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    Health and Social Care
   Audit    Highways
   Benefits    Housing
   Children's Services    Libraries
   Community Infrastructure Levy    National Parks
   Community Rights    Noise and Nuisance
   Community Safety    Parish Councils
   Compulsory Purchase    Police
   Delivery of Services    Publicity
   Economic Development    Rating
   Education    Regulatory Services
   Finance    Traffic and Transport
   Fire and Rescue Authorities


Access to Information

Smaller Authorities (Transparency Requirements) (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/494): these regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2015, require smaller authorities to publish the information specified in the Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities that was issued on 17 December 2014. "Smaller authorities" include parish councils, internal drainage boards, port health authorities and charter trustees, with an annual turnover not exceeding £25,000. (9 March 2015)

DCLG: New wave of innovation to update statutory notices for 21st Century: announces £950,000 funding for 23 local pilot programmes as part of efforts to help councils bring their public information requirements into line with modern media. The pilots, which wil run until August 2015, include collaborations between councils and local media organisations, tests of new technology such as mobile phone applications and social media, and consultations with local people over how they want to receive information. (13 March 2015)

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

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Adult Social Services

DCLG: £10 million support for women facing the threat of domestic violence: announces the award of £10m funding for 148 local authorities, to help them support refuges in their areas and boost provision for vulnerable victims of domestic violence and their families. (9 March 2015)

Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill: this Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is now in the four week period of intimation prior to being submitted for Royal Assent. The Bill places duties on the Welsh Ministers, Welsh local uthorities and Local Health Boards to prepare and publish strategies aimed at ending domestic abuse, gender-based violence and sexual violence. It also provides a power to the Welsh Ministers to issue guidance to relevant authorities on how they should exercise their functions with a view to contributing to ending domestic abuse, gender-based violence and sexual violence. The Bill contains provision for the appointment of a Ministerial Adviser. (10 March 2015)

LGA / ADASS: The impact of the judgment of the Supreme Court on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards on healthcare: this briefing considers the financial impact on local authorities of the decision in P (by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) v Cheshire West and Chester Council [2014] UKSC 19. (16 March 2015)

ADASS:  Distinctive, valued, personal – Why social care matters: The next five years: this report outlines the developmental steps that are needed to be taken immediately after the General Election in order to ensure a safe, secure and personalised care and health system for older and disabled people. (16 March 2015)

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

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DCLG: Changes to the smaller authorities’ local audit and accountability framework: this guide explains the changes and key requirements of the new local audit and accountability regime for smaller authorities from 1 April 2015. It sets out the changes in two stages: from April 2015 after the closure of the Audit Commission, and from April 2017 with the introduction of the local auditor appointment. (11 March 2015)

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

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DWP: HB Subsidy Circular S3/2015 – Fraud and Error Reduction Incentive Scheme 2015/16 funding: in November 2014, the Government announced the Fraud and Error Reduction Incentive Scheme (FERIS) for local authorities, in order to significantly reduce fraud and error in the Housing Benefit caseload during 2014/15, 2015/16 and beyond. FERIS is a 16 month scheme running from November 2014 to March 2016. This circular sets out the arrangements for distributing the FERIS funding to local authorities in 2015/16. It includes a list of activities approved for start-up funding and potential amounts of FERIS and maintenance fund payments. It also explains the process for applying for maintenance funding. (16 March 2015)

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

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Children's Services

HC Public Accounts Committee: Children in care: this report scrutinises the DfE's role regarding policy responsibility for children in care, and national oversight of the local authorities who provide the services for these children. It concludes that the DfE is best placed to lead improvements in the quality of care and stability of placements, but it is reluctant to take on this role. There are many bodies, including local authorities and Ofsted, involved in the care system and the Committee does not expect the DfE to do everything; however there are some oversight functions only it can fulfil and others where it is the best placed body to lead improvements in care. Unless the DfE steps up and embraces this role the system will not improve. The DfE is reluctant to accept it has a role in setting expectations for service performance, taking an overview of the market for care services, or using data to hold local authorities to account and to intervene and support local authorities before they fail Ofsted inspections. Leaving poor services to fester has meant that the DfE has had to intervene in 21 local authorities. The DfE does collect data but apart from making it available it fails to use this data to promote what works and to support local authorities that are struggling. The Committee makes a number of recommendations. (11 March 2015)

LGO: Are we getting the best from children’s social care complaints? Focus report: learning lessons from complaints: this report highlights the pressures on the complaints system for children’s care services. Through a number of case studies, the LGO shows some of the common issues it sees in children’s social care complaints, including: failure to recognise a children’s service complaint; long delays in the process; refusal to go through all stages of the process; and choosing the wrong complaints procedure. The report adds to an ongoing debate in local government about whether the current statutory procedure for children’s services complaints is the best way to ensure effective outcomes for children and young people. (10 March 2015)

Ofsted: Social care annual report 2013/14: Ofsted’s second annual social care report highlights the difficulties authorities are facing within a children’s social care system under pressure, with increasing demand for services and continued intense public scrutiny. (10 March 2015) 

Ofsted: Joining the dots – Effective leadership of children’s services: this report explores the ways in which successful leadership in children’s services leads to better practice and improves the lives of children and families. it draws on evidence from nine local authorities in which Ofsted identified the common characteristics of successful leaders in children’s services. Leadership style was found to be a critical feature. Although not all leaders possessed the same qualities, the style in which they engaged their staff, partners and local community was central to their success in driving change and improvement. (10 March 2015)

Ofsted: Early help – Whose responsibility?: this thematic inspection evaluates the effectiveness of early help services for children and families provided by local authorities and their partners. (10 March 2015)

DCLG: More than 105,000 troubled families turned around saving taxpayers an estimated £1.2 billion: highlights the success of the Troubled Families Programme in getting children back into school, putting adults in employment or on a path back to work and cutting youth crime and anti-social behaviour across the whole household.
DCLG has also published a report on the benefits of the Programme to the taxpayer that gives detailed examples of savings that have been made, and costs that have been avoided for many parts of public services, in seven exemplar local authority areas. (10 March 2015)

HC Communities and Local Government Committee: Child sexual exploitation in Rotherham – Ofsted and further government issues: the Committee has published a further report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that follows up the November 2014 report. It finds that in spite of repeated inspections, Ofsted failed to detect either the evidence, or the knowledge within the council, of large-scale child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. The report points to an Ofsted inspection framework lacking sufficient focus on child sexual exploitation and a reporting regime which risks offering false assurance to authorities across England that events in Rotherham are not being repeated in their localities. (12 March 2015)

HC Home Affairs Committee: Female genital mutilation – Follow-up: this report revisits the issue of FGM since the Committee's Juy 2014 report. It finds that the work that has been done by the media, politicians and most importantly by survivors and campaigners has raised the profile of FGM, so that many more people are aware of this horrendous form of child abuse. However, it is still the case that there have been no successful prosecutions for FGM in the UK in the last 20 years. This record is lamentable. The message must be repeated clearly: the practice of FGM is abominable and it must be challenged wherever it is found. A sustained campaign will increase awareness among professionals of the training that is available to them, and direct victims of FGM to the support services that are provided. (14 March 2015)

ADCS: Orchestrating the system for the benefit of children and young people; Education; and Early Years policy position papers: ADCS has published a suite of policy position papers outlining key issues affecting children, young people, their families and the professionals who work with them. (13 March 2015)

Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/495): these regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2015, amend SI 2010/959 which provides for care planning for looked after children. They create a statutory concept of “long term fostering” by inserting a definition of “long term foster placement” into the 2010 Regulations, setting out the conditions that must be complied with before a child can be placed in a long term fostering placement and making provision as to the frequency of reviews. They aso amend the arrangements that a local authority must make when it is considering ceasing to look after a child, including the need for the decision to be approved by a nominated officer or the director of children’s services. The regulations also amend the Independent Review of Determinations (Adoption and Fostering) Regulations 2009, the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 and the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010. (6 March 2015)

LGA: 'Staying put' in foster care: this briefing highlights concerns over the implementation of the ‘Staying Put’ programme for young people. It argues that there is an urgent case for more funding so councils can facilitate Staying Put arrangements and meet the commitments already made to young people and carers. (13 March 2015)

Welsh Government: Changes to the registration of childcare provision in Wales: seeks views on proposed changes to require childcare providers to register if caring for children under the age of 16, or 17 if disabled, instead of under the age of 8. The consultation closes on 5 June 2015. (16 March 2015)

Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/527): local authorities in England have a duty under s.17ZA of the Children Act 1989 to assess whether young carers in their area have needs for support and, if so, what those needs are. These regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2015, prescribe: the manner in which local authorities must carry out young carers’ needs assessments; the training and expertise required from those who carry out the assessments; and the matters which the local authority must determine or consider when carrying out those assessments. (6 March 2015) 

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

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Community Infrastructure Levy

R (Hourhope Ltd) v Shropshire Council [2015] EWHC 518 (Admin) (Admin Ct): H, a property developer, applied for judicial review of the Council's refusal to amend the amount of Community Infrastructure levy (CIL) charged. H had planning permission to demolish a pub and develop the site for housing. The Council imposed a liability on H to pay CIL amounting to £40,705. H  claimed that it was entitled to a deduction by virtue of the pub having been "in lawful use" during the requisite period under reg.40(7) of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, even though it had ceased to trade. H contended that the pub manager's occupancy of the manager's accommodation and the presence of pub fixtures and fittings on the site meant that the building continued to be in lawful use. The Council argued that "in lawful use" meant that it was not enough that the building merely had a lawful use to which it could be put, but it must actually be being used for such a purpose.
The court held, refusing the application, that there was no relevant legislative definition of "in lawful use" so the question was one of statutory interpretation. The words "in lawful use" and "in-use building" clearly suggested that something more was required than that a building had a use to which it might theoretically be put, i.e. that the building was actually being used for that purpose. The mere existence of a lawful use in planning terms was not sufficient to constitute that building an "in-use building"; actual use was required in order that the building could be said to be "in use" for the purposes of reg.40(7). The Council was right to consider the question as whether the building was in actual lawful use for the relevant period, and not whether the existing authorised use had been abandoned, and the onus was on H to satisfy the Council in that regard. The most important characteristic of use as a pub was plainly the opening of the premises to the public for sale of drink and food. It was open to the Council to conclude that the use as a pub ceased when such trading came to an end.  The Council was entitled to conclude that leaving items behind on the premises in circumstances where there was no evidence of any intention to remove them constituted abandonment of those items rather than storage. Having reached that conclusion, it would have been an error of law to regard their presence as continued lawful use. (2 March 2015)

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

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Community Rights

Cabinet Office: Social action – Harnessing the potential: Discussion paper: this paper explains what social action is and how it plays an important role in helping to respond to long-standing challenges. It sets out how social action empowers communities and complements public services, and provides an update on government programmes to develop its reach and impact. (12 March 2015)

DCLG: Launch of Great British High Street competition 2015: announces the second Great British High Street competition, giving towns and cities the opportunity to win a share of £50,000. The deadline for entries is 17 July 2015. (13 March 2015)

Community Right to Challenge (Business Improvement Districts) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/582): these regulations, which come into force on 6 March 2015, add a body responsible for the implementation of Business Improvement District arrangements (BID body), to the list of organisations that can submit an Expression of Interest to deliver local authority services through the Community Right to Challenge under s.81(6) of the Localism Act 2011. This will allow BID bodies to formally challenge local authorities to give them the opportunity to bid to run services in their area. (5 March 2015)

DCLG: Community guides: the DCLG has issued two guides for communities considering celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day:

(17 March 2015)

Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2015 (SI 2015/659): this Order, which comes into force on 6 April 2015, provides that where a drinking establishment has been entered onto a list of assets of community value under s.89 of the Localism Act 2011, or where the local planning authority have notified the developer that there is a nomination for listing in respect of that building, then certain specified development under of Sch.2 to the GDPO 1995, which grants certain permitted development rights for the change of use or demolition of buildings which are used as drinking establishments, is not permitted development for a specified period. (12 March 2015)

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

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Community Safety

Home Office: Reform of the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 – Summary of consultation responses and conclusions: sets out the Government's response to the June 2014 consultation that sought views on specific measures for reforming the approach to riot compensation payments. It details both the nature of the responses and the policy positions taken on the proposed changes. The Government has also published a draft Riot Compensation Bill which provides the legislative framework for these reforms. (12 March 2015)

Home Office: Prevent duty guidance: statutory guidance issued under s.29 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on authorities' duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. "Due regard" means that authorities should place an appropriate amount of weight on the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism when they consider all the other factors relevant to how they carry out their usual functions. This purpose of this guidance is to assist authorities to decide what this means in practice. (12 March 2015)

Home Office: Ending gang and youth violence programme – Annual report 2014/15: provides an overview of the significant progress made since 2011 when the Government set out its commitment and ambition to tackle gangs and youth violence. It highlights particular achievements which include: a new emphasis on early intervention; supporting local areas to identify who their most violent and vulnerable young people are; and recognising and taking action to respond to the dangers to girls and young women from gangs, including the significant risk of sexual exploitation. It also sets out the continuing challenges identified as a direct result of the Ending Gang and Youth Violence Frontline Team’s engagement with local areas. (12 March 2015)

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

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Delivery of Services

London Councils: Reforming public services: this briefing sets out a wide-ranging and ambitious set of proposals for devolution and public service reform to deal with the financial challenges of the next five years and to invest in the social and economic infrastructure that is vital to the capital’s continued growth and success. The proposals build on the success of London's growth Deal. (9 March 2015)

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: The cost of the cuts – The impact on local government and poorer communities: this research shows that the most deprived areas of England have seen the largest cuts in funding since 2010. It finds that local authorities have been able to protect front line services by finding new, innovative ways of working, but that capacity for further efficiency savings is fast running out. There is still scope for many councils to save money by redesigning the way services are run or working in partnership with bodies like the NHS, but the current pace of the cuts risks making this more difficult. Many local authorities will struggle to invest in and remodel services to lower costs in the medium term, while still meeting residents’ needs and balancing their budgets. (11 March 2015)

CentreForum: Open public services – Better public services?: this report presents case studies to show where privatised services and those in public ownership have succeeded and failed. It states that competition only works when there is a realistic prospect of providers losing their contract, and the most successful outsourcing deals are small in scope and thus easy to manage. The think tank finds that success across both public and private sectors can be attributed to common ways of doing things, including the use of appropriate information and performance measures. (12 March 2015)

DCLG: Bolder, braver and better –  Why we need local deals to save public services: Government response to the Service Transformation Challenge Panel report: the Panel's November 2014 report contained recommendations on changes to help public services deal with demographic changes, increasing expectations and the need to reduce the cost of public services. This response gives formal approval of the Panel’s recommendations, with a commitment to go further and faster in the coming years. It outlines steps that need to be taken to implement the recommendations in the report across central government departments and local places, extending the approach of the successful Troubled Families programme into other local services. (16 March 2015)

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

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Economic Development

ResPublica: Restoring Britain’s City States – Devolution, public service reform and local economic growth: this report sets out the shared ambition of the thinktank ResPublica and the Core Cities Group for the fullest possible devolution of public spending and tax raising powers to the UK’s largest cities and city regions. It argues for a rebalancing of the relationship between central government and cities, as the only real solution for addressing the interconnected challenges of local economic growth, public service reform and better governance. The report offers a roadmap for city based devolution, and eight recommendations to ensure that the current momentum in the devolution debate is not lost, demanding action which starts before the 2015 General Election. (9 February 2015)

Core Cities Group: A  Moderrn Charter for Local Freedom: 800 years on from Magna Carta, the Core Cities Group is calling on people to sign its Charter that sets out to redefine the relationship between Whitehall and local government and identifies the freedoms that are needed for places to reach their full potential. (9 February 2015)

DCLG: Draft European Regional Development Fund Operational Programme 2014 to 2020: DCLG has agreed the major points of principle about the ERDF operational programme with the European Commission. It is inviting applications for funding to invest in projects that support innovation and boost businesses across local economies in England.
It has also published Selection criteria and Eligibility rules for the 2014 to 2020 ERDF and European Social Fund, along with State aid requirements, guidance and publicity materials for organisations running projects funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds.
(20 March 2015)

DCLG: Coastal Community Teams – Bidding prospectus: invites local authorities and other partners to apply be become Coastal Community Teams. These teams will be provided with £10,000 of grant funding, via the local authority, to help them develop their economic plan. The funding is revenue funding and must be spent by the end of March 2016. (20 March 2015)

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

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DfE: Young people with SEND to benefit from £5 million work scheme: announes £5m funding for local authorities to help young people with special educational needs and disabilities to make the difficult transition from school to the professional world. Local authorities will use the money to create relationships with employers, establish employment services and help schools to offer high-quality preparation for employment. (12 March 2015)

Non-Maintained Special Schools (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/728): these regulations, which come into force on 1 September 2015, provide for the approval of non-maintained special schools by the Secretary of State, and set out the requirements which must be met for a school to continue to be approved as a non-maintained special school. They revoke and replace SI 2011/1627. (18 March 2015)

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

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HM Treasury: Budget 2015: the Chancellor has presented his Budget for 2015. Points of interest for local authorities:

  • The UK economy had the fastest annual growth among G7 economies in 2014, and the strongest annual growth since 2007. At the end of 2014, employment had reached its highest ever level, unemployment has been falling in every region across the UK, and inflation is at a record low. But risks still remain and there is still more to do to support businesses and boost productivity;
  • debt will be falling as a share of GDP in 2015-16: this is a year earlier than forecast at Autumn Statement. By 2014-15, the deficit is forecast to have fallen by half, from 10.2% at its peak in 2009-10, to 5% in 2014-15. In 2018-19, the Government will have a surplus of £5.2bn;
  • simplification of the tax system by abolishing the annual tax return and introducing digital tax accounts. Further details on the policy and administrative changes needed to deliver this will be published later in 2015;
  • review of business rates; plus consultation on business rate relief for local newspapers;
  • pilot schemes in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East, enabling these areas to retain 100% of any additional business rate growth beyond expected forecasts;
  • support for all regions across the UK: working with Transport for the North, the Government will look at rolling out better roads, quicker journeys and improved rail connections between the major cities of the north, as part of the plan to build a Northern powerhouse. The Government is also giving even more powers to local areas, with a new devolution deal for things like transport, business support and skills for West Yorkshire, and more planning powers for London;
  • announces the first 20 Housing Zones and 10 new or expanded Enterprise Zones across the country; plus a Cardiff City Deal;
  • negotiations on a Contract for Difference for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon to determine whether the project is affordable and value for money for consumers, and whether it will drive down costs for tidal lagoon energy in the UK;
  • compensation for small-scale feed in tariffs for energy intensive industries to be brought forward to the earliest point at which State Aid approval is received in 2015-16;
  • faster broadband and better mobile networks: the Government is investing up to £600m to deliver better mobile networks, and is announcing a new ambition that ultrafast broadband of at least 100 megabits per second should become available to nearly all UK premises in the country;
  • further investment in science and innovation: the Government is investing £140m in world class research on the infrastructure and cities of the future, and £40m in research into what is known as the Internet of Things;
  • an extra £1.25bn for mental health services for children and new mothers;
  • cancelling the fuel duty increase scheduled for September (yet again);
  • the amount of small donations on which charities can get an extra 25% top up payment in gift aid without needing any paperwork is increasing from £5,000 to £8,000 a year.

See also the LGA's On the Day briefing. (18 March 2015) 

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

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Fire and Rescue Authorities

Fire and Rescue Authorities (Performance Indicators) (Wales) Order 2015 (SI 2015/604 (W.49)): this Order, which comes into force in Wales on 1 April 2015, specifies a new set of statutory performance indicators for measuring the performance of Welsh fire and rescue authorities in exercising their functions. (10 March 2015)

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

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Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill: this Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is now in the four week period of intimation prior to being submitted for Royal Assent. The Bill provides for a set of long-term well-being goals for Wales: a prosperous; resilient; healthier; more equal Wales; with cohesive communities; and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. It places a duty on Welsh local authorities and other spcified public bodies to set out objectives that are designed to maximise its contribution to the achievement of the well-being goals. It also requires them to explain every year the progress they have made toward achieving their well-being objectives, which must contribute to the well-being goals for Wales. It will also require these bodies to state how they propose to govern themselves and ensure that resources are allocated annually to fulfil the duty. It reforms the approach to integrated community planning in Wales by putting Public Service Boards on a statutory basis. (17 March 2015)

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

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Health and Safety

DfE: The management of asbestos in schools – A review of Department for Education policy: sets out the key findings from the DfE review and the steps it will take to address any barriers to the safe and effective management of asbestos in schools. (12 March 2015)

West Sussex CC v Fuller [2015] EWCA Civ 189 (CA): F, an administrative assistant at the Council, claimed damages for injuries suffered at work, when she tripped up a staircase while delivering a large amount of bulky post round the Council's offices. F contended that the Council had breached its duties under reg.3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and reg.4 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 because it had failed to carry out a risk assessment. The judge agreed that this was "health and safety gone mad" but that he had no option but to find for F, as the Council was in breach of its statutory obligation to make a risk assessment of the task to be carried out by F in distributing post around the building, and to take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury to the lowest level reasonably practicable.
The court held, granting the Council's appeal, that liability for breach of reg.3 or reg.4 could not be established without proof of a causal link between the breach and the injury suffered. The burden of proof was on the claimant. Here, the Council was arguably in breach of duty in failing to carry out a risk assessment in relation to the task which it asked F to perform. But on the facts found by the judge, the accident which befell F did not fall within the ambit of the risk which the Council was arguably required to assess. F simply misjudged her footing when climbing a staircase whilst she happened to be carrying one or more items of post. Her accident was wholly causally unconnected with the circumstance that she was at the time carrying one or more items of post. The circumstance that F was carrying post could perhaps be described as the occasion for her injury, but it was not a cause of it. (12 March 2015)

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

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Health and Social Care

DH: No voice unheard, no right ignored – A consultation for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions: seeks views on prposals to strengthen rights of people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues to enable them to live independently. It explores options on issues such as how people can be supported to live independently, as part of a community, exercise control over the support they receive with a Personal Health Budget, and expect that different health and local services will organise themselves around their needs. It also seeks views on a number of issues relating to the Mental Health Act. The consultation closes on 29 May 2015. (6 March 2015)

NHS England: NHS England and local councils announce radical power shift as first 10,000 high-need services users gain control of their own integrated health and social care budgets: NHS England and the LGA have announced the eight sites in the first wave of the Integrated Personal Commissioning programme that will go live on 1 April 2015. Four groups of high need individuals – older people with long term conditions, children with disabilities and their families, people with learning disabilities, and people living with serious mental illness – will be able to take control of their budget to deliver an agreed care plan. As part of the programme, local voluntary organisations will help patients with personal care planning and advocacy. (9 March 2015)

Think Local Act Personal: Getting better outcomes for older people using personal budgets: this report collates the latest information about personal budgets for older people. Drawing on research from across the sector, including data from the Health & Social Care Information Centre and the National Personal Budget Surveys, it shows that older people do experience positive benefits from having a personal budget, although these are not as marked as for other groups. The report highlights what does and doesn't work well for older people using personal budgets, recommends what can be done to improve practice and includes case studies from councils across England that are working to improve personal budget delivery. (5 March 2015)

London Councils: Conquering the twin peaks – London’s Health and Wellbeing Boards: this April marks two years since HWBs were established on a statutory footing. In that time, HWBs have become an important part of the local health and care landscape in London. London Councils commissioned Shared Intelligence to carry out research into the position of HWBs in London, their experience to date and their ambitions for the future. The research found that the majority of London HWBs aspire to provide genuine systems leadership for health and care across the piece, and see themselves on a journey towards this. (11 March 2015)

Compact Voice: Practical guide to engaging with health and wellbeing boards: this guide for voluntary organisations provides practical steps to follow to develop relationships with Health and Wellbeing Boards. The briefing is part of a series aimed at supporting voluntary organisations to work better with local commissioning bodies. (13 March 2015)

R (Forge Care Homes Ltd) v Cardiff & Vale University Health Board [2015] EWHC 601 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the claimant Welsh nursing home operators applied for judicial review of the Funded Nursing Care (FNC) rate set by each of the Welsh Local Health Boards (LHBs) in 2014 for the following five years. They contended that the decisions to set the FNC rate were based on an erroneous approach to the nursing care costs that LHBs were required to bear under the relevant statutory scheme; and, in particular, an erroneously restrictive interpretation of the term "nursing care by a registered nurse " for which the scheme required the relevant LHB to pay. This resulted in a "funding gap", i.e. care costs which neither the LHB nor the relevant local authority would pay.
The court held, granting the application, that each of the 2014 LHB Decisions was unlawful and would be quashed. Section 49 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 defined the services which local authorities were prohibited from providing; and so the care services that must be provided by the relevant LHB. Section 49 required a line to be drawn, and that line was not subject to some general discretion in the relevant LHB. An LHB provided nursing services to a care home resident pursuant to s.3 of the NHS (Wales) Act 2006, which imposed a duty on the LHB to meet reasonably required nursing care needs. An LHB could only refuse to meet such needs if it came to a tenable judgment that it was not necessary to do so. Where the reasonable needs of residents were such that more than one registered nurse was required to satisfy them, the LHB could not properly conclude that it was not necessary to provide those additional services. The LHB would be liable to pay for the whole of those additional nurses' services where it was necessary to have more than one registered nurse working on site. If it was not necessary, then the LHB did not have to provide them under s.3 of the 2006 Act and they fall within the exception in s.49. In restricting the services which s.49 prohibited local authorities from providing to those individual tasks which, by virtue of her expertise and experience, only a registered nurse could perform, the approach of the FNC Review Group was therefore fundamentally flawed. (11 March 2015)

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

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DfT: Statutory guidance for highway authority permit schemes – permit scheme conditions: this statutory guidance sets out the conditions that may be attached to street works permit schemes by local authorities. It supports the development of new schemes from 1 July 2015 and existing schemes by 1 October 2015. (17 March 2015)

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

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See also Authority Update 20/3/15 Part 2.

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