed that 22 councils will be able to borrow an additional £122m over the next two years through the second round of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing programme, to deliver over 1,700 new affordable homes and support local growth. (9 October 2014)

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

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Licensing

Home Office: Explanatory memorandum – Revised guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003: explains revisions to the statutory guidance issued in consequence of the Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Conditions) Order 2014 (SI 2014/1252). Most of the revisions to the guidance are made in Chapter 10 (Conditions attached to premises licences and club premises certificates) in consequence of the Order, but a limited number of revisions and corrections are also made elsewhere in the guidance to improve its clarity and consistency. (13 October 2014)

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

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Planning Policy

DCLG: Councils must protect our precious green belt land: draws attention to new Planning Practice Guidance that reaffirms how councils should use their Local Plan to safeguard their local area against urban sprawl, and protect the green lungs around towns and cities. The guidance explains that, once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional cases, through the preparation or review of the Local Plan. It also states that housing need – including for traveller sites – does not justify the harm done to the green belt by inappropriate development. (6 October 2014)

DEFRA: The biodiversity duty for public authorities: guidance on public authorities' biodiversity duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, which requires them to show regard for conserving biodiversity in all their actions. it sets out what the biodiversity duty is, the activities it applies to, and how public authorities can show they're complying with it. (13 October 2014)

DCLG: National planning policy for waste: this document sets out detailed waste planning policies. It strengthens the policy on planning for waste facilities such as recycling plants, making clear that companies and councils looking to build these should first look for suitable sites and areas on brownfield land. The new rules also change the previous policy so that councils can no longer give special consideration to locational needs, or wider economic benefits that the site could bring, over other considerations, as justification for building waste facilities on green belt land. All local planning authorities should have regard to this guidance when discharging their waste management responsibilities. (16 October 2014)

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

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Police

Committee on Standards in Public Life: Police accountability structures – Issues and questions paper: the Committee on Standards in Public Life has launched an inquiry into the accountability structures of the police. It states that the current model as a whole, and individual elements of it, have been the subject of criticism. Much of this relates to standards issues, yet the relationship between standards and governance structures has been relatively underexplored. The Committee intends to look at the structures in place for ensuring ethical standards in the conduct and performance of Police and Crime Panels, Police and Crime Commissioners, and Chief Constables. It will then go on to consider how effective those structures are, what works well and, if there are shortcomings, identify what we would expect to see – in any model for police accountability. It will be seeking the necessary assurance that ethical standards in public life are, and are capable of being, upheld. The closing date for comments is 30 November 2014. (6 October 2014)

R (Mackaill) v Independent Police Complaints Commission [2014] EWHC 3170 (Admin) (Admin Ct): this arose out of the so-called Plebgate affair concerning an altercation between Andrew Mitchell MP and police officers at the gates to Downing St in September 2012. The three claimants were police officers who were the subject of an investigation into their conduct after they had made statements to the media about what had allegedly been said by Mr Mitchell to them at a subsequent constituency meeting. The matter was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which elected not to conduct its own investigation; instead it directed that there be an investigation by the relevant police forces which the IPCC would supervise. The three authorities then determined that in each case there was no case to answer. The IPCC Deputy Chair then purported to redetermine the mode of investigation into the conduct of the three claimants by turning it into an independent investigation undertaken by the IPCC, in exercise of the powers under Sch.3 para.15(5) to the Police Reform Act 2002. The claimants applied for juduical review of that decision, contending that the IPCC had no power to re-determine, or justification in re-determining, as it did. The IPCC in turn challenged the validity of the appropriate authorities' determinations that each claimant had no case to answer, whether for gross misconduct or misconduct.
The court held, granting the application, that the procedural irregularities were so fundamental that the the subsequent determinations were invalid and of no effect. Given the catalogue of fundamental errors and the public interest and importance attending this matter, there was a strong case for the exercise of the power under para.15(5)  and the decision to exercise was not perverse or Wednesbury unreasonable. However, the principles relating to apparent bias or predetermination required that the IPCC Deputy Chair should not herself have made that decision so her decision would be quashed. But the IPCC as an entire institution could not be regarded as biased and so it could properly be left to re-determine the matter under para.15(5) and to manage or to conduct for itself any subsequent investigation. (6 October 2014)

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

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Procurement

Willmott Dixon Partnership v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC [2014] EWHC 3191 (TCC): WDP was an unsuccessful tenderer for a contract awarded by the Council for a range of repairs and maintenance services. It challenged the award on the grounds of breach of statutory duty under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, breach of principles of EU law and breach of an implied contract. WDP contended that new or inadmissible criteria had been taken into account in the evaluation of the tenderers' quality submissions and that the evaluation process had not been conducted in accordance with the tender documents.
The court held, dismissing the application, that
 there had been no systemic defect in the evaluation process, nor had there had been breaches of the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination in the marking of tenders. (9 October 2014)

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

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Public Health

LGA: Making every contact count – taking every opportunity to improve health and wellbeing: this report looks at the "Making every contact count (MECC)" approach to improving health and reducing health inequalities that has been developed by the NHS and local government. Every contact with a customer should be seen as an opportunity to encourage healthier lifestyle choices. But tackling sensitive issues such as weight loss, smoking cessation or alcohol abuse requires expertise, confidence and knowledge in order to deliver the message effectively. (2 October 2014)

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

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Regulatory Services

DBIS: Implementing the Consumer Rights Bill: the Consumer Rights Bill, which is currently progessing through Parliament, provides for a major overhaul of consumer law. The Government intends it to come into force on 1 October 2015, subject to Parliament’s approval. This document summarises the plans to implement the measures in the Bill. (9 October 2014)

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

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Tortious Liability

AA v Southwark LBC [2014] EWHC 500 (QBD): the High Court has upheld a social housing tenant's claim for damages from the Council for a tortious conspiracy involving his eviction and disposal of his possessions. The judge held that:

  • the eviction was unlawful and an abuse of process both because the warrant was issued without the prior permission of the court and in the manner in which it was executed;
  • the various officers conspired to evict the claimant by unlawful means, to seize and destroy his possessions by unlawful means and to cause him harm and loss be evicting him of his possessions by unlawful means. This conspiracy was subsequently covered up by a further conspiracy which gave rise to abuse of process in the subsequent court proceedings and to a continuing deprivation of AA's enjoyment of his tenancy and loss of his possessions;
  • three officers exercised their powers as public officers in relation to a local authority secure tenancy for an improper motive with the intention of harming AA by having him evicted when there were no reasonable grounds for his eviction and by arranging for his possessions to be seized and destroyed unlawfully;
  • AA had also been caused loss by the Council's negligence, by its breach of his right to the quiet enjoyment of his tenancy and as a result of the lack of respect shown to his private life by the Council;

The court held that AA was entitled to substantial damages that extended to special or general damages, aggravated and exemplary damages and damages for breach of contract and for the various torts he had been subject to and for equitable remuneration for the lost work stored on his hard drives, discs and memory sticks and for his lost photographs as well as a remedy for the loss of his tenancy on a basis still to be determined. (14 October 2014)

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

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Transport

Regional Transport Planning (Wales) Order 2014 (SI 2014/2178 (W.212)): ss.108 - 109C of the Transport Act 2000 require local transport authorities to develop policies for the promotion of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services within their area, known collectively as a local transport plan. This Order, which comes into force on 4 September 2014, exercises the power of the Welsh Ministers under s.113A of the Transport Act 2000 to permit local transport plans to be made in respect of part only of an authority’s area. It also allows two or more local transport authorities to produce a joint local transport plan for the whole or part of their collective area. (14 August 2014)

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

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Welfare Reform

DWP: Universal Support – delivered locally: Information for local authorities: updated guidance on how local authorities and DWP will work together to trial local Universal Support for Universal Credit claimants. (6 October 2014)

DCLG: Local welfare provision in 2015 to 2016: parts of DWP’s discretionary Social Fund, introduced in 1987, were abolished by the Welfare Reform Act 2012. This paved the way for the delivery of new local welfare provision by local authorities, replacing Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans. This consultation seeks views on how local welfare provision should be funded in 2015 to 2016. The consultation closes on 21 November 2014. (10 October 2014)

DWP: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) quick guide: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claims from people aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 or who turn(ed) 16 after that date. This guide for advisers contains information on who is eligible, how the claim process works, how the rate is calculated and the timetable for implementation of PIP.
There is also a PIP myth-buster that aims to provide reassurance on some common misunderstandings about PIP. (17 October 2014)

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

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