Authority Update 12/02/2016

Brief details of recent legislation, policy and other developments relevant to those involved in local government work.

15/02/2016

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:

  Adult Social Services

  Housing

  Amenity Protection

  Police

  Children's Services

  Ports and Harbours

  Combined Authorities

  Procurement

  Devolution

  Public Health

  Employment

  Rating

  Finance

  Regulatory Services

  Governance

  Social Enterprises

  Grants

  Standards

  Health and Safety

  Transport

  Health and Social Care

 

Adult Social Services

Ofsted: Social care compliance handbook: this updated handbook sets out the legal background to Ofsted’s social care compliance work and Ofsted’s powers. (5 February 2016)

LGA: Combating loneliness – A guide for local authorities: a recent systematic review found that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 30 per cent and a study from Brigham Young University, in Utah, USA, revealed loneliness can be more harmful to health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This guide sets out a range of actions for effectively combating loneliness building on the latest evidence. The guide focuses on older people but the recommendations will be beneficial to other age groups. (27 January 2016)

Welsh Government: Domiciliary care workforce: seeks views on ways to improve the quality of domiciliary care in Wales by having a positive impact on the recruitment and retention of domiciliary care workers. The consultation closes on 5 April 2016. (19 January 2016)

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

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Amenity Protection

Environment (Wales) Bill: this Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is awaiting Royal Assent. It introduce new measures to protect Wales’ historic environment. It gives Welsh local authorities new powers to take urgent action to stop unauthorised work to historic sites and to prevent historic buildings from falling into disrepair. It allows the development of a system of preservation notices and will give local authorities new ways to recover their costs when they have to take direct action. The Bill will also simplify some of the systems in place for the management of scheduled monuments and listed buildings by allowing owners to enter into voluntary heritage partnership agreements with consenting authorities. (9 February 2016)

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

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Children's Services

All Party Parliamentary Group for Children: Inquiry 2016 – Children's social care: call for evidence: the APPG for Children has launched a new inquiry into children's social care. The APPGC has issued a call for evidence from local authorities and children's sector stakeholders about the current state of arrangements for the provision of children's social care, including services for safeguarding children and for helping looked after children and children in need. The clsoing date for submissions is 7 March 2016. The findings will be published by early 2017. (4 February 2016)

Ofsted: Re-inspection of inadequate local authorities: seeks views on proposals for a more proportionate approach for local authorities to show that they are no longer delivering inadequate services to children. It considers: whether re-inspection should focus on weaknesses; the timing of the re-inspection; which aspects of the single inspection framework arrangements it could be more flexible about on a re-inspection; and how it should report its findings. The consultation closes on 8 March 2016. (9 February 2016)

Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/111): these regulations, which come into force on 29 February 2016, amend the Schedule to SI 2005/1109 by prescribing additional matters that must be dealt with by a local authority in their report to the court about prospective special guardians. (5 February 2016)

Childcare Act 2006 (Local Authority Assessment) (Wales) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/88 (W.42)): these regulations, which come into force on 1 April 2016, impose a duty on Welsh local authorities to carry out childcare sufficiency assessments. They revoke and replace SI 2013/2274 (W.22). (29 January 2016)

Regulation of Child Minding and Day Care (Wales) Order 2016 (SI 2016/98 (W.47)): this Order, which comes into force on 1 April 2016, amends s.19 of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 to extend the registration requirement to persons who act as a child minder or provide day care for children under the age of 12. It also makes consequential amendments. (27 January 2016)

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

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Combined Authorities

Draft Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Election of Mayor with Police and Crime Commissioner Functions) Order 2016: this Order provides for the introduction of a directly elected mayor for the area of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, whose functions will include functions previously exercised by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester. The order provides: that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority area is to have a directly elected mayor; for the date of first and subsequent elections to the role of mayor and the term of office; that the mayor is to exercise PCC functions; for the cancellation of future PCC ordinary elections in Greater Manchester; for extension of the current PCC’s term of office to cover the intervening period and to prevent any PCC by-election in Greater Manchester within six months of the date that the elected mayor will take office. (1 February 2016)

Institute for Government: Making devolution deals work: this guide aims to help turn the Chancellor’s devolution promises into reality. It outlines the potential opportunities created through effective devolution, including boosting economic growth, increasing innovation and improving local public services. However, it cautions that the timeline for devolution has been extremely compressed, and many are unclear about the future. The report also says the Chancellor needs to remain involved to ensure Whitehall departments actually pass real powers down to local areas. (27 January 2016)

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

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Devolution

HC Communities and Local Government Committee: Devolution – The next five years and beyond: this report examines the Cities and Local Devolution Bill and considers whether the Greater Manchester deal, and its health devolution agreement, is a model for other areas. The inquiry's scope was widened to look and review the way in which devolution in England is moving ahead in other places such as Tees Valley, Liverpool, Leeds and Cornwall. The Committee welcomes the Government's commitment to devolution but urges Government and local leaders to do more to engage the public in devolution proposals, negotiations and outcomes. It believes that, by the end of this Parliament, the Government and local authorities should move to a position of 'devolution by right' with the Government announcing a package of powers on offer to local government. This could be the dawn of more ambitious and wide-ranging future deals and a more comprehensive package of devolved measures agreed between Government and local government as a whole. (3 February 2016)

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

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Employment

HM Treasury: Guidance note – Public sector pay and terms: this guidance note is a reminder of the rules that are in place and the Government's expectations on public sector employers. It stresses that every part of the public sector must demonstrate that it is using public money efficiently and responsibly. (5 February 2016)

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

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Finance

DCLG: Final local government finance settlement 2016 to 2017: the Communities Secretary Greg Clark has announced the Government's response to the consultation on the Local Government Finance Settlement. In particular:

  • councils with the sharpest grant reductions will receive £150m a year in transitional funding for each of the first 2 years of the settlement, easing the pace of funding reductions – in line with recommendations from the County Councils Network and the Local Government Association;
  • in recognition of the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas, the Rural Services Delivery Grant will increase from £15.5m this year to £80.5m next year. This is in addition to the transition grant and, taken together makes available an extra £93.2m to rural councils in 2016 to 2017, and means that there is no increase in the gap in government funding per head between urban and rural areas;
  • the Government will conduct a review of what the needs assessment formula should be in a world in which all local government spending is funded by local resources not central grant.

There is also an Explanatory note on core spending power, which sets out the methodology used to calculate core spending power (the measure of the core revenue funding available for local authority services, including Council Tax and locally retained business rates) with supporting tables.
The documents are all on the DCLG website. (8 February 2016)

Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/102 (W.50)): these regulations, which come into force on 31 March 2016, amend SI 2003/3239 (W.319) that sets out the legal framework within which local government may undertake capital expenditure in Wales. They remove the requirement for local authorities to recognise in a revenue account the difference between fair value and the agreed value of loans acquired by the Welsh local authorities with housing stock from the Public Works Loan Board. (3 February 2016)

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

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Governance

DCLG: Rotherham intervention – Return of certain functions: the Secretary of State has issued Directions returning certain functions to Rotherham MBC to exercise. A Lead Commissioner, Children’s Social Care Commissioner and two supporting commissioners will remain in place. The Directions list the functions retained by the Commissioners. They also retain all executive functions and a number of other non-executive functions, including appointment and dismissal of staff, delegation of functions under s.101 LGA 1972 and appointment to outside bodies. The explanatory memorandum sets out the circumstances in which these Directions have been made, the reasons for exercising these powers and the implications of the Directions for the Authority. (11 February 2016)

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

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Grants

Cabinet Office: Government announces new clause to be inserted into grant agreements: announces that a new clause is to be inserted into all new and renewed grant agreements which will make sure that taxpayer funds are spent on improving people’s lives and good causes, rather than lobbying for new regulation or using taxpayers’ money to lobby for more government funding. There is also Implementation Guidance for Departments on Anti-Lobbying Clause. (6 February 2016)

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

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Health and Social Care

Forge Care Homes Ltd v Cardiff & Vale University Health Board  [2016] EWCA Civ 26 (CA): seven Welsh Local Health Boards (LHBs) appealed against the court's decision to quash the Funded Nursing Care (FNC) rate set by each of the LHBs in 2014 for the following five years. The case concerned the interpretation of s.49 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 and in particular, the term "nursing care by a registered nurse " for which the FNC scheme required the relevant LHB to pay. The court held that 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 fundamentally flawed.
The court held, allowing the appeal, that the language of the excepting words at the end of s.49(2) required a distinction to be drawn between different services provided by a nurse or nurses at a care home. The provision plainly contemplated that some services needed to be provided by a registered nurse and some did not. The nature of the services invited attention to the contrast between clinical or medical tasks which by their nature needed to be provided by a nurse, and social or personal tasks which did not; the circumstances in which the services were provided invited attention to the fact that circumstances might dictate whether a particular task needed or did not need to be provided by a nurse. The judge had not recognised this distinction between different services. The judge's conclusion rested upon a non sequitur: it did not follow from the fact that a nurse needed to be on call at all times that everything she did on duty was to be treated as a service which "need[s] to be provided by a registered nurse". Indeed the statutory language expressly required the contrary. It was a matter of fact whether this or that task performed by the nurse did or did not "need to be provided by a registered nurse". The excepting words did no more than invite attention to a factual question: did this nurse's activities in the care home need to be provided by a registered nurse? (2 February 2016)    

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

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Health and Safety

Sentencing Council: Health and safety offences, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences – Definitive guideline: these definitive sentencing guidelines for use in courts in England and Wales have come into effect. For health and safety offences, the fines for organisations range from £50 fine – £10m fine, while for corporate manslaughter, the range is £180,000 – £20m fine. Very large organisations with a turnover that very greatly exceeds £50m face an unlimited fine for the most serious breaches. (1 February 2016)

Kennedy v Cordia (Services) LLP (Scotland) [2016] UKSC 6 (Sup Ct): K, a home carer, brought proceedings against her employer CS, claiming damages for injuries suffered when she slipped on an icy path while making a home visit. She claimed that CS had breached reg.3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 by failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and had breached reg.4(1) of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 by failing to provide her with personal protective equipment (PPE). CS had carried out a risk assessment in relation to home care services and client care that covered risks involved in “travelling to and from work locations”. K had undergone an induction programme that included a discussion of slips and falls on ice in winter, and the importance of wearing appropriate footwear and had been given a hazard awareness booklet whichs stated that extra care should be taken when walking to and from work locations in inclement weather, and that staff should ensure that safe adequate footwear was worn. The Extra Division dismissed her claim.
The supreme Court held, allowing K's appeal, that CS had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. Such an assessment would have involved specific consideration of the possibility of individual protective measures to reduce the risk of home carers slipping and falling on snow and ice. Had that possibility been considered, a number of devices were available which would have been suitable to reduce the risk. Since none was provided, it followed that there was a breach of reg.4(1) of the PPE Regulations. Regarding liability at common law, K was not in the same position as an ordinary member of the public going about her own affairs as she was obliged to act in accordance with the instructions given to her by her employers, who were obliged under statute to consider the risks to her safety while she was at work and the means by which those risks might be reduced. In those circumstances, to base one’s view of the common law on the premise that K was in all relevant respects in the same position as an ordinary member of the public was a mistake. Here, CS were aware of a history of accidents each year due to their home carers slipping on snow and ice, and they were aware that the consequences of such accidents were potentially serious. Quite apart from the duty to carry out a risk assessment, those circumstances were themselves sufficient to lead an employer taking reasonable care for the safety of its employees to inquire into possible means of reducing that risk. Had such inquiries been made, or a proper risk assessment carried out, the implication of the evidence was that CS would have learned that attachments were available, at a modest cost, which had been found to be effective in reducing the risk, and had been provided by a number of other employers to employees in a similar position. In those circumstances, CS were negligent in failing to provide K with such attachments. Their Lordships also gave guidance on the use of expert evidence in civil claims and the role of the expert witness. (10 February 2016)    

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

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Housing

HC Communities & Local Government Committee: Housing associations and the Right to Buy: this report scrutinises Government proposals to extend the Right of Buy to housing association tenants under the Housing and Planning Bill that is currently before Parliament.  It expresses concerns over plans to fund the Right to Buy discounts for housing association tenants with the proceeds from the sale of high value council homes. The Committee believes that public policy should usually be funded by central Government, rather than through a levy on local authorities. The Committee also finds the robustness of the funding model for the RTB discounts is extremely questionable, and calls on the Government to set out the fully-costed evidence for the proposals. It is concerned that the Government’s policies could have a detrimental effect on the provision of accessible and affordable housing across all tenures, particularly affordable rented, and that the extended Right to Buy could hinder the provision of specialist and supported housing schemes. (10 February 2016)

R (Edwards) v Birmingham City Council [2016] EWHC 173 (Admin) (Admin Ct): four claimants applied to the Council for housing as a homeless person. They each claimed that the manner in which the Council dealt with their application under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 was unlawful and that that manner reflected systemic failings. They said that the Council, advertently or inadvertently, discouraged and diverted applications so that individuals were denied their statutory rights to have their situation properly inquired into and be given interim accommodation whilst those inquiries were being made. 
The court held, dismissing the claims, that the individual errors in the claims fell very far short of proving any kind of systemic failure on the part of the Council. No relief in the form of a general declaration or mandatory order was appropriate. The cases fell very far short of persuading the judge that such relief might possibly be appropriate. The individual claims each failed, either because the claimant had failed to prove any breach of statutory duty, or alternatively because any breach that might be shown was minor and did not warrant any relief. (8 February 2016)
See our alert Homelessness in the High Court: Gatekeepers no more for a discussion of what this case means for housing authorities.

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

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Police 

Policing and Crime Bill: this Bill has been introduced into Parliament and received its 1st Reading. Part 1 places a duty on police, fire and rescue and ambulance services to collaborate, and enables PCCs to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services. It gives effect to the reforms set out in the recent consultation on improving joint working between the emergency services and enhance local accountability.The Bill also reforms the police complaints and disciplinary systems, provides for a new system of "super-complaints" and confers new protections on police whistle-blowers. It also further strengthens the independence of HMIC and ensures that it is able to deliver end-to-end inspections of the police, including by inspecting contractors and third parties who carry out policing functions.
 For a summary of the Bill's provisions, see the Home Office's fact sheets, including one on Emergency services collaboration. (10 February 2016)

Home Office: Police and Crime Commissioners are here to stay: the Home Secretary Theresa May has given a speech in which she spelled out the achievements of “the pioneering first generation” of Police and Crime Commissioners and discussed how the role could develop in the future. (4 February 2016)

Draft Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Amendment) Order 2016: this draft Order, once in force, changes the rules for the administration and conduct of elections of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). It amends the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections Order 2012 (SI 2012/1917) and the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (Functions of Returning Officers) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/1918) to provide for combination of police and crime commissioner elections with elections for the National Assembly for Wales. (4 February 2016)

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

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Ports and Harbours

DfT: Consultation on guidance on Harbour Closure Orders and Pilotage Function Removal Orders for English harbours and Welsh non-fishery harbours – Summary of responses: sets out the Government's response to the August 2015 consultation on draft guidance on how two new processes will be implemented at harbours in England and non-fishery harbours in Wales. (4 February 2016)

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

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Procurement

Cabinet Office: Government Response to the consultations on UK Transposition of new EU Procurement Directives: sets out the Government's response to the August 2015 consultation on UK transposition of the new Concession Contracts Directive 2014/23. It also covers the new Utilities Directive 2014/25. It states that the consultations have confirmed that the draft regulations implement the Directives effectively and do so in the best way, subject to the results described in this document. The Government now intends to implement the new Utilities Contracts Regulations and Concession Contracts Regulations by 18 April 2016 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 3 February 2016)

Bevan Brittan's Commissioning Bytes: the new Public Contracts Regulations 2015 replace the old Part B services approach to health and social care contracts with a more formal set of obligations called the 'Light Regime'. We have produced a series of Commissioning Bytes that highlight some practical steps towards being light regime ready. The first four published cover:

  • Commissioning Bytes (Introduction): The new public contract regulations are coming to the health sector - How to design a compliant light regime process;
  • Commissioning Byte 1: What steps can you take now with your existing contracts to renew or extend them before the April deadline?
  • Commissioning Byte 2: How do you comply simultaneously with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and the regime enforced by Monitor under the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) Regulations 2013 (No.2)?
  • Commissioning Byte 3: How flexible can your procedure be? How do you give best emphasis to your desired patient outcomes?

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

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Public Health

LGA: Public health transformation three years on – Extending influence to promote health and wellbeing: this compilation of case studies shows how local authorities continue to make progress on improving health and wellbeing and tackling health inequalities since public health was formally transferred from the NHS in April 2013. The case studies were chosen because they show a range of ways in which councils are approaching their new public health role. They provide lessons and key messages, a description of the main ways they are working in partnership to add value, and plans for the future. (3 February 2016)

DH: Public health grants to local authorities 2016 to 2017: sets out the allocations to local authorities for public health spending and the conditions for using the money. In the financial year ending 2017 local authorities will receive £3.49bn public health grant for their public health duties. This includes public health responsibilities for children aged 0 to 5, which transferred to local authorities in October 2015. (11 February 2016)

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

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Rating

CBI: A vision for a simpler, fairer, more competitive business rates system – Policy briefing no.4: sets out the CBI’s immediate recommendations for how the Government can create a simpler, fairer and more competitive business rates system. It welcomes the Government’s commitment to set out a business tax roadmap at budget 2016. It states that it is critical that the Government uses the roadmap to tackle the burden of the business rates system, which continues to rise disproportionately and comes on top of recent additional policy costs on business. Business rates have become a barrier to entrepreneurship, investment and productivity growth for businesses of all sizes, particularly property-based firms, and need urgent reform. (5 February 2016)

South Kesteven District Council v Digital Pipeline Ltd [2016] EWHC 101 (Admin) (Admin Ct): the Council appealed against a deputy district judge's refusal to make liability orders for non-domestic rates in respect of warehouse premises that had been leased to DL, a charity. DL occasionally carried out public "Appeal Days" at the premises, when it used approximately 42% of the available space in the premises. It contended that it was not liable for rates on the periods between Appeal Days, under s.45A(2) LGFA 1988, which provides that there is no liability at all for rates for an unoccupied hereditament where the ratepayer is a charity and when next in use the hereditament will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. The judge held that, on the Appeal Days, the hereditament was mainly used for charitable purposes so, under s.43(6), DL was liable for only 20% of the rates for those days. This finding meant that, under s.45A, DL did not have to pay any rates for the periods between the Appeal Days. The council appealed, arguing that the judge was not entitled to find that on the Appeal Days the hereditament was wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes but was obliged to find that it was not used for such purposes, with the consequence that full rates were payable throughout.
The court held, allowing the appeal, that it was not perverse for the judge to make a finding that the premises were wholly or mainly used for the charitable purpose where only 42% of the floor space in use nor was there a presumption to that effect which could only be rebutted by compelling evidence. The "wholly or mainly" question should not turn on the arbitrary decision on how the premises were arranged for presentational purposes provided it could fairly be said that there was a clearly demarcated area in which the services are being provided, even if they were not all actually in use. However, the judge was not entitled to take into account as a factor, when assessing whether the premises were wholly or mainly used for a charitable purpose, the fact that the premises were not being used for any other purpose. To that extent, his decision was flawed. If, having regard to the nature and extent of the use, the conclusion was that the premises could not properly be said to be wholly or mainly used by the charity, this conclusion could not change simply because the rest of the premises were empty. It was not self-evident on the facts whether a judge would find that the premises were used wholly or mainly for a charitable purpose or not. The court could not be sure that the decision would necessarily have been the same even if this factor had been ignored. The decision would be quashed and the matter would be remitted to the judge. (27 January 2016)

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

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Regulatory Services

DBIS: Devolving Sunday trading rules: sets out the Government's response to the August 2015 consultation on Sunday trading. The Government intends to devolve Sunday trading powers to unitary and district councils in England, county and county borough councils in Wales, the Mayor of London and also to mayors established through any future devolution deals, giving them the choice to extend Sunday trading hours to meet the needs of their local businesses and communities. The Government will also strengthen the rights of shop workers to opt-out of working Sundays. These measures will be in through amendments to the Enterprise Bill that is currently before Parliament. (9 February 2016)
See also DBIS's Enterprise Bill factsheet Devolving powers to extend Sunday trading hours.

Environment (Wales) Bill: this Bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is in the four week period of intimation prior to Royal Assent. The Bill puts in place legislation that will enable Wales’ resources to be managed in a more proactive, sustainable and joined-up manner and to establish the legislative framework necessary to tackle climate change. It includes provisions to improve the use of resources in relation to carrier bags and waste management, providing the Welsh Ministers with powers to take action to achieve higher levels of recycling for business waste, food waste treatment and energy recovery. The Bill also clarifies the law for a number of existing environmental regulatory regimes including marine licensing, shellfisheries management, land drainage and flood risk management. (2 February 2016)

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

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Social Enterprises

Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies: CIC business activities: forms and step-by-step guidelines: updated guidance on setting up a Community Interest Company (CIC). It includes links to the appropriate forms, model constitutions (including the memorandum of association and articles of association) and model special resolutions. (5 February 2016)

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

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Standards

Committee on Standards: Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules inquiry: the Commons Committee on Standards has launched an inquiry into the Code of Conduct for MPs and Guide to the Rules to run alongside the Parliamentary Commissioner’s current review.  The review process will include a first consultation on the fundamental purpose of the Code and the audience to which it is directed, then a second consultation on detailed changes to the rules, after which the Commissioner will make her recommendations to the Committee on Standards, which will consult on those changes before reporting to the House for its decision on a refreshed and updated Code and Rules.
To inform the inquiry, the Committee has published a briefing note on Codes of Conduct and rules systems in other jurisdictions that reviews the scope and content of Codes of Conduct for other legislatures in the UK and a small selection of overseas legislatures. The note includes a description of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Seven Principles of Public Life, which also form the basis of the local authority Members' Code of Conduct. (8 February 2016)

Local Government (Standards Committees, Investigations, Dispensations and Referral) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/85 (W.39)): these regulations, which come into force in Wales on 1 April 2016, amend the Welsh Standards Committees Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2283 (W.172)), the Functions of Monitoring Officers and Standards Committees Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2281 (W.171)) and the Dispensations Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2279 (W.169)) to implement changes in operation of the system governing member conduct with the aim of improving local democracy. In particular, they facilitate the operation of joint standards committees. (2 February 2016)

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

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Transport

DfT: New Buses Bill to deliver a better deal for the public: announces that the Government intends to bring in a Buses Bill that will give councils more freedom to run their own bus services. Local authorities will be given new powers to enter into stronger partnerships with bus companies, and agree minimum standards for services, improving reliability and punctuality. The new partnerships will also be given the power to set standards for local buses and introduce standard ticketing rules over wider areas, paving the way for Oyster-style schemes. The Government will also honour its devolution deal commitment to provide local authorities with bus franchising powers. The Bill will be introduced into Parliament later this year. (11 February 2016)

 

Welsh Government: Setting the direction for Wales and Borders rail: seeks views on the future of rail services in the Wales and Borders area. From early 2017, it is expected the Welsh Government will become a franchising authority with responsibility for awarding the next Wales and Borders franchise, likely to start in October 2018. Its vision is to see a not for dividend model with a strong connection with the communities it serves. The consultation closes on 18 March 2016. (22 January 2016)

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

 

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