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    Governance
   Asylum and Refugees    Health and Social Care
   Communities    Procurement
   Delivery of Services    Public Health
   Development Control    Rating
   Employment    Regulatory Services
   Environmental Protection    Shared Services
   Finance

  

Adult Social Services

ADASS: Spending Review 2015 – A representation from across the care and support sector: ADASS and three other organisations representing consumers, providers and commissioners of adult social care have called on the Government to make sure that the steady decline in resources available for older and disabled people is stopped. They state that the social care sector is in danger of a deepening crisis that is compromising the dignity, health and wellbeing of older and disabled people, their families and carers, the workforce and the economy. It is also threatening the sustainability both of the care market and of the NHS. (17 September 2015)

LGO: Councils should carry out regular reviews of care home residents’ assets: the LGO has reminded councils that they must carry out regular reviews of residents’ assets when assessing care home charges under deferred payments schemes. It has also stated that it is good practice, when undertaking those reassessments, for councils to signpost people to other organisations if they believe they may be able to claim additional benefits. This followed the LGO's investigation into a complaint that a council had failed to act in accordance with the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (CRAG) 2013 in that it had failed to tell the family that Mrs C might be entitled to Attendance Allowance when she was staying in residential care as a permanent resident, and had failed to deal correctly with Mrs C’s capital when determining her contribution towards the cost of residential care. As a result, Mrs C’s estate had been left with less capital than it should have been. (18 August 2015)

DCLG: Councils, bid now to support victims of domestic abuse: encourages local authorities to bid for a share of a new £3m fund for 2015 to 2016 that addresses short-term funding gaps in the provision of specialist domestic abuse support services. The closing date for bids is 1 October 2015. (18 September 2015)

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

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Asylum and Refugees

LGA: Refugees: the LGA has launched a one-stop resource for local authorities about taking in refugees. The web page includes regional contacts, where to direct residents offering housing and the LGA's media statements. (10 September 2015)

European Commission: Refugee crisis – European Commission takes decisive action: summarises the European Commission's comprehensive package of proposals designed to address all angles of the crisis, including the need for EU countries to quickly meet the most immediate needs of asylum seekers for housing, supplies and services. The package includes guidance on applicable EU procurement rules that gives an overview of the possibilities for contracting authorities to provide infrastructure (housing) as well as supplies and services of first necessity quickly. The Public Procurement Directives 2004/18 and the new Directive 2014/24 allow for accelerated procedures or, in cases of extreme urgency, a "negotiated procedure without publication". (9 September 2015)

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

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Children's Services

Cabinet Office: Delivering Differently for Young People – Programme prospectus and form: launches a new round of the Delivering Differently for Young People programme, with £0.2m funding to help up to five local authority areas rethink the way they provide services, and to support positive outcomes for young people. Successful applicants will be able to access bespoke technical, legal and consultancy support to identify and develop alternative models to provide youth services. The closing date for applications is 6 October 2015. (7 September 2015)

Together for Short Lives: Jointly commissioning palliative care for children and young people: this guide aims to support CCGs and local authorities in England to commission palliative care for children and young people aged 0–25 effectively. It also supports health and wellbeing boards to understand their role in the commissioning process. (10 September 2015)

Ofsted: Improvement support in local authority children’s services judged as requires improvement: guidance for social care inspectors carrying out improvement support in local authorities where children’s services have been judged as requiring improvement. It describes the main activities that inspectors undertake to provide improvement support to local authority children’s services. Local authorities can use the guidance to see how inspectors will provide this support. (14 September 2015)

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

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Communities

LGA: Tackling serious and organised crime – A local response: this guidance for leaders and members of community safety partnerships, health and wellbeing boards and local safeguarding boards outlines the important role of councils working with law enforcement partners to tackle serious and organised crime. It includes information about what serious and organised crime looks like, how it impacts local communities, suggested roles and responsibilities for councils, case studies of local approaches and recommended questions to ask and check local understanding of the prevalence and impact of serious and organised crime. (4 September 2015)

DCLG: Run your local with £1.5 million Pub Loan Fund: announces the launch of a new £1.5m fund to help local people take control of pubs at risk of closure. The new Pub Loan Fund will help community groups take over the running of their local, by providing small loans to start feasibility work, pay for lawyers’ fees or get materials for refurbishment. (11 September 2015)

Home Office: Revised Prevent duty guidance: updated guidance under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 on the duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism – the "Prevent duty". (18 September 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

NLGN / APSE: Park life, street life – Managing demand in the public realm: this research report argues that local authorities could save money by reducing demand on services such as litter-picking, by using behaviour change tools and techniques. The research finds that whilst such tools are used in other sectors, such as retail and online businesses, their use in a public sector context is limited – but adopting these approaches could help to generate real savings for hard-pressed council services. The report includes examples of how councils have been able to deliver cost savings and cleaner streets without resorting to enforcement action. The report is available from APSE (for a charge). (4 September 2015)

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

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Development Control

DCLG: Brandon Lewis launches expert panel to speed up development: announces a new group of experts to help streamline the local plan-making process. The panel will consider how the process can be simplified with the aim of slashing the amount of time it takes for local authorities to get them in place. (15 September 2015)

Welsh Government: Proposed changes to Planning Policy Wales Chapter 10 and Technical Advice Note 4: Retail Centre Development: seeks view on revisions to Chapter 10 PPW and TAN4 that set out the Welsh Government’s current national planning policies for retail development and retail centres. The review aims bring these policies into line with a Welsh Government objective to enhance the vitality, attractiveness and viability of established centres. The consultation closes on 26 November 2015. (3 September 2015)

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

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Economic Development

DCLG: The Growing Places Fund: investing in infrastructure - September 2015 update: information on the progress being made by the 39 LEPs in delivering the Growing Places Fund. The Fund is an unringfenced grant that supports key infrastructure projects designed to unlock wider economic growth, create jobs and build houses in England. It provides an opportunity for LEPs and local authorities to identify prioritise and deliver the infrastructure they need for growth. (4 September 2015)

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

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Employment

DBIS: Enterprise Bill – Public sector employment: Restrictions on exit payments –Factsheet: summarises the measures to be included in the Enterprise Bill that will place a limit on the value of exit payments that highly paid public sector employees can receive. 
The Enterprise Bill had its 1st Reading in the Lords on 16 September. The Government has produced a series of factsheets on its provisions. (17 September 2015)

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

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Environmental Protection

DfT: Clean Bus Technology Fund 2015: invites English local authorities to bid for a share of £5m funding to fit buses with green technology to reduce emissions in areas of poor air quality. There is guidance for local authorities on how to apply. The closing date for applications is 30 October 2015. (10 September 2015)

DEFRA: Air quality grant programme 2015 to 2016: invites local authorities to apply for a share of £0.5m under the 2015 to 2016 Air Quality Grant Scheme, to help them make air quality improvements and to meet their statutory duties under the Environment Act 1995. The closing date for applications is 22 October 2015. (10 September 2015)

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

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Finance

LGA: Spending smarter – A shared commitment: sets out a broad range of proposals for the Government to consider as part of the Spending Review, aimed at streamlining public services, growth generating investment, and social care and health while saving the public purse almost £2bn p.a. by the end of the Parliament. (1 September 2015)

IPPR: The Chancellor’s choices – How to make the Spending Review as progressive as possible while still delivering a surplus: this report shows how the Chancellor could make the forthcoming Spending Review as progressive as possible, while keeping his promises to reach a surplus by 2019/20 and to avoid rises in national insurance, income tax or VAT. Through detailed analysis of the figures, it shows that he could choose to protect social care, expand free childcare, protect education for 16–19-year-olds, support young people into work, and invest in housing, science, energy efficiency and the Northern Powerhouse, while still reaching a surplus in 2019/20. The report also demonstrates that the Chancellor could choose to avoid destructive 40% cuts to other public services, such as the police and the courts. (31 August 2015)

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

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Governance

CfPS: Devo why, devo how? Questions (and some answers) about governance under English devolution: set out some of the key governance issues which councils will have to address when considering what effective governance can offer when it comes to deciding why devolution is needed, and how those changes will be brought about. This thinkpiece starts to unpick the central challenge of devolution governance, and points the way towards productive and effective models of scrutiny for English combined authorities. (4 September 2015)

Welsh Government: Shared purpose: Shared future – Draft statutory guidance for the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015: seek views on draft statutory guidance for public bodies in fulfilling their duties under the 2015 Act. The Act gives a legally-binding common purpose – the well-being goals - for national and local government and for other specified public bodies, and details the principle by which the public sector should work together to deliver the long-term well-being of Wales. The guidance is in two parts: Core guidance, and technical guidance on the of the actions that public bodies, public services boards and community councils must follow in order to comply with the Act. The consultation closes on 16 November 2015. (7 September 2015)

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

LGA: Health and care quality systems in practice – A guide for local leaders: guidance to support health and care leaders in navigating the local agencies and organisations responsible for regulating and improving the quality of health and care services. It includes a checklist that summarises the responsibilities of different local groups and agencies, to help in the design of a local quality system. (4 September 2015)

National Palliative and End of Life Care Partnership: Ambitions for palliative and end of life care – A national framework for local action 2015-2020: the National Palliative and End of Life Care Partnership, made up of statutory bodies including NHS England, ADASS, charities and groups representing patients and professionals, has developed a framework for action in making palliative and end of life care a priority at local level. It builds on the DH’s 2008 Strategy for End of Life Care and responds to an increased emphasis on local decision making in the delivery of palliative and end of life care services since the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. (8 September 2015)

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

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Procurement

Cabinet Office: Public Procurement Regulations – Guidance on electronic procurement and electronic communication: this guidance explains the new rules on the use of electronic communications between authorities and suppliers, including electronic auctions (e-auctions) and electronic catalogues. These rules include timing and scope of e-communication requirements, accessibility, security, and exceptions to the mandatory use of e-communication. For the first time, some e-communication stages will be mandatory. (17 September 2015)

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

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Public Health

PHE: Identifying and responding to suicide clusters and contagion – A practice resource: guidance for people with responsibility for suicide prevention in local authorities and their partner agencies. It sets out the steps required at local level to prepare for a suicide cluster, alongside suggested responses to possible suicide clusters. It provides best practice on how to evaluate responses to a cluster, and on using the experience to improve further suicide prevention measures. (10 September 2015)

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

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Rating

DBIS: Enterprise Bill – Business rates: the Enterprise Bill has had its 1st Reading in the Lords. The Government has produced a series of factsheets on its provisions, including:

(17 September 2015)

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Regulatory Services

Enterprise Bill: this Bill has had its 1st Reading in the Lords. The Government has produced a series of factsheets on its provisions, including:

Better Regulation Delivery Office: Extending and simplifying Primary Authority –Keeping the UK competitive: the Government has reviewed the operation of the Primary Authority scheme and has identified improvements that would make it work more effectively. This discussion documents sets out proposals for the extension and simplification of Primary Authority. The majority of the proposed changes will be made through the Enterprise Bill, which is now before Parliament. This discussion document invites comments and evidence on how the proposals will impact on businesses and regulators. Feedback should be submitted by 22 October 2015. (17 September 2015) 

DBIS: Small Business Commissioner – Government response: sets out the Government's response to the consultation on proposals to create a Small Business Commissioner to act as a disincentive to unfavourable payment practices, and build the confidence and capabilities of small businesses to help them to assert themselves in contractual disputes and negotiate more effectively. The proposals will be implemented through the Enterprise Bill – see the factsheet. (17 September 2015) 

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

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Shared Services

Home Office / DCLG / DH: Enabling closer working between the emergency services: seeks views on proposals to increase joint working between emergency services, in order to improve effectiveness and deliver savings for the public. The proposals include: 

  • introducing a new statutory duty on all three emergency services to actively consider collaboration opportunities with one another to improve efficiency and effectiveness; 
  • enabling Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to take on the duties and responsibilities of fire and rescue authorities (FRAs), where a local case is made;
  • where a PCC takes on the responsibilities of an FRA, enabling him or her to create a single employer for police and fire staff, facilitating the sharing of back office functions and streamlining management;
  • in areas where a PCC has not become responsible for fire and rescue services, enabling them to have representation on their local FRA.

The consultation closes on 23 October 2015. (11 September 2015)

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

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