31/05/2019

LA Spotlight

GDPR and DPA celebrate their first birthday
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) both celebrated their respective birthdays on 25 May this year. During their first year of existence we have been assisting various local government bodies to ensure strong information governance compliance. The legislation is intrinsic to the delivery of public services and is pervasive in the sense that it cuts across most functions and responsibilities of local government, be that compliance and information security in general; the provision of social care and related services; employment issues; access to information regimes including the FOIA, EIR and LGA; delivery of regulatory services; enforcement activity; wider collaboration across the public sector; or in relation to the democratic process (to name but a few areas), good information governance is part of the tapestry of local government and is critical to effective operation and the successful delivery of services.

Eagle-eyed readers will note that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has yet to make full use of their new powers of enforcement and the levying of what could be quite significant fines. However word on the street is that the first tranche is imminent.

Regardless of whether Brexit happens or not, there will be a requirement to comply with the GDPR for the foreseeable future. Even if the UK does leave the EU, it must have in place provisions equivalent to the GDPR in order to continue business and regulatory activity with the rest of the EU. In other words the GDPR is not going anywhere soon.

We know what good information governance looks like and can assist you in ensuring compliance across all local government services – there is no better time to undertake a health check before the ICO’s enforcement regime gets into full swing.

 

 

Commercialisation

Alternative service delivery models

During May we received a consolidation of the broad plethora of alternative service delivery models (ADSMs) set out in a House of Commons briefing paper. The current economic climate continues to challenge the already stretched sector and so the use of ADSMs and the broader Commercialisation narrative plays a prominent role in innovation in service delivery.

The briefing paper looks at ways of classifying Commercialisation into four categories together with the models for implementing such change:

  • Making money – doing something that generates profits that can then be deployed for councillors’ priorities
    Whilst this is one of the more outwardly ‘commercial’ categories given that it usually entails the establishment of some form of trading or corporate entity, is not mutually exclusive with other forms

  • Behaving in a more business-like way – adopting some of the positive culture and behaviours that are sometimes associated with commercial organisations
    Seemingly a challenging proposition, which in practice can enact transformation within operating structures – how can the experience and expertise of private practice be brought across to enrich the operation of a local authority?

  • Commissioning councils – creating a separation between service commissioners who are super-intelligent ‘buyers’ of what’s needed, and super-efficient providers, who may also compete for others’ business 
    Separating commissioning and provider functions is just the start for building an intelligent commissioning function that can drive organisational change

  • Being business friendly – to promote local economic growth and prosperity
    This requires closer joint working with private sector partners as well as the wider public sector economy.

A key starting point for this process is a strategic service review and a well-defined options appraisal. This will have a close interface with the Council’s key priorities and vision, as well as the service specific commercial and financial challenges. As the briefing paper outlines the service models available are broad and several in number:

  • corporate models (trading companies, Teckal companies and many different permutations). These models open up the possibility of managing service demand as well as generating income and profit returns. Those authorities taking a step further in profit generation will need to consider vires, state aid and tax implications

  • public sector collaboration – This is not just restricted to traditional shared service models for legal services or trading services but includes complex multi-agency arrangements (through Regional Adoption Agencies being just one example), and joint working with health, police and other blue light services to streamline service user experiences. Key challenges in wider public sector collaboration remain in building community resilience and the ‘prevention agenda’

  • organisational change – how can services be commissioned and delivered more efficiently? What lessons can be learned from other public sector commissioning, contracting through payment by results being just one example.

One of the challenges in partaking in the Commercialisation agenda is the level of senior level experience required in embarking on such an enterprise – this requires cross working within the broader transformation agenda and is not just restricted to operational service expertise. So what are the costs for implementation – are there indeed ‘untapped’ revenue streams to raise sustainable investment such as investment-based crowdfunding or are the traditional methods of real estate investment attractive options?

A substantive part of our local government practice focusses on supporting local authorities who are leading on the development of ADSMs across a range of sectors from housing delivery vehicles and children’s services trusts to the establishment of employee led mutuals for cultural services. The key to implementation is not just the understanding of the statutory powers and democratic processes, it’s the negotiation of a commercial arrangement which ensures best value for money and maximizes the potential for future innovation.

 

News

Local government: alternative models of service delivery
UK Parliament | 17 May 2019
This briefing paper explains new forms of service delivery being implemented by local authorities, including shared services, outsourcing, 'insourcing', local authority trading companies and mutuals.

Councils ‘unprepared’ for 5G roll out
LocalGov | 14 May 2019
Mobile network operators have urged local authorities to do more to support the roll out of 5G as report finds fewer than a third of local plans make reference to mobile connectivity.

Councils raise £242m from parking permit applications
LocalGov | 10 May 2019
Local authorities have raised hundreds of millions of pounds over the last three years thanks to applications for parking permits, according to a new study. The research, published by Churchill Car Insurance, also revealed that in 2017, roads with permits generated £87.6m in revenue – a 13% increase on the previous year. However, this figure dropped last year to £77.2m.

Public Service Provision in the 21st Century: A New Look at Commercialism
CIPFA | 7 May 2019
Milan Palmer, policy officer at CIPFA, takes a look at the future of commercialism in local authorities. Local authorities have been under pressure for a long time and the statistics do not paint a pretty picture. According to the Local Government Association, between 2010 and 2020, local authorities will have had their core funding reduction of nearly £16bn, a loss of 60p in every £1. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows expenditure on commercial trading services rose from £323m in 2014/15 to £2.9bn in 2017/18 with the government report stating “a large part of this increase is a result of a rise in expenditure on acquisition of land and existing buildings”. At the same time, local authority treasury management should be focused on the security of public funds which can be achieved by following the Prudential and Treasury Management code produced by CIPFA.

UK Parliament | 1 May 2019
Funding of local authorities' children's services
Constricted funding and ever increasing demand have left children’s services in England at breaking point, a report published by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found. Ahead of the 2019 Spending Review, the report calls for a funding settlement that reflects the challenges local authorities face in delivering children’s social care, and recommends a minimum increase to core grant funding of £3.1bn up until 2025.

Investment-based crowdfunding has ‘untapped potential’ for councils, study says
LocalGov | 1 May 2019
Crowdfunding has ‘huge, untapped potential’ for public sector infrastructure finance, a new study has concluded. The University of Leeds study, entitled ‘Financing for Society’, has found that investment-based crowdfunding can offer substantial benefits for public sector bodies seeking capital for infrastructure finance.

It argues that finance can be accessed at a comparable rate to loans from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB), and be efficiently raised and drawn down utilising a new Community Municipal Bond Structure.

State pension model could fund social care, says Damian Green
PublicFinance | 29 April 2019
Social care could be funded by a state pension-style model, taking financial burden away from local authorities, according to the former work and pensions secretary Damian Green. The former Conservative cabinet minister, suggested “the best model for social care” was flat-rate, nationally funded ‘universal care entitlement’, in a report released by the Centre for Policy Studies today.

Council invests £35m in shopping centre
LocalGov | 29 April 2019
Medway Council has spent nearly £35m on a new shopping centre as part of a wider regeneration programme. The Council took over the lease of the Pentagon Shopping Centre in Chatham town centre for £34.8m on Friday. The acquisition is anticipated to provide the local authority with the opportunity to generate an annual income of £1m, which will go towards services for local residents.

Legal Services Lincolnshire looks to set up alternative business structure to keep hold of legal work
Local Government Lawyer | 26 April 2019
Legal Services Lincolnshire (LSL) has put forward proposals to set up an alternative business structure to ensure it can continue to provide legal advice to its partner councils when they deliver services through new structures such as companies without risk of it acting contrary to the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A paper prepared by Lincolnshire County Council's Chief Legal Officer, David Coleman, says an ABS would also allow LSL to provide services more widely in the future “as opportunity arises and capacity allows”.

County and district "well advanced" in proposals for shared law and governance service
Local Government Lawyer | 17 April 2019
Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council have agreed to extend the arrangement under which they share a chief executive and some services, with proposals for a shared law and governance service expected to come forward this month. The two began their partnership last year and said it would yield savings of £620,000 in 2019-20.They are also exploring joint working in corporate services, policy and communications, human resources, finance, housing, regulatory services and family safeguarding.

Adult social care is ‘in crisis’, study reveals
LocalGov | 17 April 2019
The current system of adult social care is at 'breaking point', local government leaders have warned. Responding to a study by the King’s Fund saying the system is in crisis, Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said people were living longer, costs were increasing and yet funding was being cut. The study found a 2% rise in new requests for adult social care since 2015-16 but at the same time the number of people being helped had fallen by nearly 13,000. It found local council spending on social care had dropped in real terms and is now £700m below what it was in 2010-11.

Oxfordshire councils explore ‘breaking new ground’ in ambitious joint working partnership
Public Sector Executive | 16 April 2019
Two Oxfordshire councils reaping the benefits of a “ground breaking” joint working partnership which includes sharing staff and services are proposing to expand the partnership to a host of other services.

Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council currently share a large section of their senior leadership teams, driving senior management costs down through joint-working whilst also retaining capacity in the county.

Details delay social care green paper
Public Finance | 15 April 2019
Delays to the social care green paper are a result of the need for “greater consideration” of proposals, PF has heard. Sector leaders have warned the pressure on social care in England “does not abate” after the government missed a fifth consecutive deadline for the green paper’s publication.  While Brexit has played a part in delaying the document, issues with the early proposals put to sector leaders have also contributed to the slow progress.

Council buys office to generate income
LocalGov | 15 April 2019
South Cambridgeshire District Council has made a £13m investment in a high-quality office building to generate an initial net return of around 5.6%.Lead cabinet member for finance, Cllr John Williams, said: "This investment will give us a good return, which we will re-invest into frontline services for many years."

Anger at cap on ‘exit payments’
Public Finance | 11 April 2019
Treasury plans to cap public sector exit payments have sparked anger from unions.

Payoffs to some local government staff, civil servants, police and NHS workers leaving their roles – including those for redundancy – would be capped at £95,000 under the proposals.

The FDA union and the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers have both expressed concern about the plans.

Nearly two thirds of councils cut mental health services for children
LocalGov | 10 April 2019
Around 60% of local authority areas have seen a real-terms fall in spending on low-level mental health services for children, a new report has revealed. ‘Low-level’ mental health services are early interventions for treating problems like depression or eating disorders. They are provided, for example, by drop-in centres or online counselling services. A new study by the Children’s Commissioner for England has revealed that local areas – including councils and NHS spending – allocated a total of £226m for low-level mental health services in 2018/19.

 

Cases

Hackney defeats High Court challenge to approach on SEN funding and Education and Health Care Plans
Local Government Lawyer | 12 April 2019
A High Court judge has rejected claims that Hackney Council’s policies on Special Educational Needs and Disability, including a reduction in its expenditure on SEND, were unlawful.

Irwin Mitchell, the law firm for the four families that brought the case, said they had lodged an application for permission to appeal and were awaiting a decision.

In R (AD & Ors) v London Borough of Hackney [2019] EWHC 943 (Admin) Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed challenges to Hackney’s use of five bands for funding provision for children in mainstream schools with Education, Health Care (EHC) plans, and the authority’s decision in 2018 to reduce the funding allocated to each of these bands by 5%.

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Place & Growth

Joint Ventures are key to successful housing regeneration - Spotlight on the Midlands
There are a number of new solutions emerging to help meet the country’s affordable homes demand, with one key approach being the re-engagement of local authorities and the strategic partnerships they are forming.  In the West Midlands, despite a recent rise in affordable homes completions, ambitious housing associations have been held back. Funding difficulties, a lack of joined-up planning, the high price of available land and sometimes a lack of vision in the wider sector have all combined to subdue the market. But following the “Housing Deal” agreed with the Government a year ago, plans are being accelerated to create 215,000 new homes in the region by 2031.

The West Midlands Combined Authority has recently published the Spatial Investment and Delivery Plan – the blueprint that maps out how and where new investments can be made to deliver housing, regeneration and jobs. For the social housing sector, this is a window of opportunity that provides housing associations, local authorities and the private sector greater confidence around investment and delivery. There is also the Prime Minister’s added promise to registered providers of £2bn for ‘long term’ construction over the next 10 years. Partnerships and joint ventures have proved to be successful models in delivering both land and capital to create exciting new communities. As more land, development sites and ‘growth corridors’ become available in the West Midlands, there will be further opportunities for local authorities and housing associations to align efforts to regenerate neighbourhoods, provide affordable housing and supported housing for vulnerable groups.

 

Publications & Guidance

Malthouse launches £8.5 million fund to help communities deliver discounted homes
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 11 May 2019
A multi-million-pound support package to deliver thousands of discounted homes was launched by Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP. Volunteer groups will be able to apply from Monday for between £10,000 and £50,000 to help identify suitable sites for discounted homes, get planning permission for them and to provide other technical support. Further free specialist advice and guidance will also be made available for those who participate in the pilot.

Government to fund and speed up vital cladding replacement
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 9 May 2019
Around £200 million will be made available to remove and replace unsafe cladding from around 170 privately owned high-rise buildings.

  • The government will fully fund the replacement of unsafe aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding on high-rise private residential properties where building owners have failed to do so
  • Communities Secretary the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP calls time on “reckless” building owners who have refused to take action
  • New funding estimated at £200 million to ensure this work takes place urgently

High streets and town centres in 2030: response to the Select Committee report
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 7 May 2019
A response by the government to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s 11th report of session 2017 to 2019 on high streets and town centres in 2030.

Consultation on a new Rent Standard from 2020
Regulator of Social Housing | 7 May 2019
The Regulator is proposing to replace the existing 2015 Rent Standard with a new Rent Standard for registered providers of social housing from 1 April 2020.  This consultation closes at 6pm on 30 July 2019

Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 3 May 2019
Government response to the consultation on a package of measures to provide greater planning certainty to support the high street and housing delivery. The report sets out the key issues raised in response to the 2018 consultation and the government response in respect of:

  • Part 1: permitted development rights and use classes - this includes new and amended permitted development rights to support the high street, enable people to build a larger extension to their home, and to remove the right to install a public call box and deemed advertisement consent
  • Part 2: the disposal of surplus local authority land - rationalising and updating the rules which govern disposal of public land at less than best value
  • Part 3: listed building consent order to support the work of the Canal & River Trust
  • Part 4: draft guidance on the compulsory purchase powers of new town development corporations

Overcoming the barriers to longer tenancies in the private rented sector: consultation outcome
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 15 April 2019
The government’s response proposes:

  • to improve security for tenants by repealing Section 21 of the Housing Act (1988), putting an end ‘no-fault’ evictions. This will protect tenants from having to make frequent and short notice moves, and will enable them to plan for the future.
  • amending the Section 8 eviction process, so landlords are able to regain their property should they wish to sell it or move into it themselves. This will provide a more secure legal framework and a more stable rental market for landlords to remain and invest in.
  • reforming the court process for housing cases, so that landlords are able to swiftly and smoothly regain their property where they have a legitimate reason – meaning landlords have the security of knowing disputes will be resolved more quickly.
  • removing no-fault evictions is a significant step.
  • we will launch a consultation on the details of a better system that will work for landlords and tenants.

Delivering schools to support housing growth
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 11 April 2019
Non-statutory guidance for local authorities planning for education to support housing growth and seeking associated developer contributions. The guidance includes advice for those involved in delivering new schools in new communities, and best practice guidance on securing developer contributions for education from housing development more generally.

Communities bid to make their high streets fit for the future
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 10 April 2019
More than 300 bids from local authorities across the country have been received for a share of the £675m Future High Streets Fund to transform their local high streets.

 

News

Deal signed to deliver 3,000 new homes in Nottinghamshire
LocalGov | 9 May 2019
Rushcliffe Borough Council has welcomed a new deal that will see thousands of new homes delivered in Nottinghamshire. Homes England has acquired 250 acres of a 605 acre site known as Fairham, and will support all aspects of the delivery to speed up the construction of 3,000 homes.

Whitehall ‘unwilling’ to help the high street, committee says
LocalGov | 8 May 2019
The Government is ‘unwilling’ to give high streets a ‘fighting chance’ in the battle with online retailers, a select committee has concluded. A report published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in February concluded that business rates were ‘stacking the odds’ against high street retailers. In their response to the report, the Government said that such changes would be ‘extremely challenging’. ‘Most of the reforms suggested by the committee go beyond the current business rates system,’ they said.

Struggling councils are spending millions on new offices
Financial Times | 8 May 2019
English Councils are spending millions building new headquarters to accommodate shrunken workforces, kick-start redevelopment projects and cut costs.

Councils should ‘invest to save’ by supporting local regeneration schemes
LocalGov | 2 May 2019
Local authorities should support community-based neighbourhood regeneration approaches to help bring empty homes back into use. The campaign group Action on Empty Homes’s new report, entitled ‘Community action on empty homes’, lays out plans for tackling the national rise in empty homes. There are currently over 216,000 empty homes across the UK. The report brings together lessons from a three-year project focused on six community-led projects bringing empty homes back to use.

Whitehall to miss target to release enough land for 160,000 homes
LocalGov | 2 May 2019
The Government is unlikely to reach its 2020 target to release sufficient public sector land to build 160,000 homes, auditors warn.  National Audit Office estimates that by 2020 enough land for only 65,000 homes is likely to have been released by Government departments, which is only 41% of the 160,000 target. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government reported to the NAO that by December 2018, land with a capacity for 38,166 homes had been released. At this rate, the MHCLG estimates that it will only reach the 160,000 target after 2025.

Peers call for strategies to develop ‘under-performing’ rural areas
LocalGov | 29 April 2019
Local authorities should develop their own strategies for realising the ‘potential in struggling and under-performing’ rural areas, a House of Lords committee has said. The House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy called on the Government over the weekend to develop a rural strategy and help realise the potential of rural economies. The Government needs to ‘rethink and reform’ the rural proofing process to ensure that relevant policies and legislation are attuned to the needs of rural communities and economies, the committee said.

Council to push ahead with £2m scheme to renovate ‘dilapidated’ flats
LocalGov | 25 April 2019
Great Yarmouth council is to go ahead with a scheme to buy up dilapidated flats and bed sits and renovate them for sale or rent. A report on the £2m scheme says it will be cost-neutral over 30 years and will improve the town centre environment. It says the housing market in parts of the town has 'challenges including low property values, low rental income, economically unviable guesthouses, streets in conservation areas needing uplift and lack of private investment.' 

Galliford Try announced as developer for Meridian Water’s first homes
Enfield Council | 25 April 2019
The first 725 homes at Enfield Council’s £6bn Meridian Water scheme will be delivered by development partner Galliford Try Partnerships. Enfield Council’s Cabinet agreed on 24 April that, after a robust evaluation of four very strong bids, developer Galliford Try Partnerships is best placed to deliver on value, quality, design and financial robustness. In all, 17 developers and housing associations expressed an interest in delivering Meridian One; 10 submitted bids and four were shortlisted – Galliford Try, L&Q, Peabody and Redrow.

The first homes, which will include a significant number of affordable homes, will be built by 2022. These will be complemented by new public squares, shops and leisure facilities. The new homes will be delivered around the new Meridian Water train station, which is due to open next month and serve up to four million rail passengers a year.

East Cambridgeshire DC approves garden village
Ely Standard | 24 April 2019
A major development of 500 homes has been approved. The decision to grant the outline proposals for Kennett Garden Village was approved followed a three hour meeting by members of the district council's planning committee this afternoon (April 24). 

Council spend on homeless ‘drops £1bn a year’
Public Finance | 24 April 2019
A £1bn drop in annual council spending on homelessness support in England should be a “wake-up call” for the government, charities have warned. Local authority spending on single homeless people has fallen by 53% between 2008-9 and 2017-18 meaning councils now spend £1bn less a year compared to nine years ago, according to research from homeless charities St Mungo’s and Homeless Link. The charities said that the government’s manifesto commitment of ending rough sleeping by 2027 will be missed unless the government provides more cash in this year’s Spending Review. 

Mayor purchases part of Edmonton hospital site for affordable housing
Mayor of London | 18 April 2019
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has used £12.8m from his Land Fund to purchase a 1.4-hectare site at the North Middlesex University Hospital (NMUH) in Edmonton. The site currently comprises of a car park, offices, and hospital testing facilities. These facilities will be relocated to other parts of the hospital ensuring no loss of services to patients.The Mayor expects the site to deliver at least 200 homes, with 50 per cent of those being social rented or other genuinely affordable housing, in line with his Housing Strategy.

London council signs a £44.6m partnership to build new homes
LocalGov | 17 April 2019
Croydon Council has signed up to a multi-million pound partnership with Legal & General in order to deliver over 160 new homes. The insurance company will invest £44.6m into houses and apartments in the borough and these will, in turn, be leased to the council on a 40-year term. The rents will be set at Local Housing Allowance (‘LHA’) levels, and after the term ends, the homes will revert to the council.

Unfair evictions to be banned under new proposals
LocalGov | 15 April 2019
The Government has outlined plans to abolish short notice and unfair evictions for private renters in England. The new legislation would scrap Section 21 evictions so tenants would not be worried about reporting problems with their home or being evicted at short notice.

Rethinking the high street: how can councils revive ailing town centres?
LGCPlus | 12 April 2019 (subscription required)
As the internet becomes our default option for shopping, forward-thinking councils are trying to encapsulate a new sense of purpose and place for town centres struggling with the rising tide of empty shopfronts.

Two-thirds of councils say they can’t afford to comply with homelessness law
Guardian | 10 April 2019
A year on from the Homelessness Reduction Act, councils fear lack of funds will hamper efforts to keep people housed and off the streets.

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Governance & Reorganisation

Scrutiny – a useful tool
Overview and Scrutiny are back on the menu this month with new statutory guidance issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. This quickly follows on from the Select Committee report in December 2017 which concluded that scrutiny was generally not being utilised effectively. We agree that a properly structured and focussed scrutiny function can be very successful in helping to deliver strong governance and decision making for the benefit of service users. It can be a very useful tool when engaged at an early stage of policy and decision making, particularly so in the current climate where difficult and potentially controversial outcomes may have to follow.

So, before Brexit goes back into overdrive in the run up to Halloween, why not review your scrutiny arrangements and see whether improvements can be made. This is something we have experience of successfully delivering within both executive and committee forms of governance, and which has had a positive impact on governance.

 

Social care and Children’s services funding crisis
The funding crisis around social care and children’s services seems to worsen by the day with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee being the latest to state that matters are at breaking point, and with the Government missing a fifth consecutive deadline for the publication of the elusive social care green paper the light at the end of the tunnel seems ever further away. With Northamptonshire’s children’s services being the latest to be pencilled in for delivery by a trust on behalf of the new unitary authorities coming into being in the near future, are there more in the pipeline?

 

Legislation

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Functions and Amendment) Order 2019
SI 2019/793 provides for the conferral of certain transport functions on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (“the GMCA”) including bus franchising and smart ticketing.

 

Publications & Guidance

New local authorities will be created in Northamptonshire
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee | 14 May 2019
Eight existing councils in Northamptonshire are to be abolished and replaced by 2 new councils of North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire to improve the delivery of public services across the county.

Announced by Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP. The new North Northamptonshire authority will cover the existing districts of Kettering, Corby, East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough. The West Northamptonshire authority will cover the existing districts of Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire. The new authorities will replace the current 2-tier system of local government and will be a significant step towards ensuring residents and businesses across Northamptonshire can in future have the sustainable high-quality local services they deserve. The new councils will align transport, housing and environment services and improve education and skills provision.

Local Enterprise Partnerships: 2018 to 2019 annual performance review results
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 13 May 2019
Letter from MHCLG Permanent Secretary to Chair of Public Accounts Committee on the outcomes of the 2018 to 2019 LEP annual performance reviews.

Mandatory client money protection
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 9 May 2019
Guidance for local authorities on the enforcement of mandatory client money protection.

The government has made it a legal requirement that property agents in the private rented sector holding client money must obtain membership from a government approved client money protection scheme from 1 April 2019.

Government aims to enhance council understanding of scrutiny
Public Finance | 8 May 2019
The government has issued statutory guidance for English councils to strengthen the role of scrutiny committees. Local authorities will be expected to share any information asked for by a scrutiny committee, according to the guidance, released yesterday by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Where a council is unable to give information in public they should consider sharing it in a closed session, the statutory advice added.

Overview and scrutiny: statutory guidance for councils and combined authorities
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 7 May 2019
Guidance to ensure local and combined authorities are aware of the purpose of overview and scrutiny and how to conduct it effectively. This is statutory guidance aimed at local and combined authorities. It includes a number of policies and practices authorities should adopt or should consider adopting when deciding how to carry out their overview and scrutiny functions. Press release.

Local Enterprise Partnerships: an update on progress
National Audit Office | 7 May 2019
This report examines MHCLG’s addressing of recommendations relating to the governance, transparency and value for money of Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Scrutiny statutory guidance published
Centre for Public Scrutiny | 7 May 2019
The CfPS has commented on the new Overview and Scrutiny report from MHCLG.

Children’s services at breaking point – Government must back local authorities with funding that meets demand
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee | 1 May 2019
Constricted funding and ever increasing demand have left children’s services in England at breaking point, a report published today by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found. Ahead of the 2019 Spending Review, the report calls for a funding settlement that reflects the challenges local authorities face in delivering children’s social care, and recommends a minimum increase to core grant funding of £3.1bn up until 2025.
Report summary
Conclusions and recommendations
Full report: Funding of local authorities' children's services

LGA responds to HCLG Committee report on children's services funding
Local Government Association | 1 May 2019
“It is great that the influential Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has backed the LGA’s call for new funding to be invested in children’s services in the forthcoming Spending Review, and recognises our estimation of the £3.1 billion funding gap councils face by 2025. “These are absolutely vital council services in desperate need of significant and sustained long-term investment, which keep children and young people safe from harm and the worst abuses of society. “However, as the LGA and the sector have long warned, children’s services are at a tipping point as a result of increasingly high levels of demand for support and cuts in central government funding.”

CIPFA response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee report on the instability of funding of local authorities children’s services
CIPFA | 1 May 2019
Responding to the findings of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee report on the instability of funding of local authorities’ children’s services, Dr Eleanor Roy, CIPFA Policy Manager Health and Social Care, said: “Today’s report raises concerns about fulfilling the increasing demand for children’s services, as it shows local authorities drawing back on discretionary, often preventative, services that could avoid young people and families reaching crisis point in the first place.”

Four Seasons Health Care Group – financial difficulties and safeguards for clients
House of Commons Library | 1 May 2019
This House of Commons Library briefing paper explores the latest developments concerning the financial state of the Four Seasons Health Care Group – the UK’s second largest care home provider – and (for England) the regulatory oversight of strategically important social care providers and the temporary duty of local authorities to meet people’s needs when a provider suffers business failure. Full report.

Non-Domestic Rates (Preparation for Digital Services) Bill: policy factsheet
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 25 April 2019
This factsheet provides further background information on the measures within the Non-Domestic Rates (Preparation for Digital Services) Bill.

Government pledges to improve the way Council Tax debt is recovered
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 10 April 2019
Vulnerable people who fall behind with Council Tax payments will have greater protection from aggressive debt enforcement under new plans to improve the way councils collect arrears.

  • Minister commits to making the Council Tax collection system fairer and more efficient
  • New guidance coming to improve how councils recover unpaid Council Tax and end aggressive enforcement tactics
  • Government to work with charities, debt advice organisations and councils on new guidance

Better Care Fund: how it will work in 2019 to 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 10 April 2019
This document sets out the agreed way in which the BCF will be implemented in financial year 2019 to 2020.

It includes:

  • the level of funding for 2019 to 2020
  • conditions of access to the fund
  • national performance metrics
  • the assurance and approval process

 

News

Councils receive extra £30m to care for asylum seeking children
LocalGov | 9 May 2019
The amount of funding councils receive to look after unaccompanied asylum seeking children is set to rise by £30m. The Government said the funding increase will ensure all local authorities are paid the same amount per child regardless of the child’s age or when they entered the UK.

Whitehall approves South Yorkshire devolution deal
LocalGov | 9 May 2019
The Government has approved the South Yorkshire devolution deal, which will see £900m invested in the region. The leaders of Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley MBCs, Sheffield City Council, and the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority agreed to the deal in March after four years of deadlock. The offer, which was temporarily halted in 2017 after Barnsley and Doncaster MBCs demanded one deal for the whole of Yorkshire, includes £900m in investment over a 30-year period.

London council budgets slashed 17% over last decade
LocalGov | 9 May 2019
London’s local authority budgets have dropped by nearly a fifth - or 17% - per head over the last eight years, a new study has revealed. The think tank Centre for London has analysed how council budgets and spending in the capital have changed since 2010/11. It found that all principal service areas, with the exception of children’s social care, have seen budget reductions, with planning and development, highways and transport and cultural activity budgets facing the largest cuts.

Government aims to enhance council understanding of scrutiny
Public Finance | 8 May 2019
The Government has issued statutory guidance for English councils to strengthen the role of scrutiny committees. Local authorities will be expected to share any information asked for by a scrutiny committee, according to the guidance, released yesterday by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Where a council is unable to give information in public they should consider sharing it in a closed session, the statutory advice added.

MPs make children’s services Spending Review plea to chancellor
Public Finance | 1 May 2019
The Spending Review must provide a six-year £3.1bn package for local authorities’ children’s services “at a minimum”, MPs have urged. Children’s services in England are at “crisis point” and extra funding must go “hand in hand” with systemic change, according to a report from the housing, communities and local government committee.  The report, out today, stated that local authorities in England provide a range of statutory and non-statutory services at an annual cost of £9bn but councils are overspending on budgets and becoming “increasingly reliant” on the goodwill of social care professionals.

Green proposes reforms to fix the ‘unsustainable’ care system
LocalGov | 29 April 2019
The cash-strapped care system should adopt the model of the state pension to help deal with its multi-billion pound funding hole, Damian Green MP argues. A new study from the Centre for Policy Studies characterises the current care system as ‘unsustainable’ and warns it discourages local councils from investing in social care and housing for older people.

Amount of unpaid council tax rises to £3bn
LocalGov | 26 April 2019
The total amount of unpaid council tax has risen to more than £3bn, according to the latest figures. Research by Citizens Advice says around 2.2m households – 10% of the total – are behind with payments. Council tax arrears grew by a third in the eight years up to 2018, the charity warns, up by 6% in the last year alone. However, it is calling for a series of measures to prevent bailiffs using aggressive methods to collect the debts including setting up an independent watchdog.

Spending Review timings uncertain because of Brexit, Hammond confirms
Public Finance | 25 April 2019
Philip Hammond has hinted if the Treasury goes ahead with a three-year Spending Review it might not happen in 2019, to a group of MPs. The chancellor told the treasury select committee today that it would be “unwise” to make a three-year settlement before details of Britain’s exit from the EU were agreed.

When pressed on whether the six-month extension to Brexit discussion meant the Spending Review would be delayed until next year, Hammond did not answer the question. He told the committee: “We will keep an open mind about how the process should unfold as we go through the next few months.

Whitehall warned not to ‘roll-back’ on devolution agenda
LocalGov | 24 April 2019
Cornwall council has urged the Government not to ‘roll-back’ from the promise of greater devolution after Brexit. The local authority, which was the first rural authority to secure a devolution deal, warned Whitehall that any reversal in the devolution agenda would put local economies ‘at significant risk’.

IPPR: UK public spending should be raised to European levels
Public Finance | 23 April 2019
The UK must become “more European” in its approach to public spending to end austerity, a think-tank has urged. Aligning the UK’s public spending with similar countries like Germany and France would see total spend increase by £2,500 per person annually, according to analysis by the Institute of Public Policy Research.

Borough warned over cost of scrapping elected mayor
LGCPlus | 17 April 2019 (subscription required)
Holding a referendum on scrapping the elected mayoralty in Newham LBC will cost at least £370,000, a report to the council has said. Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz (Lab) took office last year pledging to hold a binding vote on whether her post should be scrapped.

She told LGC at the time: “The mayoral model leads to a democratic deficit and people feeling even more disillusioned in the ability of politics to change things. It’s no surprise that voters are being drawn into polarising politics - there needs to be a correction.”

Growth in combined authority workforces revealed
LGCPlus | 16 April 2019 (subscription required)
Staffing expenditure by the mayoral combined authorities has increased by 30% since May 2017 as the total workforce has grown by a fifth, LGC research has found. While responsibilities vary between organisations, and many staff are employed to work on specific projects, the figures demonstrate the growing role they are playing within their regions and beyond. In May 2017, when voters in six of the seven mayoral CAs elected their first mayors, there were 2,402 staff on the payroll. By December 2018 this had risen to 2,877. Almost three quarters of this increase was accounted for by Greater Manchester, West Midlands and Liverpool City Region CAs, which each saw staff numbers grow by more than 100.

Details delay social care green paper
Public Finance | 15 April 2019
Delays to the social care green paper are a result of the need for “greater consideration” of proposals. Sector leaders have warned the pressure on social care in England “does not abate” after the government missed a fifth consecutive deadline for the green paper’s publication.  While Brexit has played a part in delaying the document, issues with the early proposals put to sector leaders have also contributed to the slow progress.

 

Cases

Britwell Parish Council, R (on the application of) v Slough Borough Council [2019] EWHC 998 (Admin) (17 April 2019)
The High Court has upheld the judicial review claim brought by two parish councils challenging the Slough Borough Council (Reorganisation of Community Governance) Order 2019. The Order provided for the abolition of Britwell and Wexham Court parish councils. The court was satisfied that the Order should be quashed as the council had misinterpreted paragraph 120 of the guidance on community governance reviews.

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Contract Management

Presenting contracts – the concept of legal design
Outsourcing continues to fall under scrutiny amid warnings from MP’s that the Government has not done enough to ensure that governance systems in local authorities are suitable for an “era of financial pressure and rapid change”. Local authorities are pursuing shared services, expanding outsourcing and taking on commercial activities at the same time as cutting funding for corporate activities like governance. 

A new report  from the Public Accounts Committee has said that local governance arrangements are being “stretched and tested” as cash-strapped councils take more risks to meet increasing service demands. The report quotes the Local Government Association stating that “we have to take more risky activity than we used to” as “those services that people rely on will still have to be delivered”. In the LGA’s view this was a situation of Government’s making: “The Government could not have it both ways: you could not give us less, but expect us to do more and then say, ‘Don’t take any risks.

So as the pressure continues to mount on service delivery and ensuring that the contracts underlying that delivery are robust, the structure of the contract itself is also under the spotlight.  There is increased talk of ‘legal design’ in respect of the way that the law is delivered.  The Society for Computers and Law (subscription only) has published a series of short articles looking at the term ‘legal design’, the principles and tools involved, and explores various real-life examples of legal design in practice.   

However, whilst legal contracts can be long and difficult to digest, the concept of legal design focuses on how to present the information in a different way.  This may be through writing in plain language, removing jargon, including summaries and visualisations of information, diagrams and pictures.  The concept is to make the contract engaging, visual and easier to understand and the benefit, for example, in the context of privacy notices, is clear.  By creating a more accessible privacy policy this allows the information to reach and be understood by more people, whilst meeting the mandate that all privacy notices need to be concise, transparent and written in plain language (Article 12 and Working Party 29 guidelines). 

But in practice, particularly in large complex contracts, the approach raises a number of questions.  How would a more visual, simplified output work in protracted negotiations, for example, on a high value, complex IT procurement? Whilst large documents, such as the CCS Model Services Agreement, may appear cumbersome, the detail largely reflects the complex nature of the procurements it is intended to be used for.  If legal design principles were to be applied to such a contract, who would be responsible for the costs and time of converting the negotiated contract into this new construct?  Most crucially, whilst most contracts benefit from plain language and less legalese, there is some terminology that is used because the interpretation has been tried and tested.  By moving to a more visual approach, would the parties lose the benefit of the case law that has been developed giving clarity on interpretation and intent?

 

News

"Shockingly small" number of councils embrace automation, study reveals
LocalGov | 10 May 2019
Research by the Transformation Network dealing with the adoption of new technology in the local government sector has revealed that fewer than 5% of councils have automation or AI projects underway.

Westpac gets lawyers to test if it can trust AI bots
The Australian Financial Review Magazine | 20 May 2019
Westpac Banking Group has engaged a law firm to review the work done by artificial intelligence compliance software and ensure it can trust bots to read laws accurately.

Panel to clarify legal status of smart contracts
Law Society Gazette | 10 May 2019
One of the first outputs of the government-backed LawTech Delivery Panel is to be a consultation aiming to create “an authoritative legal statement on the status of cryptoassets and smart contracts under English private law”.  The consultation closes on 21 June 2019.

Brexit contracts renewed at cost of £160m
PublicFinance | 9 May 2019
The government has spent £160m renewing Brexit consultancy contracts that are now due to run until April 2020.  Analysis from Tussell, a data provider on UK government contracts, indicates that the Cabinet Office has renewed each of its nine ‘EU Exit Programme Delivery’ contracts.  These were initially awarded in April 2018 and had been due to expire this month, but will now run until next April.  The renewed contracts were awarded to firms such as Deloitte, EY, PwC but entirely new contracts were also awarded to smaller firms.

Council to save £143m after ending LOBO loan
LocalGov | 7 May 2019
Newham Council is set to £143m after successfully terminating its Lender Option Borrower Option (LOBO) loans with NatWest bank. The agreement will allow the council - which took out six LOBO loans with the bank in 2009 - to pay off the loans at a considerably lower rate of interest. The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: 'Over the past ten years that the loans have been in place, it’s cost us an extra £31m in interest payments compared to borrowing from the PWLB. That’s money that should have been spent on Newham residents.’ 

Guidance for audit committees on cloud services
National Audit Office | 24 April 2019
Cloud services can reduce organisations’ costs, increase efficiency and transform operations, but accessing systems via the internet can also bring new risks and challenges.  The new NAO guide provides an overview of cloud services and outlines government policy on their use.  It then sets out questions management can ask themselves at three stages: selecting the right product for their needs, implementing it securely and managing it effectively.

Bids to end troubled Birmingham PFI deal rejected
LGCPlus | 16 April 2019 (subscription required)
Amey has had multiple offers to cancel its 25-year Birmingham road repairs contract rejected, the city council has revealed. Birmingham City Council said the contractor had tabled offers to the PFI joint venture body that manages the arrangement in an effort to exit the disputed deal. It declined to confirm any amounts offered, but the Sunday Times has reported Amey proposed a deal in the region of £300m.

 

Cases

Teesside Gas Transportation Ltd v CATS North Sea Ltd and other companies [2019] EWHC 1220 (Comm)
BAILII | 14 May 2019
The proceedings concerned the use of a gas pipeline in the North Sea.  The claimant company and the predecessors of the defendants entered into a contract which entitled the claimant to a pre-determined capacity of pipeline gas.  The claimaint was seeking various declarations about the entitlement to withhold some or all of the amount.  There was a counterclaim for the full unpaid sum.  The commercial court ruled on the correct interpretation of the contract and whether there was a right for the defendants to restate certain capacity fees.

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Disputes

Difficult contractual relationships and option to argue that a good faith duty exists
In entering into complex contracts, parties often expect that both they and their contracting partner will act honestly, reasonably and in a way that would largely be regarded as acceptable. However, in general terms English law has held that there is no general duty of good faith in relation to contractual arrangements, and the court should not intervene to impose an obligation beyond that contemplated between the parties as the time their contract was entered into.

However, in the recent High Court decision of Bates & Ors v Post Office Limited [2019] EWHC 606, the judge considered there to be:

“a specie of contract, which are most usefully termed ‘relational contracts’ in which there is implied an obligation of good faith (which is also termed ‘fair dealing’ in some of the cases).  This means that the parties must refrain from conduct which in the relevant context would be regarded as commercially unacceptable by reasonable and honest people. An implied duty of good faith does not mean solely that the parties must be honest.”

The requirement to act in good faith goes beyond simply acting honestly, it means that “parties must refrain from conduct which in the relevant context would be regarded as commercially unacceptable by reasonable and honest people. Transparency, co-operation, and trust and confidence are …implicit.”

We regularly support local authorities in managing difficult contracts and advising them when relationships are fraught or have broken down. This case will be reassuring to authorities with problem relationships (e.g. with suppliers or service providers) where there is no express duty of good faith in the contract; in circumstances where there is a commitment to collaboration or partnership and a high degree of communication, cooperation and predictable performance based on mutual trust and confidence, it will be arguable that a relational contract exists with an implied obligation of good faith.

 

News

Council pays out over £40,000 for ‘mistakes’ in respite centre closure
LocalGov | 14 May 2019
Southampton City Council has paid thousands of pounds in compensation after an Ombudsman ruled that the authority had caused ‘avoidable distress’ when it closed a respite centre.

City council hit by legal action over procurement of bus shelters
Local Government Lawyer | 2 May 2019
Leicester City Council is facing a £2m legal claim from street furniture contractor JC Decaux over a contract to provide bus shelters. JC Decaux has provided shelters in which it sells advertising panels since 2002 but has said that the council has now awarded the contract to another, unnamed, bidder in a procurement process in which it argues unlawful amendments were made. The council disputes that this has happened. A city council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that legal proceedings have been issued against the city council by JC Decaux in relation to an ongoing procurement process. They are challenging the award of a bus shelter contract to another party

London borough secures £1.1m confiscation order against landlord over studio and bedsit conversions
Local Government Lawyer | 30 April 2019
Southwark Council has secured a confiscation order for more than £1.1m against a landlord who turned three flats in London Bridge into around 20 studios and bedsits. Andre Charles Trepel was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 costs at the Inner London Crown Court on 17 April, 2019 for breaching a planning enforcement notice, with his company – No.1 (London) Ltd – fined a further £1,000. Trepel, and the company, will also have to pay back £1,118,601 criminal benefit under Proceeds of Crime confiscation orders within the next three months or he will face a seven-year prison sentence.

Heathrow runway clears High Court hurdle
LocalGov | 30 April 2019
The High Court has dismissed arguments against Heathrow expansion and found that the Government is free to ignore the Paris Agreement on climate action until it forms part of UK law. The High Court rejected all five legal challenges against transport Secretary Chris Grayling's decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow Airport. In response Mr Grayling called on local authorities not to waste any more public money pursuing legal challenges. The collection of legal claims was brought by five councils, as well as London mayor Sadiq Khan, environmental campaign groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and a private individual - all of whom opposed any expansion of the airport. A case was also brought by the promoters of a rival Heathrow expansion scheme.

Court of Appeal agrees to hear case on housing allocation policy and religion
Local Government Lawyer | 29 April 2019
The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal a Divisional Court ruling that a housing association letting homes on the basis of religion was lawful. The case of Z & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v Hackney London Borough Council & Anor [2019] EWHC 139 was brought by applicant R against Agudas Israel Housing Association (AIHA) and the London Borough of Hackney. In the Divisional Court R and her three-year-old son challenged the allocation policies of the council and AIHA, arguing that these “in effect preclude any persons who are not members of the Orthodox Jewish community from becoming tenants of [its] properties”.

Supreme Court refuses football club owners permission to appeal state aid ruling
Local Government Lawyer | 23 April 2019
The Supreme Court has refused companies related to the owners of Coventry City Football Club, Sisu, permission to appeal in a dispute over decisions taken by Coventry City Council in relation to the Ricoh Arena.

The local authority had decided to extend Arena Coventry Limited’s (ACL’s) lease of the stadium to 250 years. The city council also sold its 50% share in ACL to Wasps RFC, with the rugby club also acquiring the other 50% share from the Alan Edward Higgs Charity. The appellants were seeking to appeal the Court of Appeal’s ruling in R (Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (No. 2) [2018] EWCA Civ 2252, where the judges upheld a decision by Mr Justice Singh, to refuse permission for judicial review. In a joint statement Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, and Cllr Gary Ridley, Leader of the opposition Conservative Group, said: “We are delighted with the judgment from the highest court in the land which once again justifies why we have robustly defended all claims brought by Sisu-related companies over recent years.

Ten-year residency criteria discriminated against Irish Travellers and refugees, Court of Appeal rules
Local Government Lawyer | 17 April 2019
The London Borough of Hillingdon’s housing allocation policy which provides that, subject to exceptions, a person who has not been continuously living in the borough for at least 10 years will not qualify to join its housing register, indirectly discriminates against Irish Travellers and refugees and this had not yet been justified by the council, the Court of Appeal has declared. One of the exceptions to Hillingdon’s policy was that an unintentionally homeless person who does not satisfy the residence requirement is entitled to join the register; but is placed in band D. Two challenges were brought against the lawfulness of Hillingdon’s policy, on the ground that it was indirectly discriminatory on the ground of race; and could not be justified.

Funding reductions and legal challenges
Local Government Lawyer | 12 April 2019
The High Court has handed down an important judgment on local authority funding reductions. Jonathan Auburn and Peter Lockley look at its findings in a case concerning Hackney Council's approach to Special Educational Needs funding and Education and Healthcare Plans. In R (AD & Ors) v London Borough of Hackney [2019] EWHC 943 (Admin), Mr Justice Supperstone rejected a multi-faceted challenge to Hackney’s provision of Special Educational Needs (“SEN”) funding and its method of drawing up Education and Healthcare (“EHC”) Plans, in a ruling that will have important ramifications for legal challenges to local authority funding decisions. The Court held that Hackney was entitled to apply a banded approach to costing SEN provision, and gave important rulings on a number of commonly used forms of legal challenge to local authority funding decisions, including statutory have regard duties relating to children’s welfare and equality duties.

Claimant lawyers press for early trial of incinerator procurement
Local Government Lawyer | 11 April 2019
Lawyers acting for campaigners against a Gloucestershire incinerator have said they will press for an early trial of their claim that it was tendered in breach of regulations. Law firm Gregg Latchams said pressure group Community R4C was “seeking to expose the way the tender has been handled stating it is a breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015”. It said the Javelin Park incinerator’s costs had risen from £450m when the contract was awarded in 2013 to £600m, and that Community R4C had crowdfunded a third of its £30,000 target for legal costs.

 

Cases

Keep the Horton General v Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group & Anor [2019] EWCA Civ 646 (11 April 2019)
This was an appeal by "Keep the Horton General” from an order dismissing the judicial review claim of the Interested Parties brought against the respondent Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group. The claim was brought by four local government authorities challenging the lawfulness of a public consultation launched by the CCG about proposals for changes in the provision of hospital and health care services.

London council and care home amend policies after giving confusing information about fees
Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman | 17 April 2019
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Moreland House care home have agreed to change their charging policies after a resident paid too much for her care. The council and care home provided a woman’s daughter with confusing and sometimes incorrect information about the fees her mother owed. The Ombudsman’s investigation found the council at fault for the way it contracted out collecting client contributions to the care provider, which is not permissible under current social care guidelines .It also found the council and care provider gave confusing information about the different elements of the fee for the mother’s care. And the care provider delayed invoicing the daughter for part of the fees, which left her facing a large bill when it finally arrived. The council did not set a personal budget for the mother or prepare a care and support plan. It also failed to offer her a placement without a top-up fee, which is not in line with the Care Act.

Parish councils win High Court challenge over abolition after borough misinterpreted guidance
Local Government Lawyer | 23 April 2019
Slough Borough Council misinterpreted government guidance and so an order providing for the abolition of two parish councils in its area must be quashed, a High Court judge has ruled. In Britwell Parish Council, R (on the application of) v Slough Borough Council [2019] EWHC 998 (Admin) Britwell Parish Council and Wexham Court Parish Council sought to challenge the Slough Borough Council (Reorganisation of Community Governance) Order 2019 ("the Order").The claimants argued that Slough, which made the Order, failed to have regard to relevant guidance requiring that there must, amongst other things, be clear and sustained local support for abolition of a parish council.

Housing allocation schemes: indirect discrimination
Local Government Lawyer | 26 April 2019
In an important decision for local housing authorities, the Court of Appeal has ruled that Hillingdon Council’s housing allocation policy (which prioritised people who had been resident in the local area for 10 years) indirectly discriminated against certain protected groups. The policy was therefore unlawful. R (on the application of Ward) v. Hillingdon London Borough Council [2019] EWCA Civ 692, R (on the application of Gullu) v. Hillingdon London Borough Council [2019] EWHC 1937 Admin.

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Forthcoming Events

Employment seminars: Shining a light on wrongdoing at work
Tuesday 4 June, London
Tuesday 11 June, Birmingham
Wednesday 12 June, Bristol

Aimed primarily at HR and OD professionals and in-house legal advisers, this half day training session will look at current issues relating to the raising of concerns at work.

Annual Mental Health and Court of Protection Seminar
Tuesday 4 June, Leeds
Wednesday 5 June, London
Tuesday 11 June, Bristol
Wednesday 12 June, Birmingham

The pace of change in Mental Health Law gives rise to a range of challenges for mental health professionals, both clinical and in management. Our seminar will give an outline of what the changes mean for daily practice as well as how they will affect the structure and policy behind mental healthcare provision.

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