Content Summary


Your Contact

Alternative Contact

LA Spotlight



Delivering Value

Chris Harper

Kirtpal Kaur Aujla

Place & Growth

Rebecca Pendlebury

Vicky Maher

Governance & Reorganisation

Judith Barnes

David Kitson

Contract Management

Richard Lane

Liz Fletcher

Disputes & Regulatory Support

Olivia Carter

Judith Hopper

Resource Library







LA Spotlight

Some in local government may think that it is suspicious that new Guidance “Statutory intervention and inspection: a guide for local authorities”, published in May 2020 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG), has been re-issued at a time when a number of Chief Finance Officers are likely to be considering whether or not to issue a report under Section 114 Local Government Act 1988, prompted by significant urgent unplanned expenditure in connection with COVID 19.  However, the Guidance states that it has been produced in response to requests, in particular from the Public Accounts Committee, for greater transparency on the intervention process for local authorities.

The Secretary of State has the power under Section 15 to “take any action which he considers necessary or expedient to secure” compliance with the requirements of the best value duty. Best value is of course the duty under Section 3 Local Government Act 1999 to secure continuous improvement in the exercise of the functions of the authority having regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness and therefore covers performance of all of the powers and duties of the authority. This includes the appointment of Commissioners and removal of services from an authority’s control.

The report was followed this week by another MHCLG publication “Addressing cultural and governance failings in local authorities: lessons from recent interventions”. MHCLG states that based on experience of “supporting and, sometimes, intervening in local authorities experiencing difficulties”, it has become clear that culture and governance at a local authority, is key to its success or failure.

Many of you may think that this link is not new, indeed it was a key part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment run by the Audit Commission.  As far back as 2003 the Commission’s report “Corporate Governance: Improvement and Trust in Local Public Services” explored the contribution that corporate governance makes to the quality of public services and unsurprisingly stated “Poor public sector corporate governance is at the heart of many public service failures”. The 2006 Key lines of Enquiry still provide some useful indicators of good corporate governance.

There have been only four formal interventions under Section 15 Local Government Act 1999 since 2010 (Doncaster, Tower Hamlets, Rotherham and Northamptonshire). In essence, what was previously termed the “nuclear option” is the ability of the Secretary of State to appoint an independent inspector to undertake a best value inspection, appoint Commissioners, seek improvement and ultimately decide whether to issue a direction to take over responsibility for delivery of a specific function or the functions of the whole authority. 

There are some useful flowcharts as to the process involved, though the Guidance recognises that every intervention is different. After receipt of a best value inspection report, the Secretary of State will normally send a “minded to” letter to the authority stating whether or not he/she is proposing to intervene. The authority usually has 10 working days to respond to such a letter before the Secretary of State takes action.

The best value regime is independent of other powers to intervene, such as those of the Secretary of State for Education in relation to education or children’s social care services; and the CQC’s powers to appoint Commissioners and develop improvement plans in respect of adult social care. The Guidance notes that the Secretary of State will generally not take over planning under a 1999 Act intervention, but where an authority has failed to put in place a local plan for a considerable period, the Secretary of State may appoint someone to develop a local plan for the authority.  Bevan Brittan has experience of seeking to resist intervention and assisting authorities to deal with intervention, especially in relation to children’s services and the creation of children’s trusts.

The guide to addressing cultural and governance failings also notes the informal intervention in Birmingham and Kensington and Chelsea (following Grenfell) and highlights the need for effective leadership from both corporate management and political leadership, and the different approaches taken to address the issues to seek to avoid them happening again. 

The financial implications of COVID-19 were highlighted by a budget survey report prepared by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. The survey found that only 4% of directors were confident that their budgets were sufficient to meet their statutory duties and estimated the impact of COVID-19 as being c£6.6bn to September, with approximately £2.2bn having been provided by central government so far.

Meanwhile MHCLG states that it has not yet been informed of any local authority at “imminent risk” of the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) issuing a Section 114 report. Yet there have been numerous press reports citing authorities that are on the brink.  CIPFA issued modifications to their Section 114 Guidance also on 11 June, suggesting that CFO’s should “at the earliest possible stage” make “informal confidential contact with MHCLG to advise of financial concerns and a possible forthcoming Section 114 requirement” and communicate the potential unbalanced budget position due to COVID-19 to MHCLG, at the same time as giving a potential Section 114 scenario report to Cabinet and the external auditor. The note goes on to say “In practice this means it should not normally be necessary for a Section 114 report to be issued while discussions with the government that would address the issue are in progress”.  In effect the CFO needs to open dialogue with MHCLG to seek to avoid having to make a Section 114(3) report (which would in due course need to be presented to the full Council) in the hope that government is more forthcoming on funding. Perhaps it is time for several CFOs to join together and engage with MHCLG, as one may suspect that no authority wishes to be the first.

Back to top



Delivering Value

Time to update your Outsourcing Playbook

The Cabinet Office has published Procurement Policy Note PPN 05/20 – The Outsourcing Playbook V2.0. This announces that the Outsourcing Playbook has been updated, along with a number of the supporting Guidance Notes.

In February 2019, the Government published a suite of documents: The Outsourcing Playbook – Central government guidance on outsourcing decisions and contracting” and twelve Outsourcing Guidance Notes. These were published following study of what, why and how the Government outsources services, prompted by the fall-out from the collapse of Carillion in January 2018. The Outsourcing Playbook introduced key new policies capturing the approaches and behaviours required in central government outsourcing of services.

Our recent article covering the publication of the original Outsourcing Playbook and Guidance Notes in February 2019 outlined the amendments to some of the documents in the period May to November 2019.

The June 2020 version updates the Outsourcing Playbook and there are new or updated Guidance Notes and tools:

  • Delivery Model Assessments
  • Should Cost Modelling
  • Testing and Piloting Services
  • Risk Allocation and Pricing Approaches
  • Competitive Dialogue and Competitive Procedure with Negotiation
  • Bid Evaluation Guidance
  • Assessing and Monitoring the Economic and Financial Standing of Suppliers Guidance Note
  • Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool 2.0PPN 05/20 applies to Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies. However, the Outsourcing Playbook and associated guidance, is considered good practice and can be applied across the wider public sector. For further help and guidance, view out webcast, available w/c 29 June.


Publications & Guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice to local authorities on prioritising waste collections: updated guidance
Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 3 June 2020
A guide to help waste collectors prioritise their collection services during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes managing household waste recycling centres. Updated guidance to reflect that there are no restrictions on taking journeys to local HWRCs to dispose of waste.

What lessons for UK public services from the coronavirus pandemic?
The House of Lords Select Committee on Public Services | 29 May 2020
The House of Lords Select Committee on Public Services, set up to examine the transformation of public services to ensure that they are fit for the 21st century, will look into what the COVID-19 experience can tell us about their future role, priorities and shape.
The inquiry will focus on four key areas:

  • Integration of services
  • Inequalities in access and outcome
  • Relationships between local and national services
  • The role of civil society (private sector, charities, volunteers and community groups) during the pandemic.

The committee is due to hold its first public evidence session on 3 June.

Supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: updated guidance
Department for Education | 15 May 2020
Updated guidance to reflect wider plans for more year groups to return to education settings, stating that vulnerable children and young people remain a priority, and are expected to attend if appropriate. We have not changed the groups included in the definition of vulnerable children, but have provided further examples of what types of children might be considered to be ‘otherwise vulnerable’, at the education provider’s discretion. Updated links to Public Health England advice also included.

Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care
Department for Education | 14 May 2020
Preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE, in education, childcare and children’s social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak.



Councils partner to launch community bank
Public Finance | 11 June 2020
Three councils in the North-West of England are to press on with the development of a community bank to help tackle financial inequality in the region, after the green light was given by the financial regulator. Councils in Liverpool, Preston and The Wirral have partnered to create North West Mutual Ltd, a not-for-profit enterprise that was approved by the FCA on 28 May.
The councils said the venture aims to create a bank “to serve the financial needs of ordinary people, local community groups and small and medium sized companies”, and to redress regional inequalities.

Leisure Centres on the Brink Without Rescue Funding - Councils Warn
District Councils Network | 10 June 2020
Leisure centres closed due to coronavirus may never re-open unless government brings forward a financial rescue package to save the sector, a new survey reveals today. The District Councils’ Network is forecasting a financial hit to leisure centres of around £305m this year – which will send many out of business. It found that leisure services in district council areas lost over £45m in income in April 2020 alone, compared with the year before. Councils are concerned that the rapid loss of income will cause many leisure providers to go bust, while those that might survive would offer reduced services and hours.

£63m for local authorities to assist those struggling to afford food and other essentials
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 11 June 2020
An additional £63m has been confirmed by the government to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus. Local authorities are already working to support those who are vulnerable and this additional funding will contribute to that work. Many have existing mechanisms to provide this support in a way that suits the needs of their community. This includes provision of cash payments, food vouchers, or alternative means of support.

Councils using data analytics to identify vulnerable people
Public Finance | 10 June 2020
A number of local authorities in England are using data-mining tools to help identify vulnerable people in need of support, including those who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Last month, data management firm Xantura partnered with CIPFA to help identify those individuals most vulnerable as a result of the pandemic. The process identifies vulnerable people based on a broad set of risk factors, including debt levels; income and reliance on benefits; whether they live alone; and disabilities – as well as wider health issues.  Xantura has been working with councils including Barking and Dagenham and Thurrock Council in Essex.  

Council loan repayments delay needed amid coronavirus financial crisis
Local Government Association | 5 June 2020
Councils need access to cheaper short-term loans with delayed repayments to help them tackle the cash flow problems threatening their efforts to lead communities through the immediate COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

HM Treasury Public Works Loans Board, future lending terms, response to the consultation from Local Government Association
Local Government Association | 21 May 2020
The consultation paper was issued before strict measures were implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the financial environment for local government has changed so profoundly that we cannot overlook the issue. We call upon HMT to implement these two schemes quickly and urgently to help councils through the current crisis. This needs to be done as soon as possible and not wait for the outcome of the review or for the Comprehensive Spending Review. Full response.

Public Works Loan Board: Future lending terms consultation: updated deadline
HM Treasury | 15 May 2020
The government is seeking views from local authorities and other stakeholders on the lending terms of the Public Works Loan Board. Consultation document. Deadline extended until 11:59pm on 31 July 2020.

Council loan repayments delay needed amid coronavirus financial crisis
Local Government Association | 5 June 2020
Councils need access to cheaper short-term loans with delayed repayments to help them tackle the cash flow problems threatening their efforts to lead communities through the immediate COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Further funding uplift announced for councils caring for children seeking asylum
Home Office | 8 June 2020
Further funding has been announced today by the Minister for Immigration Compliance, Chris Philp. There will be a significant uplift in funding for all local authorities providing ongoing support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children leaving care. The new rate (£240 per person per week) replaces the previous rates of £150 and £200 per week, representing a 20-60% increase. There will also be a targeted 25% uplift in funding for local authorities across the UK who are currently looking after the highest numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children when compared to their child population. They will receive a tariff of £143 per child per night instead of the standard rate of £114 per child per night.

Middlesbrough to keep control of its children's services
LocalGov | 5 June 2020
Middlesbrough Council will be allowed to keep control of its 'inadequate' children's services to allow further improvements to be made. The move was recommended by the commissioner for children’s services, Peter Dwyer. He was appointed by the Government after an Ofsted inspection in November 2019 found the council's children's services were 'inadequate' in all four judgement areas. His report states: 'It is recommended that the local authority and its partners are afforded the opportunity to further enhance their improvement activity to date.

Free community groups to take on assets - think-tank
LocalGov | 3 June 2020
Powers allowing community groups to take on local assets should be kick-started to build on the volunteer spirit generated by Covid says a think-tank report released today.

In its report Local delivery – protecting social infrastructure Localis calls for greater Government funding to community asset bids as well as extending the current six month moratorium on an asset sale to 12 months.

Council to sell Bristol Energy
LocalGov | 3 June 2020
Bristol City Council has given the go-ahead to put its loss-making energy company up for sale. Mayor Marvin Rees said Bristol Energy has faced ‘unprecedented challenges’ since it was established by his predecessor in 2015 and no more funds would be invested. The sale was agreed in a closed session and follows a confidential council-commissioned report by Ernst & Young.

Local authority to postpone risk-sharing agreement
Public Finance | 2 June 2020
Rochdale Borough Council has suspended its risk-sharing agreement with the borough’s clinical commissioning group, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Two years ago the council and the CCG created a pooled fund and risk-share agreement as part of the merging of health and social care services – with the local authority responsible for 30% of the budget. However, due to the “high level of uncertainty” around the financial impact the Covid-19 pandemic, the CCG and the council are taking responsibility for their own overspends and budget gaps for the remainder of the financial year. The suspension was agreed during a cabinet meeting last week, to “allow for greater transparency in understanding the full impact on each organisation of Covid-19”.

Spelthorne receives 90% of commercial rent despite Covid disruption
Public Finance | 26 May 202Spelthorne Borough Council has received 90% of its March quarter rent due on its commercial assets, despite the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The council has gained attention over recent years for its investment strategy, which relies on borrowing significant sums from the Public Works Loan Board to invest in commercial property. In a report on its economic response to the pandemic, the council said of the 10% outstanding rent, all but 3.6% has been addressed through rent deferral plans agreed between the council and the tenants. The report said that the council’s property portfolio is valued at £1bn, and that the income is critical in funding services and tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. “As a result of our investments, we have improved the financial resilience of and increased service delivery resources in areas such as homelessness and independent living,” the report said. “This has enabled the council to pro-actively and rapidly move in response to COVID-19 to meet the needs of its vulnerable communities without reliance on government funding in advance.”

No bail outs for commercial investments
LocalGov | 22 May 2020
Plans to bail out councils struggling with their finances could vary between authorities - but they will not cover commercial investments, The MJ understands. Councils that have been particularly hard hit by a loss of income – such as those with airports – could get bespoke deals to see them through the crisis, under the proposals being considered by central government. However, those authorities which have lost money due to commercial ventures are unlikely to be bailed out.

Council considers community bond scheme
LocalGov | 20 May 2020
Warrington Borough Council has put forward plans for a Community Municipal Bond (CMB) scheme to help deliver a new solar farm. If approved, the council will issue a CMB to fund up to £10m of the Cirencester project. Members of the public will be able to invest in the scheme via a crowdfunding platform and receive a percentage return on their investment.

Councils call for single supply system for PPE
LocalGov | 22 May 2020
Councils have called for a single system for the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid local government employees being treated as ‘second class workers’. The call comes as the new Amazon-style Clipper system, which aims to provide a central hub for the supply and distribution of PPE to primary and social care providers, continues to be delayed beyond its original April 6 launch date. A Local Government Association report said the national Clipper system had been ‘too slow to come on stream,’ forcing providers to face inflated costs and shoddy equipment.

Back to top



Place & Growth

Managing disrepair during lockdown

For social landlords COVID-19 has brought with it many new challenges, particularly in respect of carrying out repairs and maintenance to tenanted homes, with the need to balance their duty to provide support to tenants, with their statutory and contractual obligations as a landowner and employer.

With the Minister of State for Housing sending a letter to all social housing residents in England stating ‘As we start to ease lockdown measures, landlords should be able to carry out routine as well as essential repairs for most households’, social landlord’s should expect to see an increase in correspondence requesting that works are now carried out. This presents a new challenge to social landlords, and they should now look to adapt their response to dealing with routine repairs, and risk assessments should be carried out when determining whether routine repair requests can be completed safely, and in accordance with relevant guidance.

Social landlords are now actively encouraged to undertake risk assessments for each repair request and ensure their record-keeping in relation to such assessment is clear and robust. In addition, social landlords are advised to have appropriate policies and procedures in place to assist with the risk assessment.

Many social landlords have to deal with legal claims from tenants seeking damages for disrepair. In the current climate, it is likely that some tenants will seek to argue that their landlords did not undertake works quickly enough, when they could have been undertaken earlier in a COVID-Secure manner. An important part of the landlord’s defence will be to evidence that the works were carefully considered as part of the risk assessment process, and that it was correctly concluded that the works could not be done safely at the time.

Our national Housing Management team continues to track COVID-19 developments closely and we continue to support our clients as they navigate a rapidly-evolving operating environment. If you would like advice or to discuss any of these issues with us, please feel free to contact a member of our team.


Publications & Guidance

New powers for councils to keep cyclists safe
Department for Transport | 10 June 2020
Local authorities will be given new tools to support cyclists to create a greener and more resilient transport network. Today’s announcement is the latest measure from the government to develop a greener, healthier and more resilient transport network in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus: A ban on evictions and help for rough sleepers
House of Commons Library | 9 June 2020
This briefing paper explains measures the Government has put in place during the coronavirus outbreak to assist households to retain their homes and to enable local authorities to tackle the specific challenges faced by rough sleepers. The paper is being updated regularly to take account of new developments.

Social housing sector continues adapting to impact of coronavirus
Regulator of Social Housing | 9 June 2020
Results of the regulator's second survey of housing associations and local authorities on how they are coping with the coronavirus pandemic. The social housing sector is generally reporting that it is continuing to maintain service delivery for emergency repairs and key health and safety checks, and that some of the challenges that it is facing have begun to ease. Providers report that almost all emergency repairs are being completed, but challenges with access to properties and the reduced reporting of repairs mean that backlogs of routine repairs and some safety checks continue to rise. Coronavirus Operational Response Survey results.

Ban on evictions extended by two months to further protect renters
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local government | 5 June 2020
Renters across England and Wales will receive greater protection after the government extended the suspension of new evictions until 23 August. The extension, announced by the Housing Secretary, takes the moratorium on evictions to a total of 5 months to ensure that renters continue to have certainty and security. Local Government Association response.

Regulator updates guidance on Value for Money metrics
Regulator of Social Housing | 4 June 2020
The Regulator of Social Housing has updated the technical guidance for the Value for Money metrics that sets out how registered providers of social housing should calculate the metrics for inclusion in their annual accounts. The update reflects minor changes that have been made to the 2020 FVA template – the electronic accounts regulatory return – and also includes an additional note for small providers to help them calculate the metrics as they are not required to submit an FVA.

Local Delivery: protecting social infrastructure
Localis | 3 June 2020
Physical assets act as centres in community life - be they local businesses, commons or high streets serving as economic or social anchors. Individually or collectively, these assets are hubs providing vital social infrastructure to support their local communities. Local Delivery looks at how communities have adapted and protected their social infrastructure in the face of an often hostile and ever-shifting political-economic landscape. Not only has the number of community-owned hubs increased over the past decade, they have also diversified away from the classic social roles of parks or community centres and toward more innovative varieties, as a response to specific area need. The report provides some case study examples of communities and councils working together to reclaim, protect and invest in social infrastructure, as well as providing some recommendations for how both central government and local authorities can make the process easier and more equitable. Executive summary.

New guidance to help parks in England reopen
Local Government Association | 3 June 2020
The LGA has collaborated on a new guide to help councils and other park managers in England safely reopen urban and country parks, gardens and wider green spaces. Parks have faced a range of specific challenges in remaining open while ensuring public safety as a result of coronavirus. As facilities in parks begin to reopen under the Government’s ‘roadmap’ to recovery, these challenges are set to continue.  The LGA has worked with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Trust, APSE, the Midlands Parks Forum and parks practitioners to produce the Managing Parks during COVID-19 Guide, which brings together the latest advice available to help managers of green spaces safely reopen them to the public as lockdown eases. It includes the most recent guidance on managing site infrastructure, social distancing and visitor numbers, to help park managers ensure that their teams, volunteers and visitors are safe and that government standards and customer expectations are met.

COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities: updated guidance
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local government | 1 June 2020
Non-statutory guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities in the private and social rented sectors in the context of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Guidance updated to reflect amended regulations and changes to wider government and public health advice.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation: updated guidance
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport | 1 June 2020
Guidance for the public, providers of outdoor sport facilities, elite athletes, personal trainers and coaches on the phased return of sport and recreation. Updated guidance for the public, personal trainers, coaches and provider of an outdoor sport facilities.

Coronavirus: A ban on evictions and help for rough sleepers
House of Commons Library | 29 May 2020
This briefing paper explains measures the Government has put in place during the coronavirus outbreak to assist households to retain their homes and to enable local authorities to tackle the specific challenges faced by rough sleepers. The paper is being updated regularly to take account of new developments.

Government to publish code of practice with commercial sector in boost to high street
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 29 May 2020
High street businesses and landlords are set to benefit from a new code of practice, to provide them with clarity and reassurance over rent payments. A working group has been established by the government with the commercial rental sector to develop a code which encourages fair and transparent discussions between landlords and tenants over rental payments during the coronavirus pandemic and guidance on rent arrear payments and treatment of sub-letter and suppliers. This will enable collaboration and cooperation within the sector and help ensure no one part of the chain shoulders the full burden of payment.

The group will also seek to involve wider business input through its sector members to ensure a greater number are consulted and able to share their views.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): compulsory purchase guidance: updated guidance
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 27 May 2020
In response to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), MHCLG has published guidance for acquiring authorities on compulsory purchase matters. Added section on 'Making documents available for inspection'

New £1bn building safety fund to remove dangerous cladding from high rise buildings
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 26 May 2020
New fund will meet the cost for unsafe non-ACM cladding on residential buildings that are 18 metres and over and do not comply with building regulations.

£50m boost to support the recovery of our high streets
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 24 May 2020
A new £50m fund for councils to support their local high streets get safely back to business was announced by High Streets Minister Simon Clarke. To prepare for the reopening of non-essential retail, the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to kick-start local economies. It will also support a range of practical safety measures including new signs, street markings and temporary barriers. This will help businesses get ready for when they can begin trading safely, not only in high streets and town and city centres, but also in other public spaces like beachfronts and promenades. The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will help councils in England introduce a range of safety measures in a move to get people back to work and customers back to the shops.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): letter to social housing residents
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 18 May 2020
Letter from the Minister of Housing setting out the measures that are in place to support social housing residents during the next phase towards reopening society.



Majority of pavements are too narrow for social distancing, analysis reveals
LocalGov | 5 June 2020
A new map has revealed that 70% of pavements are not wide enough for social distancing. The spatial analysis by Esri UK shows that only 30% of pavements across the UK are at least three metres side. A third (34%) are less than two metres wide, according to the data. The map is being offered for free to local authorities to help them adapt their infrastructure to make walker safer for the public.

Homes England agrees funding packages worth £300m to accelerate delivery of 20,000 London homes
Homes England | 3 June 2020
Homes England, the government’s housing agency, has agreed funding packages totaling £309m to accelerate construction at three major London housing developments. The three schemes, in Brent Cross, Silvertown and Barking Riverside, have a total capacity for up to 20,000 new homes. The loan funding, from the government’s £4.5bn Home Building Fund, will enable the schemes to invest in infrastructure necessary to speed up the construction of thousands of new homes in the capital.  

Major review to begin around how Council-owned social housing is managed in the city
Manchester City Council | 2 June 2020
The way council-owned social homes are managed in the city will be reviewed to ensure high standards are met amid a fast-changing housing sector. Council-owned social housing in the city is predominantly managed by Northwards Housing - an arm’s length management organisation (ALMO) - which looks after around 13,000 Council homes in the city. The most recent review was undertaken in 2016 as a due diligence exercise. This iteration will undertake an in-depth business case review of the ALMO model, looking at management standards of the Council-owned properties, value for money to the Council for the service received, and will also ask for input from residents.

Compulsory purchase in the time of coronavirus
Local Government Lawyer | 1 June 2020
Simon Randle, Vivienne Sedgley and Katharine Elliott analyse recent government guidance on compulsory purchase orders during the pandemic. On 13 May 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published guidance on compulsory purchase matters, with a further update provided on 27 May 2020. The guidance is aimed at acquiring authorities. However, it is equally important for those on the other side to know the changing expectations. The most notable change is in respect of forthcoming Compulsory Purchase Orders (‘CPOs’). This article provides a summary of and commentary on the latest guidance.

Council-owned housing company set for approval
LocalGov | 2 June 2020
Manchester City Council is set to approve plans for a new housing development company to deliver at least 500 new homes every year. The council has already agreed the proposal in principle and a report outlining the model for the company will be considered in the coming months. The company will deliver up to 2,000 affordable and market homes by 2025.

More 'age-appropriate' homes needed in the UK, says report
The Guardian | 2 June 2020
The key to unlocking the UK’s housing crisis lies in reversing decades of underinvestment in purpose-built housing for older people, according to new research published on Wednesday. The report, titled Too little, Too late? Housing for an ageing population, by the Cass Business School, the Association of Retirement Community Operators and the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation, said investing in homes for the elderly would encourage downsizing and free up family homes. Local Government Association response.

Homes England to invest £61m for 6,500 new homes in Cambridgeshire
LocalGov | 29 May 2020
Homes England has agreed to invest £61m with developer Urban&Civic to deliver 6,500 new homes at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire. The loan from the Government’s housing agency will fund key strategic infrastructure at the site to open up the first phase of the development. The scheme will also deliver five schools as well as commercial, retail, leisure and community facilities.

Government backs away from pledge to remove Grenfell-style cladding from high-rise buildings by June
The Independent | 18 May 2020
The government has backed away from its pledge to have Grenfell-style cladding removed from tall buildings by next month, with the dangerous material remaining on hundreds of buildings. In July last year, James Brokenshire, then communities secretary, said in a written statement he expected all remediation work to be finished by June 2020 and warned building owners should “expect enforced action” if they did not meet the deadline. However, some 307 high-rise towers are still awaiting the completion of remediation work as of the end of April, while 42 buildings have been stripped of the dangerous cladding, according to government figures.

Community investment bond ‘builds engagement’ with residents
Room151 | 6 May 2020
West Berkshire Council has become the first local authority to innovate using a community municipal bond. Joseph Holmes describes the reason why and the work that lay behind the launch.



Court of Appeal says coronavirus stay also covers appeals against possession orders
Local Government Lawyer | 28 May 2020
The suspension of possession proceedings due to the COVID-19 outbreak applies to appeals as well as new cases, the Court of Appeal has ruled. In London Borough of Hackney v Okoro [2020] EWCA Civ 681 Sir Geoffrey Vos, chancellor of the High Court, said the ruling - in a case involving resident Kevin Okoro and the London Borough of Hackney - meant “this and other appeals against possession orders will not be able to proceed…whilst the stay remains in force”. The case concerned whether the automatic stay imposed by PD51Z applied to appeals from possession orders in progress when the stay began.

Back to top



Governance & Reorganisation

Code of conduct consultation – closure 17 August

The long awaited draft LGA model Code of Conduct for Members has been published for consultation, with the LGA being particularly interested in feedback as to whether it “stands up to the new ways of working that have been introduced and gives enough of a steer on social media and online activity”. On a first read there is much that will be familiar to those who remember the pre Localism Act 2011 regime (both Code and Guidance), and indeed many local authorities have already adopted Codes of Conduct which reflect the previous Code. It will be interesting to see what local authorities make of it and how much the content changes following consultation.

Are hybrid meetings unlawful?

The issue of hybrid local authority meetings (involving both remote and physical attendance) is also under discussion given the sporadic lifting of lockdown measures. LLG and ADSO have released a joint briefing on the legality of holding such meetings, concluding that at this time (whilst acknowledging the pace at which the situation is changing), holding hybrid meetings would not be “reasonably necessary” for work purposes and is therefore unlawful. They acknowledge that it is a matter for each authority to determine whether the threshold of reasonable necessity is met, and we would add to this that there may indeed be specific circumstances which do meet the threshold test and therefore warrant hybrid meetings, but much depends on circumstances specific to each authority.


Publications & Guidance

Addressing cultural and governance failings in local authorities: lessons from recent interventions
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 15 June 2020
Based on experiences of supporting and, sometimes, intervening in local authorities experiencing difficulties, it has become clear that culture and governance at a local authority is key to its success or failure.

This guide sets out what lessons can be learned about culture and governance and how to improve it from the experience of statutory and non-statutory interventions at local authorities since 2010.

LLG ADSO Joint Brief on Hybrid Meetings (Membership of LLG or ADSO required to access brief)
Lawyers in Local Government and the Association of Democratic Services Officers | 13 June 2020
The LLG and ADSO have issued a joint briefing to address the question of local authority hybrid meetings in light of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions imposed by the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (and subsequent amendments).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): ministerial direction for early payment of grants
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 12 June 2020
Letters authorising the early release of 2 grants to local authorities totalling £3.4bn to allow them to act on the government’s recent announcements to tackle Covid-19.

£63m for local authorities to assist those struggling to afford food and other essentials
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 11 June 2020
An additional £63m has been confirmed by government today to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus.

Local government in England: structures
House of Commons Library | 8 June 2020
This Briefing note contains basic details of the structure of local government (counties, districts and unitary authorities); the electoral system, ward structures, and the franchise; the divisions of functions between local authorities; and the process for changing local government boundaries and structures.

Council loan repayments delay needed amid coronavirus financial crisis
Local Government Association | 5 June 2020
Councils need access to cheaper short-term loans with delayed repayments to help them tackle the cash flow problems threatening their efforts to lead communities through the immediate COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020: factsheets
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 1 June 2020
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy announced the government’s intention to introduce legislation to reform the insolvency and corporate governance framework in light of the COVID emergency on 28 March. The government previously consulted on changes to the corporate insolvency regime and announced plans to introduce new insolvency restructuring procedures in August 2018. This Bill will implement these reforms together with temporary measures to support continued trading through the crisis. The factsheets provide an explanation of each of the measures in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020.

Hybrid systems for meetings: a cause for concern?
Centre for Public Scrutiny | 29 May 2020
Remote meetings are now up and running everywhere; scrutiny meetings are beginning again in many places and council AGMs are taking place too. But at some point – perhaps later this year – more people will start to return to work, and more councillors will be able to meet physically. At the same time, some people may not be able to do. This raises the prospect of “hybrid” meetings – those where a small number of councillors may be present in a committee room (potentially alongside officers) which a few also joining remotely. It also raises the prospect of these hybrid meetings being the norm until well into 2021.

Scrutiny Improvement Reviews: a reflection on the first year
Centre for Public Scrutiny | 28 May 2020
A year ago, Government finally published the long-awaited statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny in local government. The CfPS followed that up with a “good scrutiny guide” and a “scrutiny improvement review” product – a health check for local authority scrutiny. It seems like a good time to pause and reflect on some of the common themes emerging from these exercises, and to see if any common lessons themes emerge. In particular, to understand whether there are any obvious lessons for councils grappling with the governance and scrutiny implications of the pandemic response.

Code of conduct consultation 2020
Local Government Association | 28 May 2020
The LGA has committed to reviewing the current model member code of conduct, as recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report into Local Government Ethical Standards. The LGA consultation draft model member code of conduct is the result of this initial work. It is the intention to create additional guidance, working examples and explanatory text. We very much welcome comment on the consultation draft. We would particularly like to know if it stands up to the new ways of working that have been introduced and gives enough of a steer on social media and online activity. The consultation on the draft member code of conduct will run for 10 weeks from Monday 8 June until Monday 17 August. We hope this will provide officers and members with enough time to reflect on the draft model member code of conduct and provide the LGA with feedback whilst they continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

To facilitate the consultation we have produced an online consultation questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed for both members and officers.

Covid costs now at £1.6bn and rising says Core Cities UK
Core Cities UK | 25 May 2020
In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP, Core Cities UK calls for more financial support, adding that cities and city regions are key to the country’s economic recovery.

The group wants an urgent funding package aimed at councils in urban areas, arguing that they face particular challenge around issues like poverty and homelessness. And the letter calls for Government to use the expertise of city leaders, honed during the 2008/9 financial crisis, to help lead cities out of lockdown and into recovery.

HM Treasury Public Works Loans Board, future lending terms, response to the consultation from Local Government Association
Local Government Association | 21 May 2020
The consultation paper was issued before strict measures were implemented to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, the financial environment for local government has changed so profoundly that we cannot overlook the issue. We call upon HMT to implement these two schemes quickly and urgently to help councils through the current crisis. This needs to be done as soon as possible and not wait for the outcome of the review or for the Comprehensive Spending Review. Full response.

Public Works Loan Board: Future lending terms consultation: updated deadline
HM Treasury | 15 May 2020
The government is seeking views from local authorities and other stakeholders on the lending terms of the Public Works Loan Board. Consultation document. Deadline extended until 11:59pm on 31 July 2020.

COVID-19: a leadership workbook for cabinet members
Local Government Association | 14 May 2020
A councillor’s workbook on the role of leaders and cabinet members during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new workbook contains transferable learning acquired from the experience of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as new skills and ways of working which will resonate with whatever ‘new normal’ the country and local government finds itself in.

Councillor guidance on emergency response structures
Local Government Association | 14 May 2020
This short note has been produced as a supplement to the LGA councillor guidance on the COVID-19 outbreak and sits alongside our new COVID-19 workbook for leaders and cabinet members.

Key questions and issues for finance portfolio holders during the COVID-19 pandemic
Local Government Association | 14 May 2020
This paper seeks to outline and discuss key strategic issues that elected members, particularly those in finance and wider leadership positions, should consider.



CIPFA issues temporary s114 guidance
LocalGov | 11 June 2020
Council finance chiefs have been given new guidelines for dealing with financial collapse during the coronavirus crisis. Under normal circumstances, chief financial officers would issue s114 notices to freeze spending to give them time to create a budget plan. However, halting expenditure during the pandemic could create problems responding to the crisis. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has now issued temporary guidance. It calls for chief finance officers to inform the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) of financial concerns as early as possible at the same time as warning the council cabinet and auditor.

Councils will need £6bn to balance budgets this year, says LGA
LocalGov | 29 May 2020
Councils will need another £6bn to cover the costs and lost income caused by the coronavirus crisis, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned. The LGA analysis of May’s returns shows that the emergency funding provided by Government has fully met the extra Covid-19 costs and losses of income over the past three months. However, councils could need as much as £6bn more to cover the costs of coping with the coronavirus pandemic during this financial year. Nearly two-thirds of this funding would be needed to cover lost income, while the rest would be needed to cover extra cost pressures as a result of the pandemic.

Luton council draws up emergency cuts to avoid bankruptcy
The Guardian | 24 May 2020
Luton borough council is drawing up drastic cuts to services to avoid bankruptcy after after a coronavirus-related collapse in passenger numbers at Luton airport blew an estimated £49m hole in its budget. The council described the impact of the projected drop in revenue from the airport as a “nightmare scenario”. As the owner of the airport, it was receiving a £20m annual dividend, which has helped it maintain local services despite £130m of funding cuts since 2010. It has been forced to plan a July emergency budget that will cut £22m, or 16% of its annual spending. “The airport has held back the tide of austerity in Luton, but coronavirus has broken those defences,” said Andy Malcolm, the council’s cabinet member for finance. “We are now going to feel the full force of austerity in council services.”

Back to top



Contract Management

Time to review your contract portfolio PN04

This month the Cabinet Office published Procurement Policy Note 04/20 (Recovery and Transition from COCID-19) was issued. This PPN is intended to cover the period of 1st July (when the relief period under PPN 02/20 is set to end) until 31st October 2020.

PPN 04/20 updates and builds on the provision of PPN 02/20. It requires public bodies to review their contract portfolio (including where providing contractual relief due to COVID-19) and if appropriate to maintain delivery of critical services either continue or commence measures in line with PN 02/20.

The guidance identifies that public bodies should work in partnership with suppliers to:

  • Develop transition plans to exit from any relief as soon as reasonably possible
  • Agree contract variations if operational requirements have changed significantly
  • Ensure contracts are still relevant and sustainable and deliver value for money over the medium to long term
  • Ensure suppliers are paid as quickly as possible on receipt of invoices or in accordance with pre-agreed milestone dates, to maintain cash flow and protect jobs.

PPN04/20 reiterates that suppliers are not automatically entitled to payment or other relief under the PPN. Supplier relief payments are not intended to be an economic response to the COVID-19 emergency and are not intended to be a supplement or duplicate the wider business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses. When considering the case for providing supplier relief, any public authority should take account of and ensure suppliers are sighted on, the other sources of government support that are available. The PPN continues to focus on the continuation of payments to suppliers.

The PPN identifies that where public authorities have made continuity and retention payments for contracts that have been interrupted or provided other relief, they should now work with suppliers to develop a transition plan ready to be implemented as soon as possible (and in any event before the end of October 2020). This needs to be agreed by both parties but should include:

  • A planned exit date for when relief will end;
  • Delivery dates for goods or services if advanced payments have been made
  • Process for reconciling payments against costs set out in the model interim payment terms
  • Assessment of costs associated with implementing guidance in relation to delivering the contract; and
  • An assessment as to whether, as a result of COVID-19, the contract is still operationally relevant and viable and, if not, proposals for variation or termination. The Outsourcing Playbook sets out how contracting authorities should constructively engage with suppliers (for further information on the Outsourcing Playbook see our legal update Procurement: Procurement Policy Note PPN 05/20 and the links below).


Publications & Guidance

Procurement Policy Note 05/20: The Outsourcing Playbook V2.0

Cabinet Office | 10 June 2020

This Procurement Policy Note sets out guidance on the updated Outsourcing Playbook and the series of new guidance notes which have been developed to improve how the Government delivers public services. The Outsourcing Playbook sets out how departments should approach outsourcing projects and its application is assured through Cabinet Office controls. It outlines the Government’s expectations in how contracting authorities and suppliers engage with each other.

The Outsourcing Playbook V2.0
Cabinet Office | 10 June 2020
The Outsourcing Playbook captures best practice from across government and highlights where different approaches and new behaviours are required. These are captured within 11 key new policies that all central departments are expected to follow. The Outsourcing Playbook V2.0 includes new or updated guidance notes: Delivery Model Assessments, Should Cost Modelling, Testing and Piloting Services, Risk Allocation and Pricing Approaches, Competitive Dialogue and Competitive Procedure with Negotiation, Bid Evaluation Guidance, Assessing and Monitoring the Economic and Financial Standing of Suppliers Guidance Note, Financial Viability Risk Assessment Tool 2.0

Local government procurement: fraud and corruption risk review
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 8 June 2020
A review into the risks of fraud and corruption in local government procurement as committed to in the UK anti-corruption strategy 2017 to 2022. This report details the findings of a review into procurement fraud and corruption risks in local government procurement, as committed to in the UK anti-corruption strategy.

The report includes case studies highlighting where fraud and corruption incidents have taken place and also includes best practice examples for mitigating these risks. The case studies and good practice examples were provided by local authorities from their own experience. The report concludes with suggested activities to improve the response to fraud and corruption risks for local government. Press release and LGA response.

Managing PFI assets and services as contracts end
National Audit Office | 5 June 2020
Public sector bodies risk underestimating the time, resources and complexity involved in managing the end of PFI contracts. With many contracts coming to an end from 2025, there is danger that important infrastructure could return to the public sector in an unsatisfactory condition and services could be disrupted unless a more consistent and strategic approach is taken, according to today’s report by the National Audit Office (NAO). The report draws on a survey of public authorities managing PFI contracts, who are largely local bodies such as NHS trusts and local authorities. It has found that government does not take a strategic or consistent approach to managing PFI contracts as they end. This risks a poor outcome for the taxpayer from the expiry negotiations with the private sector.

Government departments should encourage authorities to prepare for contract expiry as early as possible and develop a contract expiry plan that identifies all the critical tasks and obstacles that may prevent a successful exit. Departments should provide direct financial support to authorities where required, helping to fund dispute resolutions and hire additional staff. Departments and the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) should also help build sector specific expertise, and a range of tools, including specialist advice and guidance documents. The IPA should assess the value to taxpayers of providing authorities with access to a centralised pool of internal resources, such as lawyers and surveyors, during negotiations. It should also develop a consistent approach to resolving legal disputes, and an investor strategy which manages the relationship with private sector stakeholders across all PFI contracts. Full report.

Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19: updated guidance
Cabinet Office | 19 May 2020
This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak. Updated 'PPN 02/20: Additional guidance, FAQs and model terms for construction' to newer version.



School Facility Management Ltd and others v Governing Body of Christ the King College and another [2020] EWHC 1118 (Comm)
It was ultra vires for a college to enter into a contract for the provision of a Sixth Form building. Foxton J accepted the argument of the college and council that the contract was a finance lease rather than an operating lease, and therefore a form of borrowing. See also comment from Local Government Lawyer.

Dayah v Partners of Bushloe Surgery [2020] EWHC 1375 (QBD)
The court held that a contract providing for payment of a share of the running costs of a medical centre was not frustrated by the cancellation of one of the three GP partnerships’ registration to practice as a health service provider. Cases relating to the doctrine of frustration are very few in number and this case explores whether the exercise of a statutory function had the effect of rendering the performance of a contract illegal.



Public sector awards £1.7bn in Covid-19 response contracts
Tussell | 4 June 2020
UK public sector procurement is showing tentative signs of recovery, with 18% more opportunities published in May than the month prior. The government has also started to reveal the extent of its Covid-19 response procurements, publishing nearly 400 contracts worth over £1.7bn. This report looks at what the public sector has been buying to support its response to the pandemic. This edition, focuses on the companies that are supporting the government’s response to the crisis.

Back to top



Disputes & Regulatory Support

Fraud and corruption in local government procurement

On 8 June 2018, following a review on the risks posed by corruption and fraud associated with the procurement and commission of goods, works and services by local government, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has published a report on its findings.

Each year councils in England spend approximately £55bn on goods, works and services. Given that fraud is by its nature concealed, it is difficult to quantify the resulting losses, but it is estimated that fraud and error can account for annual losses to local government in the region of £275m and £2.75bn (or 0.5% and 5% of expenditure).

The Report offers councils anonymous case studies and practical examples of how internal processes can be strengthened and prevention measures implemented to combat fraud and corruption, and includes the following key findings:

  • When it comes to detecting, preventing and responding to procurement fraud and corruption, an organisation’s culture plays a fundamental role
  • Because of the high level of local government spending allocated to procurement, it is an area vulnerable to fraud and corruption. That being so, more attention is required at all levels to identify and report cases
  • Contract management is an at risk area that needs strengthening. Weaknesses within contract management can leave councils open to the risks of fraud and corruption by staff and external parties, through overcharging, invoicing for work that is not carried out and falsification of performance reports. Whereas previous efforts to combat fraud and corruption have tended to focus on the period between the invitation to tender and the contract award, an increased focus is needed on the phases before the tendering process and after the contract is awarded.

The Report concludes by recommending establishing a “Counter Fraud and Anti-Corruption culture within organisations that sets the right “tone from the top”, encourages a risk-aware and compliant culture and supports both collaborative working and whistleblowing”. We regularly advise councils on the issues raised in this report, so please do get in touch for further detail.


Publications & Guidance

Judicial Review: Time for change?
House of Lords Library | 8 June 2020
The judicial review process may be subject to change during this parliamentary session. In December 2019, the Conservative Party’s election manifesto committed to an examination of judicial review. This followed several high-profile judicial review cases that saw the Supreme Court rule against the Government on decisions that it had taken on the UK’s departure from the European Union. The Conservative Party’s manifesto for the December 2019 election committed to a broad review of the UK constitution. As part of this commitment, the Conservative Party said it would “ensur[e] that [judicial review] is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays”. This follows previous governments’ calls to change the judicial review process.



Council nets permission for High Court challenge to decision by inspector over Local Plan and
Local Government Lawyer | 2 June 2020
The High Court has granted Sevenoaks District Council permission to bring judicial review proceedings on all grounds over a decision of the planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State to examine the Sevenoaks District Local Plan.



High Court judge hands down ruling on secure flexible tenancies and possession during fixed term
Local Government Lawyer | 4 June 2020
A landlord cannot determine a flexible tenancy prior to the expiry of its fixed term without a forfeiture clause even in the event of default by the tenant, the High Court has ruled. In Croydon London Borough Council v Kalonga [2020] EWHC 1353 (QB) Mrs Justice Tipples ruled that Croydon could not seek possession for rent arrears and alleged anti-social behaviour without having such a clause.

The council had in August 2017 served notice seeking termination of the tenancy agreement and recovery of possession and issued a claim in the Central London County Court. The claim was made on grounds 1 and 2 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1985, comprising rent arrears of £703.04 and the alleged anti-social behaviour.

Council loses Court of Appeal battle over personal injury claim following tree root trip in park
Local Government Lawyer | 2 June 2020
The Court of Appeal has found that a council was liable for an injury suffered by a claimant when she tripped on a tree root on a path constructed in a park by one of its predecessor authorities. In Barlow v Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council [2020] EWCA Civ 696, the claimant sought to uphold the decision in her favour, adding an alternative ground that the path was probably dedicated before 1949 such that the path was highway maintainable at public expense.

Back to top



Resource Library

All Bevan Brittan articles

UK Government publishes advice on responsible contractual behaviour

Landlords beware - check before saying “yes”!

Asbestos disease - Limitation Gregory v HJ Haynes Limited, April 2020



Public Procurement Podcast – FAQ 3 Accelerated procedures

Public Procurement Podcast – FAQ 4 Direct award under PCR 32 (2)(c) - extreme urgency case


Back to top




Webinar - Contract Management in the wake of COVID-19
Thursday 9 July, 11:30 – 12:30    

Back to top

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences. For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytics cookies

We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collection and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone.
For more information on how these cookies work, please see our Cookies page.