LA Spotlight

Election time!

We are almost two months into 2022 and the year promises to be as busy as ever for local government.  In amongst the bustle of delivering business as usual and the continued pandemic response, there have been a number of key announcements such as the financial settlement and two White Papers (Levelling Up and Health & Social Care Integration).  Keep an eye out for future content on the White Papers.

However, in this Spotlight we are considering the upcoming local government elections.  It remains a time of political uncertainty and that is likely to be felt at these elections – whether that is political parties losing control of authorities to other parties (including no overall control) or changes within administration parties due to new membership and leadership.

Aside from the need to consider whether a change in control/leadership might result in changes to the detail of existing strategies and plans, it is worthwhile considering whether these elections might herald a greater change in political direction.  For example:

  • Could there be a greater desire to insource delivery rather than outsource to the private sector?  That brings with it a number of practical, operational, people, capability and resourcing issues to work through.
  • Could we see more of a drive for a community wealth building approach to local economic development and increased collaborative local investment and purchasing?  Do you know what the “Preston model” is?

Lots to discuss in 2022. If you believe it would be useful for us to host a webinar or other event(s) around these issues please get in touch.

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Net Zero

Government Publishes the UK’s Third Five-year Climate Change Risk Assessment

On 17 January, the Government published the UK’s third five-year Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3) which outlines the UK Government and devolved administrations’ position on the key climate change risks and opportunities that the UK faces today. It recognises the unprecedented challenge of ensuring the UK is resilient to climate change and setting out the work already underway to meet that challenge.

The five-year assessment, delivered under section 56 of the Climate Change Act 2008 and following close work with the Climate Change Committee (CCC), identifies the risks that climate change poses to multiple parts of our society and economy. The risk assessment considers sixty-one UK-wide climate risks and opportunities and prioritises the following eight risk areas for action in the next two years:

  • Risks to the viability and diversity of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species from multiple hazards
  • Risks to soil health from increased flooding and drought
  • Risks to natural carbon stores and sequestration from multiple hazards
  • Risks to crops, livestock and commercial trees from multiple climate hazards
  • Risks to supply of food, goods and vital services due to climate-related collapse of supply chains and distribution networks
  • Risks to people and the economy from climate-related failure of the power system
  • Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings
  • Multiple risks to the UK from climate change impacts overseas.

For these eight individual risks, economic damages could exceed £1bn per year each by 2050 with a temperature rise of 2°C, with the cost of climate change to the UK rising to at least 1% of GDP by 2045.

Work that has been undertaken by the UK government and the devolved administrations to adapt to climate include:

  • Investing a record £5.2bn to build 2,000 new flood defences by 2027
  • Continuing work on the Green Finance Strategy to align private sector financial flows with clean, environmentally sustainable and resilient growth
  • Increasing the total spend from the Nature for Climate Fund on peat restoration, woodland creation and management to more than £750m by 2025
  • Ensuring that climate science and research, such as the UK Climate Projections 2018, are fully integrated into planning and decision making, including on major infrastructure.

If you have any questions about the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022 please get in touch with any member of our dedicated team of Energy specialists, including Nathan Bradberry.


The Environment Act 2021 (Commencement No. 2 and Saving Provision) Regulations 2022

These Regulations were made on 17 January 2022 to bring into force various provisions of the Environment Act 2021 (EA 2021) on the following dates: 24 January 2022, 1 April 2022, 1 May 2022 and 30 September 2022.

The Limited Liability Partnerships (Climate-related Financial Disclosure) Regulations 2022

Provisions are made to amend the Limited Liability Partnerships (Accounts and Audit) (Application of Companies Act 2006) Regulations 2008, to make changes to the reporting requirements on certain limited liability partnerships (LLPs) to require them to produce additional disclosures in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures published in 2017. The Regulations come into force on 6 April 2022.

Publications & Guidance

Net zero places: A community-powered response to the climate crisis

The Progressive Policy Think Tank | 16 February 2022

The transition to net zero will have a significant impact on everyone’s lives. From how we heat our homes to how we travel, few aspects will be unchanged. Despite this, too often net zero policy is designed from above by policymakers and enacted upon people and places.  This top-down policy approach risks exacerbating existing inequalities and locking in a sense that policy is done to people, not with people. In contrast, by working with communities, this research seeks to generate visions for what net zero places could look like. It aims to understand locally-led and community-inspired visions for a net zero future. 

Government unveils plans to crack down on waste

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 21 January 2021

A crackdown on waste criminals has been unveiled by Environment Minister Jo Churchill today as part of fresh plans to reform the waste industry. Proposals set out in two new consultations today will clamp down on waste crime and support people and businesses to manage waste correctly. The reform of waste industry will see increased background checks for firms who move or trade waste, as well as making it easier for regulators across the UK take action against rogue operators.

Green Jobs: Government Response to the Committee’s Third Report

Environmental Audit Committee | 20 January 2022  

The Government welcomes the Environmental Audit Committee’s focus on green jobs and skills as the UK moves to a low carbon, high skill economy, and the Committee’s latest report on Green Jobs published on 25 October 2021. The UK is already a world leader in the green economy. Over the last 30 years we have cut our emissions faster than any nation in the G7 whilst growing our economy by 78%. There are currently 410,000 people working in the low carbon economy. However, our ambition is to go much further.

Mayor announces bold plans to secure a green, clean future for London

London City Hall | 18 January 2022

A new report published today by Element Energy, commissioned by the Mayor of London, sets out the scale of the action required to move London towards a greener future and net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The new analysis shows that more action will be required by City Hall, particularly around reducing vehicle use in London, but that the Mayor does not have the funding or powers to deliver everything that’s required alone. Sadiq will call the report a stark wake-up call for the Government on the need to provide much greater support to help London reach net-zero by 2030 and help the UK reach our national target, announced before COP26.  

Government publishes UK’s Third Climate Change Risk Assessment

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 17 January 2022

The Government has today (Monday 17 January) published the UK’s Third Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3), recognising the unprecedented challenge of ensuring the UK is resilient to climate change and setting out the work already underway to meet that challenge. The five-year assessment, delivered under the Climate Change Act 2008 and following close work with the Climate Change Committee (CCC), identifies the risks that climate change poses to multiple parts of our society and economy. For eight individual risks, economic damages could exceed £1bn per year each by 2050 with a temperature rise of 2°C, with the cost of climate change to the UK rising to at least 1% of GDP by 2045.

Net zero: agenda 2022

Institute for Government | 13 January 2022

The government’s response to the energy price crisis right will be critical to preserving political and public support for net zero policies. This report sets out seven steps the government needs to take – to ensure momentum on climate change is maintained in 2022 and to build on 2021’s ambitious net zero strategy. The first test the government faces is to show it can help households weather the immediate energy cost crisis without losing track of its net zero commitment. And it also needs to show how it can reconcile its net zero target with its other objectives of providing secure, affordable energy in the longer term. Failure to do this risks fueling discontent on its backbenches and undermining the cross-party political consensus on the need for action for climate change that has existed for 30 years.

Local government and the path to net zero: government response to the Select Committee report

Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities | 13 January 2022

The government welcomes the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee report that was published on 29 October 2021 following its inquiry into local government and the path to net zero. We are grateful to the Committee and all those that provided evidence to it. The government recognises that local authorities play an essential role in driving local climate action. They have significant influence over the key sectors of energy, housing, and transport, reform of which will be essential to achieving net zero. We already work closely with local government and have supported them in this space. We recognise that government must continue this support, and work ever closer with the local tier, to ensure that we are working together to deliver national net zero ambitions.

Closing the UK’s green skills gap

Green Alliance | 11 January 2022

The UK is facing acute skills shortages across the sectors it most urgently needs to decarbonise. By looking at the needs of the future green economy, we find that the government can deliver on both its net zero and levelling up agendas by developing a new green skills programme. The programme envisaged will include practical measures for industry, such as a ‘super skills deduction’ for people as well as machinery, and support for individuals via loans and grants to reduce the risk of retraining. These and other measures will build a workforce fit for the 2030s, filling good quality jobs across the country.


Automotive industry calls for mandated targets to boost EV infrastructure

Local Gov | 16 February 2022

The UK automotive industry has called for mandated targets for the roll-out of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure supported by ring-fenced funding for local authorities. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has published a seven-point plan aimed at boosting the planning and delivery of the UK’s EV infrastructure.

Mayor announces £90 million towards new green bonds

London City Hall | 15 February 2022

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today outlined bold proposals to secure more than £500 million for investing in climate action by issuing green bonds. Sadiq would become the first Mayor of London to issue green bonds in this way and at this level - raising funds for new and existing projects which deliver environmental benefits, and a more sustainable economy. Sadiq’s plans will accelerate London’s push to net-zero by helping to tackle rising energy bills and the climate emergency.

Levelling Up White Paper: Government accused of 'sidelining' net-zero in new plans for regional economies

edie | 2 February 2022

The full White Paper documents were published this afternoon (2 February), after the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) issued a statement and a summary of the White Paper’s 12 key focus areas (called ‘Missions’) this morning. As expected, the statement and summary are headlined by a commitment to deliver system change across the UK, closing economic discrepancies between and within regions. There is also a focus on educational discrepancies and differences in healthcare and crime rates, as well as access to things like high-speed internet and quality housing. Headline commitments include boosting public investment in R&D in the Midlands, North, South West, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by 40% this decade; providing £2.6bn to local authorities and ensuring that each UK region is host to a “globally competitive city”.

One in five UK councils have no climate action plan, campaigners say

The Guardian | 27 January 2022

More than one in five of all councils in the UK have no climate action plan, research shows. In 2019, Theresa May’s government committed the UK to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Since then, hundreds of local authorities have published plans to show how they intend to become carbon neutral. But analysis by the not-for-profit campaigning organisation Climate Emergency UK, shared exclusively with the Guardian, found that of the 409 local authorities across the UK, 84 still did not have climate action plans, while 139 had not committed to reach net zero emissions by a specific date.

Electric car owners face different regional costs when using council-owned chargers

Local Gov | 26 January 2022

Drivers in the South are being charged over a quarter (28%) more to charge their electric cars using council-owned chargers than those in the North, new research has revealed. A freedom of information request by British Gas has uncovered a 'postcode lottery' when it comes to public electric vehicle charging costs. It found that while drivers in the South have access to 1,468 more on-street charging points than their Northern counterparts, they do have to pay more to use them. On average it costs drivers 32p per kWh to recharge in the South, compared to 25p per kWh for people in the North.

Authority to publish carbon ‘budget’ alongside finances

Public Finance | 26 January 2022

Suffolk County Council declared a climate emergency in 2019, and cabinet members believe the “historic” move will help realise their net-zero goals. The authority will record data including the energy used to power buildings, travel by its workers, waste disposal and fuel for public transport and gritters, for example. “This is an historic budget, the first full budget of its kind that the council has ever produced,” said deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and environment Richard Rout. “Becoming a net zero organisation by 2030 is incredibly ambitious, but I’m committed to doing everything we can to realise that vision.”

Manchester councils agree to refer the CAZ back to the Government

AirQualityNews | 20 January 2022

Greater Manchester councils have voted to refer the Clean Air Zone back to the government. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burham tweeted: ‘GM has tried in good faith to make the Government’s legal direction work. However, changes in the vehicle market mean it is impossible to proceed on the current basis without causing real hardship to some of our residents. ‘We remain committed to tackling illegal levels of air pollution in GM as soon as possible. This decision opens up the space for urgent, joint discussions with the Government about potential changes to make the scheme fair for everyone…’

Councils urged to stop using pension funds to invest in factory farming

Local Gov | 20 January 2022

Environmental and animal rights campaigners have called on local authorities to divest money in their pension funds from factory farming. Research by the campaign groups Feedback and World Animal Protection has revealed that UK local authority pension funds hold £238m of investments in industrial livestock companies. These investments are concentrated in 10 local authority pension funds, which hold industrial livestock investments worth £110.6m, with the top investors being West Midlands (£35.9m), Swansea (£12.4m), Strathclyde (£10.3m), Clwyd (£10.3m) and South Yorkshire (£8.9m).

Cornwall Council apology over climate change policy failure

BBC News | 13 January 2022

Officers at Cornwall Council have apologised for not implementing an environmental decision-making policy while assessing plans for a new air service between Newquay and London. The council, which declared a climate emergency in 2021, had decided all projects should be assessed by a climate change "decision-making wheel". Senior officers apologised to a scrutiny committee for the omission. However, they said green concerns were examined.

Council waste worker Covid-19 absences hit record levels

MRW | 13 January 2022

Absence rates among front-line waste workers have reached unprecedented levels, a survey by the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) has revealed. Figures for January found confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases jumped to new high of an average of 4.87% of the workforce, as a result of the omicron variant. Larac said this was “well above what we have seen since September”. Councils across the UK have been struggling to deliver services since the beginning of the year, with many collections having to be cut back. Some councils, such as Conwy County Council, have reported as much as 20% of waste service staff being affected.

UK Government taken to court over Net-Zero Strategy and Heat and Buildings Strategy

edie | 12 January 2022

The UK Government is being taken to court by Friends of the Earth and ClientEarth over its Net-Zero Strategy, with the groups claiming that the policies detailed will not result in the emissions reductions promised under legally binding climate targets. Friends of the Earth on 12 January announced that it is filing papers for a Judicial Review at the High Court over the Net-Zero Strategy, which was published in  October 2021 in preparation for COP26 in Glasgow. The Government has badged the Strategy as a pathway for “transforming every sector of the global economy” in a manner aligned with net-zero by 2050 – a target the UK Government enshrined in law in 2019. However, green groups, trade bodies and MPs have all said that the Strategy left much to be desired and left many questions unanswered on a myriad of topics, including nature and green skills. It was notably lacking a list of time-bound, sector-specific percentage goals for cutting emissions. Friends of the Earth has said it will argue, in court, that the Strategy does not comply with the UK’s 2008 Climate Change Act, which was updated in 2019 to account for net-zero, or with the forthcoming carbon budgets.

Council seeks approval on £39m solar investment

Public Finance | 11 January 2022

report going to an executive committee next week, unveiled two investment options, either purchasing a solar farm in Southern England, or buying energy from a renewable provider under a power purchase agreement. The preferred option would be to buy a solar facility, as it offered better value for money by reducing the cost of electricity, as well as protecting against market volatility, the report said. The report said: “Our feasibility study and business case development work to date demonstrates that the direct purchase of the solar generation asset delivers a stronger net present value than a PPA, although all options demonstrate a positive return versus do nothing.” Last year, the council unveiled plans to investing in a solar farm to help meet its net zero by 2038 pledge, mainly cutting emissions by 7,000 tonnes a year by 2025.

UK community energy leaders say Government has 'abandoned' them, despite net-zero commitment

edie | 10 January 2022

Those leading community energy projects across the UK are urging the Government to provide more support in 2022, after last year's Budgets and Net-Zero Strategy provided little in the way of new funding or regulation. Membership organisation Community Energy England is issuing the call to action to mark the return of Parliament for the new year 2022, ahead of the second reading of the Local Electricity Bill in the House of Commons. Drafted by Power For People and sponsored by Conservative MP David Johnston, the Bill is designed to ensure that Ofgem creates a Right to Local Supply framework. Such a framework would help new and existing projects with setup and running costs.

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Delivering Value

5G network deployments – considerations for local authorities

The Levelling Up White Paper includes calls for nationwide 4G and 5G coverage for the majority of the population by 2030. The roll out of 5G presents legal challenges – but also opportunities – for local authorities.

A network built using 5G technologies has a number of characteristics that will make it valuable to local authorities seeking new revenue streams, as well as providing opportunities to improve services for citizens and attract new businesses.

An option for local authorities deploying 5G is ‘neutral host’ a new model of mobile networks delivery and commercialisation. This is the model that Sunderland City Council has used in its award-winning 5G network. Bevan Brittan advised Sunderland City Council and this approach has been summarised in a helpful paper we have produced with Perform Green.

Neutral Host models

A Neutral Host is where all or part of the mobile network infrastructure access shared service is available as equal access to mobile operators and service providers. 

Public sector assets are made available via commercial arrangement to an organisation, whether a local authority trading company, joint venture, special purpose vehicle, or to a third party network operator, who will operate the network infrastructure. The network capacity can then be leased to anyone for the delivery of enhanced services to generate revenue. 

Local Authorities are in an excellent position to benefit from 5G and concepts of Neutral Host, particularly given localised focus and ownership of street assets and the potential of attracting more business to the area and in turn job creation and prosperity.  It can also reduce or remove costs such as existing WiFi and mobile networks usually borne by local authorities themselves.

Pairing public investment with private sector funds

Despite the undoubted benefits, there are challenges in building and operating a 5G network. The cost of buying and implementing a 5G network is significant. The estimate for a typical regional city to build a network from nothing could be as much as £30m.

Therefore, it is essential to pair public investment with private sector funds and consider, for example, a joint venture model. Careful consideration of procurement regulations and subsidy control will be required when seeking private sector finance alongside a network operator partner. In this context, it is worth noting that there are currently a range of central government grants available for 5G deployment.

Act on the opportunity

It is important to note that time is critical if you are going to benefit. Grant funding opportunities are time constrained. Other private sector organisations are looking to establish 5G networks, so there may be competition. 5G Networks are being rolled out now, but often only covering high value footfall areas as network operators struggle to justify the cost of connecting rural or economically challenged urban locations.

Also, remember the application of the Communications Code which may allow operators access land and to install equipment on street assets for the deployment of telecommunication equipment.  The Code may also mean that local authorities will be unable to provide either itself or a network operator exclusivity in a particular area which could reduce the value of any proposed scheme.  The decision whether to rent or make available space could then be taken away from local authorities who do not act quickly enough.

The Levelling Up White Paper makes it clear how important 5G is going to be in the short to medium term. Time spent by local authorities now planning digital connectivity strategies and their approach to 5G will be time well spent.

For more information on 5G deployments, please contact Richard Lane.

Publications & Guidance

Adult Social Care Funding (England) - House of Commons Library

House of Commons Library | 11 February 2022

This briefing examines the funding pressures affecting publicly funded adult social care services in England.

Health and social care integration: joining up care for people, places and populations

Department of Health and Social Care | 9 February 2022

This white paper sets out measures to make integrated health and social care a universal reality for everyone across England regardless of their condition and of where they live. This white paper is part of the government’s commitment to transform the delivery of care in England following the Prime Minister’s announcement on reforms for health and social care through the Build Back Better: Our Plan for Health and Social Care.

Pushed to the Edge: Life for the Unpaid Carers in the UK

Carers Trust | 9 February 2022

This report draws on the experiences and expertise of these unpaid carers. It helps give voice to unpaid carers who too often are neither seen nor heard by those with the ability to improve their lives and the lives of the people they care for. Throughout the report we have included direct quotes from unpaid carers, which make for powerful reading. At Carers Trust we strongly believe that unpaid carers need to be recognised and thanked. But as a society we need to offer unpaid carers more than mere thanks.

Provisional local government finance settlement 2022 to 2023: consultation outcome

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 7 February 2022

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published the provisional local government finance settlement for 2022/23 on 16 December 2021. The consultation closed on 13 January 2022. The 148 responses received to this consultation have been given full consideration as part of the development of the final local government finance settlement for 2022/23, alongside other representations made during the consultation period. Government is grateful to everyone who took time to respond to the consultation.

Also see: LGA statement on final Local Government Finance Settlement

Local Government Association | 7 February 2022

Research Briefing: Local Government Finance Settlement 2022/23

House of Commons Library | 4 February 2022

This Settlement will provide £14.9bn in funding to English councils. This briefing looks at the changes in local funding and what might happen next.

Thirty-Forth Report - Local Government Finance system: Overview and challenges

Committee of Public Accounts | 2 February 2022

For many years this Committee has raised important concerns about local government financial sustainability and the potential impact on local services. There is a real risk that the much-heralded extra funding in the Spending Review 2021 merely allows local government to stand still rather than allowing it to address the significant service pressures and risks which have built up. Central government funding for local authorities fell in real terms by over 50% between 2010–11 and 2020–21. As funding has fallen demand for key services such as social care has risen with local authorities spending as much as eight pounds out of every ten from their core funding to deliver these services, but even here there is still unmet need. This inevitably puts pressure on the other services people rely on such as planning, cultural, and regulatory services. 

Child sexual exploitation by organised networks Investigation Report

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse | 1 February 2022

In this investigation, the Inquiry considered the sexual exploitation of children by organised networks. Department for Education guidance recognises that child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It is said to occur “where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator”. Please find the press release here: Child sexual exploitation underreported with authorities struggling to keep pace, Inquiry report finds.

Revisiting safeguarding practice

Department of Health and Social Care | 28 January 2022

This briefing is for social workers and other safeguarding practitioners working in adult social care who are involved in safeguarding. It sets out the roles and responsibilities in relation to adult safeguarding in local authorities, including the statutory duties social workers and others with delegated responsibilities are expected to fulfil.

Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021

Treasury Committee | 27 January 2022  

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Care leavers feel they left care too early, Ofsted finds

Ofsted | 19 January 2022

The report, ‘Ready or not: care leavers’ views of preparing to leave care’, brings to light the lack of choice many care leavers experienced: some felt they had to leave care ‘whether they were ready or not’. Local authorities are required to prepare children for leaving care but today’s report finds that care leavers’ experiences of this preparation have been varied, and many were unaware of the support they are entitled to. Statutory guidance requires children in care to be introduced to their personal advisor (PA) from age 16 to support them as they leave care. However, over a quarter did not meet their PA until they were 18 or older, and a fifth of care leavers said they met their PA too late.

Reforming revenues - options for the future financing of local government

Local Government Association | 13 January 2022

The LGA commissioned WPI Economics to carry out a review of the current and alternative sources of local government revenue financing and an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses against the principles set out by the LGA: sufficiency, buoyancy, fairness, efficiency of collection, predictability, transparency and incentive. The report analyses the options for reforming local government revenue financing. These options sit under three headings: The current system and reforming it, making national taxes local and Introducing new local taxes.

Looking back to look forwards: what can we learn from data on the impacts of COVID-19 on councils in 2020–21?

Institute for Fiscal Studies | 11 January 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to substantial increases in councils’ expenditure and falls in their locally generated revenue, especially from sales, fees and charges (SFCs) and commercial activity. Our previous analysis has looked at ex ante measures of English councils’ financial risk and resilience in the context of the pandemic, and forecasts and other rapidly available indicators of the potential impacts of the pandemic on councils’ spending and incomes. This briefing note examines impacts for English councils using outturns data for 2020–21, compares these with expectations based on ex ante and rapidly available indicators, and considers the implications for both councils’ current financial resilience and how the financial impacts of future extreme adverse shocks should be monitored.

Adult Social Care Omicron Support Fund

Department of Health and Social Care | 10 January 2022

In recognition of the increased pressure on existing funding sources caused by the Omicron variant, the government announced on 29 December 2021 that it is providing £60m additional funding for January 2022. This guidance provides information on the Adult Social Care Omicron Support Fund, including distribution of funds, reporting requirements and guidance on how this funding can be used by local authorities.


Widespread workforce shortages revealed | Local Government Chronicle 

Local Government Chronicle | 16 February 2022

A significant proportion of councils are experiencing severe challenges in recruiting and retaining essential staff, LGC’s latest survey suggests, with high levels of concern about the chief executive pipeline. Just over half of respondents (55%) said their council had large or very large workforce shortages. The majority of relevant councils had issues in adult social care (70%) and children’s services (64%). Planning was also an area of challenge for more than two-fifths of councils. “In planning, the best officers move into well-paid private firms,” one respondent said.

Home Office directs 29 local authorities to help unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Local Gov | 16 February 2022

The Home Office has written to 29 local authorities directing them to help unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The National Transfer Scheme has now become mandatory, requiring all local authorities with children’s services to accept transfers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The change to the previously voluntary scheme was made to ease pressure on authorities on the south coast, which faced an increased number of arrivals from across the English Channel.

Regional targets for asylum floated

The MJ | 15 February 2022

Regions could be allowed to come up with collective targets for the number of asylum seekers they agree to look after, The MJ understands. The Home Office has indicated it is open to agreeing regional targets instead of suggesting goals for each individual council as part of discussions on alternative models of dispersal. Whitehall previously announced it was temporarily mandating councils to take part in the national transfer scheme for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in a bid to end the use of hotels.

Councils seek clarity over debt servicing proposals

Public Finance | 15 February 2022

Local authority organisations have warned that changes that would change the way councils account for debt servicing on commercial property borrowing could have a “devastating” impact on services. In November, the government proposed amending the wording of the capital financing framework, to state that capital receipts may not be used in place of the minimum revenue provision charge.

Delay warning on energy bill support

The MJ | 15 February 2022

The Government has been warned an ‘enormous’ number of council tax payers not using direct debit will delay handing out the £150 council tax rebate. Eligible council tax payers are expecting what the Government calls a ‘council tax energy rebate’ from April. But a survey of nine local authorities (see box) by the Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation (IRRV) has revealed that the proportion of households that do not pay their council tax by direct debit ranges from 57% in Haringey LBC to 26.5% in a district council in the north of England. IRRV chief executive, David Magor, has written to local government secretary Michael Gove to highlight the figures.

LGA warns of 'devastating' implications of borrowing crackdown

The MJ | 14 February 2022

Government proposals to tackle risky borrowing by some councils could have ‘potentially devastating’ implications on the ability of many councils to deliver services, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned. Responding to a departmental consultation that closed last week, the association also warned the proposed changes would ‘compromise’ national housing delivery - including schemes that have been agreed as a priority with the Government. The consultation paper suggested extending the minimum revenue provision (MRP) in the local government prudential framework.

Councils slam brake on PWLB borrowing following rate hike

Public Finance | 11 February 2022

Local authorities in the UK borrowed just £130m from the Public Works Loan Board in January, as the cost of borrowing leapt following December's Bank of England interest rate rise. David Blake, strategic director at treasury advisors Arlingclose, told PF that PWLB rates had soared due to high market interest rate forecasts from the market following the Bank of England's interest increase to 0.25% in December.

Care cap will fail to help poorer pensioners, charity warns

Local Gov | 10 February 2022

More than four out of five older people will not benefit from the Government's social care cap, a charity has warned. Age UK has criticised the Government for proposing a change to how the progress towards the cap is calculated, warning it would disproportionately affect those who are less well off. Analysis by the charity reveals older people who have higher incomes or live in richer parts of the UK are more likely to benefit from the cap than poorer older people.

Number of vulnerable children in unregulated settings rises by 450%

Local Gov | 10 February 2022

The number of applications to deprive children of their liberty in unregulated placements such as caravans and holiday lets has risen dramatically over the last three years, new figures reveal. The use of a ‘last resort’ measure by the High Court which allows it to deprive children of their liberty in unregulated settings when a place can’t be found elsewhere, has increased by 462% over the last three years, according to the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.

NHS trusts raise 'significant concerns' over 'single accountable figure' plan

Local Government Chronicle | 10 February 2022

Health and local government figures are split over plans to introduce a single accountable figure for NHS and care services at a ‘place’ based level, initial reaction to the government’s integration white paper suggest. Yesterday's document, Health and Social Care Integration: Joining up care for people, places, and populations, outlined plans for a single accountable leader to oversee integrated health and care ‘place boards’ within larger integrated care systems. But while local government has largely welcomed the idea, NHS representatives have expressed concerns.

Councils 'in the dark' on Afghan resettlement

The MJ | 10 February 2022

Councils remain ‘in the dark’ about rehousing thousands of Afghan refugees in bridging accommodation, according to the Local Government Association (LGA). Chair of the LGA’s refugee taskforce, Cllr Nick Forbes, said local authorities have been left to ‘second guess’ how many and what size properties are required due to a lack of data from the Government. Speaking to The MJ, he said: ‘While councils are willing to help ensure they are rehoused and given a fresh start we cannot plan if the Government doesn’t share any data.’

Government has no action plan for improving children's social care

The MJ | 10 February 2022

The Government has admitted it does not have a single detailed action plan to deliver high-quality care to all children despite previously claiming one existed. Its admission comes after education secretary Nadhim Zahawi commissioned a national review into the deaths of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who suffered an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of his father’s ‘evil’ partner, and 16-month-old Star Hobson, who was killed in Bradford by her mother’s partner.

Final settlement insufficient to tackle long-term pressures, sector leaders say

Local Government Chronicle | 8 February 2022

The final local government finance settlement, confirmed last night, will see councils receive a "real-terms increase of more than 4.5%" on last year, communities secretary Michael Gove has said. However, sector leaders have warned the settlement - which the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities will give councils "access to a share of £54.1bn" - will not be enough to tackle the long-term pressures the sector faces.

Councils given spending boost to build back better

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 7 February 2022

Councils in England will have access to a share of £54.1bn in funding for the coming financial year including more than £1bn of additional money for social care. This is the largest cash-terms increase in grant funding in 10 years, providing the stability they need to build back better. This includes a one-off 2022/23 Services Grant worth £822m for councils to spend as they see fit on local priorities.

Public health grant confirmed with below inflation increase | Local Government Chronicle

Local Government Chronicle | 4 February 2022

Public health funding for councils is to increase by just 2.7% next year, a minister has confirmed.  However, the government is still yet to announce allocations for individual councils. Primary care minister Maria Caulfield confirmed the grant for 2022-23 will be £3.42bn, up £93m on 2021-22, in response to an urgent question from Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Millions to receive £350 boost to help with rising energy costs

HM Treasury | 3 February 2022

Millions of households will receive up to £350 to help with the cost of living following a rise in the energy price cap. All domestic electricity customers will get £200 off their energy bills from October, with 80% of households receiving a £150 Council Tax rebate from April. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces £9.1bn Energy Bills Rebate to support families with rising global energy prices.

Majority of councils not taking ‘open approach’ to digital services

Local Gov l 2 February 2022

Over three-quarters of local authorities across the UK do not use standard Government technology components when designing their digital services, an FOI request has revealed. The Government’s Service Standards advises councils to use open standards and common components and patterns so that web teams do not have to ‘solve problems that have already been solved.’ It also means that it will be easier to make different systems ‘talk’ to one another, which enables local authorities to deliver digital services more efficiently.

Two Essex councils agree formal strategic partnership

Local Gov | 1 February 2022

Two councils in Essex have formalised their strategic partnership after successfully sharing a joint chief executive for six months. Brentwood Borough Council and Rochford District Council have signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations to 'maximise opportunities and enhance financial resilience'.

Call to end 'patchy' support for children affected by domestic abuse

Local Gov | 1 February 2022

Police in England and Wales made almost a quarter of a million referrals to social services for domestic abuse in 2020/21, a charity has uncovered. Analysis by the NSPCC found an average of 669 child protection referrals a day were made by police to social services in the last year, an increase of 8% on the previous year. The charity warns that while local authorities now have a legal duty to provide housing support for families fleeing domestic abuse, they do not have to provide specialist, therapeutic services to support their recovery.

Rural health services need ‘levelling up’, MPs say

Local Gov | 1 February 2022

Rural local authorities spend a disproportionately higher share of their budget on providing social care than their urban counterparts, MPs warn. A three-year investigation undertaken by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Rural Health and Care and the National Centre for Rural Health and Care has found stark levels of inequality between rural and urban areas when it comes to health and social care services. It found that those living in rural or coastal communities – around a fifth of England’s population – have poorer access to health and social care services than those living in towns and cities despite the ‘social duty to promote equality’ embodied in the NHS Constitution.

Consultation on removing vaccination as a condition of deployment for health and social care staff

Department of Health and Social Care | 31 January 2022

Regulations making vaccines a condition of deployment for health and social care staff are set to be revoked, subject to public consultation and Parliamentary approval, the Health and Social Care Secretary has announced. The government has been clear that it keeps all COVID-19 measures under review.

Hampshire councils agree formal end to 12-year partnership

Local Gov | 31 January 2022

Havant Borough Council and East Hampshire District Council have both formally agreed to end their joint management agreement. The two councils announcement earlier this month they were looking to end their 12-year partnership to set up their own management teams. Gill Kneller, current joint chief executive, will be given the role of chief executive at East Hants, while Kim Sawyer, currently the interim chief operating officer, will become the acting chief executive at Havant.

DfE 'drawing up proposals' for councils to run academy trusts

Local Government Chronicle | 28 January 2022

Councils would be allowed to run their own academy trusts under plans believed to be under consideration by the Department for Education. Successive Conservative education secretaries have shared a vision of all schools becoming academies, although research has shown there is little difference in the performance of schools in academy chains and local authorities.

County's tax rise factors in 'painful demand' for social care

Local Government Chronicle | 28 January 2022

Nottinghamshire CC will raise council tax by 4% in the 2022-2023 financial year to account for increasing pressures on its social services. The council is able to make the hike because it deferred 2% of the 3% increase in the social care precept allowed this financial year to next year. They will also use the additional 1% increase in the social care precept allowed by the government for next year, as well as increasing general council tax by 1% over the next financial year, bringing the total rise to 4%.

More children could care for sick parents under health reforms, charity warns

Local Gov | 26 January 2022

More children could end up caring for sick and disabled adults once they are discharged from hospital under the Government's health reforms, a charity has warned. Barnardo’s is calling for an amendment to the Government's Health and Care Bill, arguing it could see thousands of adults with serious and complex health issues discharged in the sole care of children. It warns that under the reforms the NHS will no longer need to consult with the patient's carer when discharging a patient meaning vulnerable child carers will miss out on support.

Bradford children's services to be placed into Trust

Department for Education | 25 January 2022

Bradford’s children’s social care services are set to be lifted into a Trust that will drive rapid improvements, following recommendations made to the Education Secretary by the Children’s Services Commissioner in Bradford. The not-for-profit trust will be owned by Bradford Council but operate at arms-length under the control of a new independent Chair and Board of Directors.

Council housing subsidiary business case at risk

Public Finance | 21 January 2022

The business case for housing company This Land relies on purchasing three council-owned plots, alongside identifying 12 sites for planning promotion, a shareholder review from property advisors Avison Young said. However, by the end of 2021 This Land had only identified three of the 12 sites required, putting financial forecasts and income to the council under pressure, according to the adviser's report, which is going to a strategy and resources committee meeting next week.

Authority to use reserves to fund council tax reduction

Public Finance | 21 January 2022

Harlow Council is set to raid its reserves to fund a reduction in council tax bills by £50 per property next year. In January 2021, the authority's medium-term financial strategy proposed increasing council tax rates by 1.99% in 2022-23, equal to £5 per Band D property, to help fill a £185,000 budget gap. However, a MTFS update going to cabinet next week proposes scrapping the rate rise, and reducing council tax bills by £50 with the forecast £993,000 cost funded through reserves. 

Council chiefs warn vital health services ‘at risk’

Local Gov | 20 January 2022

Vital frontline health services are at risk due to a lack of certainty around councils’ public health funding, local authority leaders have warned. The Local Government Association (LGA) has urged the Government to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations which councils will receive from April. The LGA warned that time was ‘running out’ for councils to make critical decisions on renewing contracts for public health services, including for health visiting, sexual and reproductive health, and suicide prevention.

Value of county’s commercial investments plummets

Public Finance | 20 January 2022

The value of two retail investments made by Surrey County Council in 2017 has plummeted by tens of millions of pounds – to less than half of the original purchase price – due to Covid-19. A Surrey County Council meeting on Tuesday heard that a retail park in Worcester and a former Debenhams in Winchester bought for a combined £90.8m were worth just £41.3m in March last year. Covid-19 has hit the capital value and rental yields of commercial property, after the government introduced measures restricting evictions, the council said. 

Staff shortages are ‘excessively high’, warn care providers

Local Gov | 20 January 2022

Homecare providers are warning that they are having to refuse new requests for home care because of Omicron and ongoing staffing problems. A new survey from the National Care Forum (NCF) found that 66% of the homecare providers who responded are now having to refuse new requests for home care. Over 40% of these providers reported having to close to new admissions and 21% of providers of home care are handing back existing care packages.

Oxfordshire councils to end formal partnership

Public Finance | 19 January 2022

An Oxfordshire district council and the county authority are set to end their shared services arrangement after the new county administration decided the benefits “no longer outweigh the negatives”. Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council will formally end their arrangement in the coming weeks, subject to upcoming decisions at full council meetings. The cabinet of the county council, which changed political control in May 2021, wants to explore new ways of working.

Council-backed energy firm collapses

Local Gov | 18 January 2022

Together Energy has announced today it has ceased trading, exposing Labour-led Warrington Council to heavy financial losses. The council has a 50% stake in the energy company, with potential liabilities standing at more than £50m, according to opposition councillors’ estimates.

Half of councils forced to ration care, survey reveals

Local Gov | 14 January 2022

Staff shortages have forced more than of councils in England to ration social care and support, a new survey has revealed. A new survey by ADASS found half of councils surveyed are taking at least one exceptional measure to prioritise care and assess risk for at least some of their area for some of the time. This includes prioritising life sustaining care over helping someone get out of bed or completing other activities.

‘Car crash’ predicted in integration power struggle with NHS

Local Government Chronicle | 14 January 2022

Councillors have expressed fears that the NHS will use the structure of new integrated care systems (ICSs) to seize power from councils and sideline the voices of local communities. Forty-two ICSs are due to come into statutory force in 2022, superseding the powers of clinical commissioning groups – although in December the target transition date was postponed from 1 April to 1 July. At a meeting of the Local Government Association’s city regions board this week, councillors predicted “choppy waters” ahead as the new system takes shape.

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Place & Growth

Building Safety Bill – The next steps

The Building Safety Bill is due to go to House of Lords’ Committee Stages, beginning on 21 February 2022. New amendments to the Bill[1] give a clear indication of how Parliament is approaching the question of building safety, and in particular who pays for remediation of “relevant defects”. 

Prohibitions on carrying out development

Proposed new clauses give the Secretary of State power to make regulations which would prohibit a “person of a prescribed description” from carrying out development of land in England and/or impose a building control prohibition in relation to persons of a “prescribed description”. These powers would be for any purpose connected with building safety or building standards.

Unhelpfully, “persons of a prescribed description” are not defined in the proposed amendments, which simply state that it means “prescribed by regulations under this section”.

Service charges – limits on tenant liability to pay

There are new amendments aimed at limiting recovery of certain service charge amounts relating to “relevant defects” from tenants.  A relevant defect is anything done (or not done) which causes a building safety risk (i.e. a risk to safety of people in or about a building arising from the spread of fire or the collapse of the building).

The proposed restrictions would apply to “qualifying leases”, which are essentially long leases of ‘relevant buildings’, which are buildings over 18 metres in height and with at least 5 storeys. 

There is a form of sliding scale in respect of these service charge payment limits. No Service Charges will be due from tenants in relation to relevant defects where the landlord itself was the developer or contractor, or is “associated” with the person responsible for a relevant defect. Otherwise, a Permitted Maximum Service Charge will be imposed (the maximum applying to the total amount of relevant service charges going back a maximum of five years from commencement of the Building Safety Bill).

The Permitted Maximums are:

  • Greater London - £15,000.
  • Elsewhere - £10,000[2].

Liability of associated body corporates

Further proposed amendments are aimed at allowing recovery of remedial costs (arising from building safety risks) from “associates” of the original body that has liability for defects resulting from building safety risk. The definition of “associates” is wide, and includes corporate bodies that have control over the original body, or share directors, or a third party has control over both bodies.

Construction Product and Cladding Product Liability.

New proposed amendments also provide for liability in relation to construction product requirements or cladding product requirements. These will impose liability on persons who fail to comply with a construction product requirement or a cladding product requirement, and that failure causes the building to become unfit for habitation. In the case of cladding products, there will also liability imposed on those who make misleading statements about cladding products, and those who manufacture inherently defective cladding products. If enacted, these new liabilities will carry extra-long limitation periods (15 years for construction products and 30 years for cladding products).


Local Authorities have interests in may ‘relevant buildings’ and so should be aware of these proposed amendments, which signify Parliament’s wish to shift liability for the costs of works to remedy building safety defects onto landlords and their ‘associates’. It must be remembered, however, that these are only proposed amendments, and the Bill is yet to go through further stages before receiving Royal Assent (which is expected between July and September this year).

For more help and advice, please contact Will Cursham, Judith Hopper or Louise Robling.

[1] Published on 14 February 2022
[2] (Higher value properties have increased Permitted Maximums of £50,000 (where the value of the qualifying lease is £1m to £2m) and £100,000 (where the value of the qualifying lease exceeds £2m).


The Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Approved Devices, Charging Guidelines and General Provisions) (England) Regulations 2022

Laid before Parliament on 27 January 2022, these new Regulations give English councils outside of London the power to enforce moving traffic violations, including issuing fines for stopping in a box junction. The Regulations comes into on 31 May 2022 and gives effect to the moving traffic enforcement powers under Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004.

High Speed Rail (Crewe - Manchester) Bill

A Bill to make provision for a railway between a junction with Phase 2a of High Speed 2 south of Crewe in Cheshire and Manchester Piccadilly Station; for a railway between Hoo Green in Cheshire and a junction with the West Coast Main Line at Bamfurlong, south of Wigan; and for connected purposes. The Bill had its first reading on 24 January 2022, on 24 February 2022 it will be examined for compliance with standing orders. Please find the Department for Transport’s press release here: North West on track to benefit from faster and more reliable train journeys as bill for next phase of HS2 to be laid in Parliament.

Draft - The Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

These draft Regulations are laid to amend the Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) Regulations 2013. They look to change the administration of the Business Rates Retention system by amending the calculation of levy and safety net payments, as a result of the restructuring of certain local government areas, changes to business rates retention pilots, and the payment by central Government of specific grants to local authorities in England.

Publications & Guidance

Levelling Up the United Kingdom

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 2 February 2022

Levelling up is a moral, social and economic programme for the whole of government. The Levelling Up White Paper is a flagship document that sets out how we will spread opportunity more equally across the UK. It comprises a bold programme of systems change, including 12 UK-wide missions to anchor the agenda to 2030, alongside specific policy interventions that build on the 2021 Spending Review to deliver change now. Please find the press release here: Government unveils levelling up plan that will transform UK. 

Report: Supporting local economic growth

National Audit Office | 2 February 2022

This report considers the lessons the Department has learned from a long history of implementing local growth policies. It examines how it has applied these lessons to the one-year UK Community Renewal Fund and the following place-based interventions:

  • Levelling Up Fund
  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund
  • Towns Fund and
  • Freeports

UK Shared Prosperity Fund: pre-launch guidance

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 2 February 2022

This guidance provides further information to local authorities and other partners across the United Kingdom on: the aims of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, its contribution to our shared objectives and the delivery roles of the UK Government and local partners across the UK.

Investing in Regional Equality - lessons from four cities

CIPFA and the University of Birmingham | 1 February 2022

Reducing inequalities lies at the heart of resolving some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from eradicating poverty, to tackling climate change, to creating real sustainable economic growth. Inequality prevents nations from improving health, education and human rights outcomes. Ultimately, countries and their regions can’t grow or move forward if they are leaving people behind. But reducing inequalities requires transformative and sustained change. To inform this debate we selected four city-regions from across the world to investigate the different approaches used to reduce inequalities. Our case studies, Fukuoka (Japan), Leipzig (Germany), Cleveland (USA) and Nantes (France), have all had success in overcoming significant social and economic inequalities in recent years. We assess the various governance, policy and funding factors that have allowed them to grow out of inequality and what lessons can be learned from their experiences as well as their remaining challenges.

Update - Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local authorities

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 25 January 2022

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has updated 'Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local authorities' to update Chapter 5 on allocation scheme management under 'Advice and information'. The updated guidance amends paragraph 5.7 and adds new paragraphs 5.8, 5.9, 5.10, 5.11.

Creating resilient and revitalised high streets in the ‘new normal’

Local Government Association | 24 January 2022

Economics and strategy research consultancy, Pragmatix Advisory, and futures experts, Trajectory, were commissioned by the Local Government Association to identify how councils can help create resilient and revitalised high streets beyond the pandemic. This report was informed via more than 30 video-conference interviews with experts from the private sector and academia, council officers and business improvement district members from across England. This was supplemented by desktop research using existing literature and evidence. As part of this work Trajectory has identified a checklist of 35 pre-pandemic trends across the six ‘PESTLE’ (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) categories that will impact high streets going forward.

Research Briefing: Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill 2021-22

House of Commons Library | 20 January 2022

This briefing explains the background to the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill 2021-22, the Bill’s main provisions and its progress through Parliament to date.

Building Safety Fund: A step by step guide for leaseholders and residents

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 20 January 2022

A guide to the Building Safety Fund process for leaseholders and residents of buildings over 17.7m with cladding systems that meet the criteria.

Neighbourhoods & Communities Report

Resident Voice Index | 12 January 2022

The Neighbourhoods & Communities survey is the first report from the Resident Voice Index, a new nationwide initiative from MRI Software that asks residents about their feelings and perceptions around a series of key issues. The project is delivered in partnership with Housing Associations Charitable Trust (HACT), Housing Quality Network (HQN) and us marketing. This first instalment investigated the complex relationships between residents’ perceptions of community belonging, caring and safety. It also looked at how well their neighbourhoods were served with essential amenities.


Councils complain about grants red tape

The MJ | 15 February 2022

Frustrated councils are having to needlessly double check firms despite having repeatedly paid business grants to them, The MJ understands. Local authorities have complained that being forced to carry out repeated checks on business grant applications they are confident are valid is unnecessary and leading to delays in paying out cash. It comes as council chief executives are being urged by Government ministers to go faster in distributing COVID-19 grants.

Government to protect leaseholders with new laws to make industry pay for building safety

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 14 February 2022

Tough new measures that will force industry to pay to remove cladding and protect leaseholders from exorbitant costs have been unveiled by Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove today (14 February 2022). For those in industry not doing the right thing, the government will be able to block planning permission and building control sign-off on developments, effectively preventing them from building and selling new homes. The proposals will see the industry pay to fix historical problems, freeing hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders from shouldering an unfair financial burden while also enforcing a common-sense approach to avoid unnecessary work. The proposed amendments are laid out here

Gove: devolve business rates to mayors

Public Finance | 14 February 2022

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has said England’s directly elected mayors should be given control of business rates in order to boost devolution and aid the government’s economic vision for reducing regional inequality. He said he wants to give mayors more control to improve competition between regions, telling the Financial Times regional flexibility is “definitely the direction of travel we want to go down”.

Tackling the UK's 'outlier' position depends on the North, says Gove

The MJ | 9 February 2022

The North is ‘where the action is, politically and economically’ if the UK’s position as an outlier in comparison to its neighbours is to be tackled, according to levelling up secretary Michael Gove. Addressing the Convention of the North conference yesterday, he said that the UK was both the most geographically unequal and also the most centralised of its neighbours and competitors, 'and those two things go together’.  Centralisation and inequality needed to be ‘addressed, changed and fundamentally reversed, and that’s the mission of this government, and I know it’s the mission of everyone in this room’, said Mr Gove.

Roads funding cut leaves counties eyeing city region transport budgets

Local Government Chronicle | 8 February 2022

County councils are warning they will have to cancel planned road maintenance if government funding continues to fall in 2022-23. A County Councils Network analysis of roads maintenance funding announced at the spending review forecasts their members will receive £727m in 2022-23, down from just over £1bn last year and £1.2bn in 2020-21. CCN is calling for the government to find additional resources or reprioritise other budgets, such as the £5.7bn city region sustainable transport budgets announced for mayoral combined authorities in last year's Budget.

New plans to slash red tape from 5G roll out and improve mobile phone connectivity

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport | 8 February 2022

Street lights, bus shelters and traffic lights will host more mobile network equipment to help boost mobile coverage as part of a new scheme to cut red tape and install more 4G and 5G kit.

Funding for energy efficiency upgrades will slash fuel bills for 20,000 social housing properties

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 7 February 2022

Tens of thousands of social housing tenants across England will have their energy bills cut and homes made warmer as the government makes £179 million available to improve energy efficiency. The funding announced today (Monday, 7 February) will see 20,000 social housing properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower receive upgrades to improve their energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. This includes fitting external wall and roof insulation, energy efficient doors and windows, heat pumps and solar panels.

Package to transform education and opportunities for most disadvantaged

Department for Education | 1 February 2022

Education will be at the heart of major new reforms set to give every child and adult the skills they need to fulfil their potential, no matter where they live. Through the government’s Levelling Up white paper, areas such as County Durham, Cornwall and Hartlepool are set to benefit from improved schools, part of a package of measures that will also boost take-up of high-quality training across England and support stable families that help children to succeed.

Gove announces plan for £16bn LGPS levelling up investment

Local Government Chronicle | 31 January 2022

he government will set out a ‘new plan’ for the Local Government Pension Scheme to invest billions of pounds in “local projects” as part of plans to level up the country, Michael Gove has said. The levelling up secretary highlighted the proposal in an article in the Mail on Sunday that previewed the long-awaited levelling up white paper, which is due to be published on Wednesday. It comes five months after the prime minister and chancellor said they would not mandate institutional investors to make more illiquid investments in the UK.

20 town and city centres in England transformed through ambitious regeneration projects

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 30 January 2022 

Towns and cities across the country will be transformed thanks to a radical new regeneration programme that will breathe fresh life into disadvantaged communities. Under plans set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, due to be published next week, derelict sites in towns and city centres will be transformed creating new homes, jobs and beautiful new communities across England.

One-off grant sparks financial ‘cliff edge’ fear

Local Government Chronicle | 28 January 2022

Councils face a financial "cliff edge" when the one-year £822m services grant ends, prompting concern among senior figures that ministers have failed to appreciate its threat to councils' future viability. The provisional local government finance settlement announced last month included a one-off, unringfenced £822m services grant for 2022-23, distributed through the government's existing formula for assessed relative need, and leaving open the possibility for moving to a fairer funding transition in future years. However, the settlement did not explicitly commit to the fair funding review in its full form and made no mention of future business rates retention or the proposed business rates reset.

Councils urges rethink of overground HS2 station

Local Gov | 21 January 2022

An underground station to accommodate HS2 in Manchester would deliver economic benefits worth £333m a year more than the current overground plan, new analysis has found. Manchester City Council is calling on ministers to reconsider plans for a new overground Manchester Piccadilly station, arguing its infrastructure would dominate parts of the city. It has set out a new plan outlining the benefits of a below-the-surface HS2 station.

Government to drive up standards in social housing

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 18 January 2022 

Social housing residents will be better protected as part of a review to ensure they are listened to, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes confirmed today (18 January 2022). The review on qualifications and professional training will drive up standards by making sure social housing staff are better equipped to support tenants, deal effectively with complaints, and make sure homes are good quality. The Social Housing White Paper Professionalisation Review will explore the qualifications currently available for staff, with landlords, residents and trade bodies putting forward recommendations to the government. It will also consider if additional training is required to improve the service to residents.

Proposals put forward to enforce biodiversity net gain in planning

Local Government Chronicle | 17 January 2022

New developments will be required to improve the biodiversity of their areas by 10% under new planning regulations up for consultation by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. The improvements will also have to be delivered in a way which either reduces or restores any biodiversity losses that occured during the building phase of the development. Branded 'biodiversity net gain', this new approach aims to protect existing habitats and minimise the impact of development on biodiversity.

Mind the gap between levelling up ‘rhetoric and reality’, think tank warns

Local Gov | 17 January 2022

Central Government policies have undermined the ‘levelling up’ agenda and left the UK more regionally divided than ever, a new study says. The progressive think tank, IPPR North, has warned that the funding set aside for ending regional inequality ‘pales in comparison’ to what was lost through austerity measures brought in by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government of 2010. The 2021 allocations of the Levelling Up Fund is an investment of just £32 per person in the North. This compares to a £413 per person drop in the North, and a £388 drop across England, in annual council service spending over the last decade.

Bradford has most 'levelling up' potential, Index finds

Local Gov | 17 January 2022

New research has revealed the towns and cities in England that could make the best use of the Government’s levelling up funding. The Levelling Up Opportunity Index found Bradford had the strongest case for economic support as part of the levelling-up agenda, as well as significant capacity for new economic growth. It was followed by Wolverhampton and Coventry, with Luton and Plymouth coming joint fourth.

Gove closes tax loophole on second homes

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 14 January 2022

Owners of second homes who abuse a tax loophole by claiming their often-empty properties are holiday lets will be forced to pay under tough new measures announced by the government today (14 January 2022). The changes will target people who take advantage of the system to avoid paying their fair share towards local services in popular destinations such as Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District, Suffolk, West Sussex and the Isles of Scilly. Following consultation, the government will now bring changes to the tax system, which will mean second homeowners must pay council tax if they are not genuine holiday lets.

Pilots encourage deprived areas to create neighbourhood plans

Local Government Chronicle | 13 January 2022

Two government pilot schemes are encouraging urban and deprived communities to have a say in the development of their area. Eleven areas will receive grants under the schemes to support neighbourhood planning, which was introduced in the Localism Act 2011. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities said the process can include communities “choosing where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, what these new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided”.

Local councils call for access to same funding pots as principal authorities

Local Gov | 12 January 2022

Parish and town council leaders have called for local councils to have access to the same funding initiatives that support place-based working as principal authorities. In its response to the Business in the Community Place Taskforce’s call for evidence on the role of business in place-based regeneration, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has called for local councils to have access to funding initiatives such as the Towns Fund, Levelling-Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund.

Good Law Project ends judicial review challenge over Levelling Up Fund

Local Government Lawyer | 12 January 2022

The Good Law Project has withdrawn its judicial review challenge over the multi-billion pound “Levelling Up Fund”. The public interest litigation group had received permission in August 2021 from the High Court to bring the challenge against the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Transport. The court also ordered an expedited hearing. The Good Law Project was seeking to challenge the lawfulness of the allocation decisions and the methodology that the defendants stated they had used to determine those allocations.

More leaseholders to own their own buildings under government proposals

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 11 January 2022

Leaseholders could find it easier and cheaper to buy the freehold of their building under radical government proposals to create a fairer housing system. As part of a consultation opening today (11 January 2022), Homeowners and the housing industry are being invited to give their views on proposals from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to allow more leaseholders in mixed-use buildings to take control and ownership of their building. The consultation follows the Housing Secretary Michael Gove announcing a major reset of the government’s approach to building safety this week, when he told developers they must pay to fix the cladding crisis and that leaseholders must be protected. The consultation to reform the leasehold and commonhold systems in England and Wales closes on 22 February 2022.


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Governance & Reorganisation

Signs of Government Support for Hybrid Meetings?

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday 24 January 2022, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, seemingly indicated his support for hybrid meetings by stating that he is ‘strongly in sympathy with the view that hybrid meetings should continue’.  Mr Gove was responding to a question asking if he would look at whether parish councils could be allowed to sit in virtual or hybrid formats to increase and widen access to their meetings, in order to help them work to the best of their ability.

Many within the sector believe that virtual and hybrid meetings increased attendance at Council meetings at all levels and led to an expansion of community engagement, transparency and representation, particularly in rural areas and amongst groups of people who, for a variety of reasons, would otherwise have difficulty attending at a physical venue. Permitting such meetings also allowed both elected Members and the public to meaningfully attend meetings whilst reducing the risk to health posed by the pandemic.

Mr Gove’s comments come as an announcement from Government is still awaited on the ‘call for evidence on the issue of remote and hybrid meetings’, which ran from 25 March 2021 to 17 June 2021, and in light of sustained pressure from the local government sector to legislate to reintroduce the ability for Councils in England to hold virtual meetings again. This includes an online petition launched by Lawyers in Local Government and the Association of Democratic Services Officers and which presently has in excess of 10,000 signatures.

Mr Gove’s remarks, whilst seemingly in favour of hybrid meetings, do not reference those meetings which are completely ‘remote’ or ‘virtual’, which may suggest that any return to wholly virtual meetings might not have found favour with the Government. That said, even if Government’s appetite is limited to hybrid meetings, this would still be likely to see an increase in engagement across the community by those for whom physical attendance is inconvenient or impossible, and could also see significant benefits for the green agenda.

For governance advice and support, please contact David Kitson, or Victoria Barman.


The Elections (Policy Development Grants Scheme) (Amendment) Order 2022

Amendments are made to the Elections (Policy Development Grants Scheme) Order 2006, SI 2006/602 following recommendation received from the Electoral Commission. This Order comes into force on 9 February 2022.

The London Borough of Lambeth (Electoral Changes) Order 2022

Provisions are made to provide for new borough wards and numbers of councillors for Lambeth Council at the borough elections in 2022 and thereafter in England. This Order came into force partly on 15 January 2022, and fully on the ordinary day of election of councillors in England in 2022.

The South Cambridgeshire (Electoral Changes) Order 2022

Provisions are made to give effect to recommendations made by South Cambridgeshire District Council to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England for related alterations of one district ward boundary. This Order came into force partly on 14 January 2022, and fully the ordinary day of election of councillors in England in 2022.

Publications & Guidance

Elections Bill 2021: Summary factsheet

Cabinet Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 8 February 2022

This factsheet summarises all of the measures included in the Elections Bill.

Government response to the Public Duty public consultation

Home Office | 27 January 2022

The Home Office has concluded a consultation on how the Protect Duty, ‘a legal requirement for public places to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks’, can make public accessible locations safer for the public. The Government response provides: an outline of why the consultation took place; statistical reporting of the responses and summaries of the key themes; and an indication of how consultation responses will feed into Protect Duty considerations. 2,755 responses were received from a variety of organisations, sectors and campaigners, with the majority supporting the government’s proposals to introduce stronger measures, including a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks.

Also see: LGA responds to Protect Duty consultation findings

Local Government Association | 10 January 2022

Government Cyber Security Strategy: 2022 to 2030

Cabinet Office | 25 January 2022

The Cyber Security Strategy explains how the government will ensure that all public sector organisations will be resilient to cyber threats. The strategy’s vision is to ensure that core government functions are resilient to cyber attack, strengthening the UK as a sovereign nation and cementing its authority as a democratic and responsible cyber power. Find the press release here: First ever Government Cyber Security Strategy to step up Britain’s defence and resilience.

Review of intergovernmental relations

Cabinet Office | 13 January 2022

The review of intergovernmental relations (IGR) was undertaken jointly by the UK government and the devolved administrations to update intergovernmental structures and ways of working. This document sets out its conclusions. All 4 administrations have agreed to work under these new arrangements. The press release can be found here: Prime Minister to chair new council with devolved governments | Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Cabinet Office


Supreme Court to hear challenge over voter ID pilot schemes this week

Local Government Lawyer | 14 February 2022

The Supreme Court will this week (15 February) hear an appeal over the lawfulness of the voter identification pilot schemes that were implemented in the May 2019 local government elections. The background to the case of R (on the application of Coughlan) v Minister for the Cabinet Office was that in August 2018 the Cabinet Office invited local authorities to take part in voter ID pilot schemes. Under these schemes, voters would not be allowed to vote in polling booths unless they had a form of ID on them, such as a driver’s licence.

Council creates cyber attack reserve

Public Finance | 14 February 2022

In mid-December, the council’s online revenue and benefits, planning and customer services systems were all affected by the attack. The council revealed at a cabinet meeting last week that its new “cyber recovery reserve” will be funded next year from a forecast budget surplus of £380,000 in 2021-22. Declan Wilson, deputy leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, questioned whether the funding was enough, given reported costs from similar attacks suffered by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and the London Borough of Hackney.

Croydon public interest report handed to police

Local Government Chronicle | 11 February 2022

A public interest report into Croydon LBC’s £66m Fairfield Hall development by its now defunct development company Brick by Brick has been handed to the police. The report by Grant Thornton uncovered a number of serious corporate and governance failings at the council over the development, and the decision to place responsibility for it with Brick by Brick. At an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the full council, Hamida Ali (Lab), the leader of Croydon told councillors that she had sent the report to the Metropolitan Police commander for Croydon, chief superintendent David Stringer.

Caller called in for Northumberland review

The MJ | 11 February 2022

Local government expert Max Caller has been called in to carry out a corporate governance review of Northumberland CC. Mr Caller, who has previously conducted reviews on behalf of the Government at Nottingham and Liverpool city councils and is a commissioner at Slough Council, will undertake the corporate governance review at the behest of the council itself. Deputy leader of the council, Cllr Richard Wearmouth, commissioned the review following the advice of auditors.

LGC survey reveals senior officers' support for hybrid working

Local Government Chronicle | 11 February 2022

LGC survey shows senior figures believe home working improves work/life balance but diminishes camaraderie. The extent of senior managers’ support for hybrid working can be revealed by an LGC survey in which they report it has had a positive impact on both work/life balance and family relationships. Sixty-eight per cent of respondents to LGC’s survey said the shift to home or hybrid working has had a positive impact on work/life balance. Just 18% said its impact was negative, giving it a net benefit rating of +50% – an almost identical score respondents gave to home working’s impact on their family lives.

Councils rule out mayoral model

The MJ | 10 February 2022

Two areas have already ruled out adopting mayors despite being selected by the Government to be in the first wave of county devolution deals. Talks are due to open between the Government and the nine chosen areas announced in last week’s Levelling Up White Paper. However, Hull and East Riding and Devon, Plymouth and Torbay have already said they will not accept directly-elected mayors as part of their deals.

Gove ‘interested' in fiscal devolution

Local Government Chronicle | 9 February 2022

The communities secretary has told LGC that he is “interested in looking at” both land value uplift and business rates when it comes to devolving more fiscal powers locally. But Michael Gove pointed out it will be a “three way conversation” between himself, local leaders and the Treasury.

New performance body will measure happiness and life satisfaction

Local Government Chronicle | 9 February 2022

The government’s proposed new performance body must be developed with local government and be truly independent of ministers, leading sector figures have said. The levelling up white paper, published last week, announced plans for a new “independent body” to publish performance data to monitor progress against the government’s 12 levelling up missions. A suite of metrics published alongside the white paper reveals 23 of the 49 proposed measures are at local authority level, including happiness and life satisfaction ratings of residents. Other measures include healthy life expectancy, net additions to the housing stock and obesity prevalence as well as persistent pupil absences and educational performance at primary and secondary level.

Council reserves grow by £10bn in past year

Local Gov | 2 February 2022

The amount held in local authority reserves in England has increased to £29bn this year from £19bn in 2019/20, the latest figures shows. However, CIPFA's 2022 Financial Resilience Index warns that the long-term outlook is less positive as only £4bn of these have been unallocated for distribution in the early part of the financial year. CIPFA also warned that central government funding payments to councils were made late in 2020/21 which left insufficient time for local authorities to use the funding before the end of the financial year.

Slough bids for £270m capitalisation direction | Public Finance

Public Finance | 1 February 2022

Crisis-hit Slough Borough Council has asked central govenment for £270m of financing flexibilities to help address historic deficits and reduce debts next year.  A report to a full council meeting last week, said that cumulative misstatements on its minimum revenue provision since 2016-17 have added around £69m onto its debt repayments. The council said it is unable to cover the MRP balance in the 2021-22 budget without the further exceptional support from the government.  

Secretary of State indicates support for hybrid meetings on efficiency grounds

Local Government Lawyer | 28 January 2022

The Secretary of State for Levelling `Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, has said he is “strongly in sympathy with the view that hybrid meetings should continue in order to ensure the maximum amount of efficiency”. Mr Gove’s comments come as the local government sector awaits the outcome of the Government’s call for evidence on the issue of remote and hybrid meetings.

Cumbria renews judicial review bid over local government reorganisation

Local Government Lawyer | 27 January 2022

Cumbria County Council has renewed its application for a judicial review of the government's plans to divide the county into two east-west unitary councils. The leader of the council, Cllr Stewart Young, announced this week that the local authority had made a renewal application asking for the opportunity for its barrister to make oral representations to the judge, "whose previous view was based solely on his reading of the submitted papers".

Lancashire County Council endorses plan to secure devolution deal

Local Gov | 25 January 2022

Lancashire's county councillors have endorsed plans which aim to deliver a devolution deal to the county. The local authorities that make up Greater Lancashire – Lancashire County Council, 12 district councils, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council – have been cooperating to develop proposals covering the economy, transport, jobs, skills, and the environment, which they hope will secure a devolution deal for the county. Entitled ‘Our New Deal for a Greater Lancashire', the proposals were endorsed yesterday at a special meeting of Lancashire County Council.

Elections at 'risk of failure'

The MJ | 24 January 2022

A deluge of reforms to elections is putting the system at risk of failure, officials have warned. Councils are facing a slew of changes, ranging from voter ID requirements and limits on returning postal ballots at polling stations to regular re-registrations for postal and overseas voters.

Northern leaders champion role of culture in levelling up

Local Gov | 20 January 2022

Leaders from across the North have called for more investment and more devolution to help promote culture in the north of England. A new report from the Northern Culture All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) argues that the development of culture in the North is essential for the post-pandemic recovery and for levelling up. The APPG’s report recommends the devolution of funding and the introduction of more flexible funding in order to better support creative ideas and generate greater cultural capital across the North.

Whips 'threatening to withdraw local funding' if MPs fail to support PM

Local Government Chronicle | 20 January 2022

Government whips and 10 Downing St have been accused of blackmail by threatening to withdraw investment from areas if their MPs support a no confidence vote against the prime minister, potentially imperiling local bids for the levelling up fund.Boris Johnson's future is hanging in the balance after he was accused of turning a blind eye to the ‘party’ nature of drinks events held at Downing Street during successive lockdowns. Government allies have urged Tory MPs to throw their support behind their beleaguered leader, after a number submitted notes of no confidence in Mr Johnson.

City council votes to overhaul electoral system

Local Gov | 20 January 2022

Derby City Council councillors have approved proposals to change the electoral system so that members are elected once every four years. Local elections in Derby were held in three out of every four years. A third of seats were decided in each poll. Under the new system, elections will only take place once every four years.

Minister ‘minded’ to intervene at Sandwell Council

Local Gov | 19 January 2022

The Government is considering sending in commissions into Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council due to its failure to ‘resolve a variety of governance issues.’ Minister for equalities and levelling up communities, Kemi Badenoch, said the council has faced allegations of ‘serious misconduct’ by both members and officers. She highlighted the fact the council has had six different leaders in six years and three chief executives over the past three years, warning this has led to a ‘breakdown in trust, respect and confidence’.

Sector call for reinstatement of remote meetings gains momentum

Local Government Chronicle | 19 January 2022

A petition calling on the government to reinstate councils’ ability to hold remote meetings has garnered more than 7,500 signatures in just two weeks. The petition from the Association of Democratic Service Officers and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) calls on government to change the legislation in order to allow councils the choice to hold online or hybrid meetings, and indicates that this change would be beneficial in the long-term and not only in light of the current spread of Covid-19.

'Huge influx' of cases to ombudsman amid fears complaints are being 'marginalised'

Local Government Chronicle | 19 January 2022

There is a "very strong correlation" between local authorities who “aren’t keen to listen to public concerns” and those that have problems with corporate governance, according to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who is still grappling with a "huge influx" of cases since normal services resumed after the first lockdown. Speaking at a meeting of the Commons’ levelling-up, housing and communities committee, the ombudsman chair Michael King told MPs he is concerned the complaints functions in some local authorities have “become marginalised.” Mr King explained there tended to be a correlation between authorities where this culture appears to have been sidelined and those with ongoing problems.

City council to set up committee to consider action over chief executive after Cabinet Office leaving drinks admission

Local Government Lawyer | 19 January 2022

Sheffield City Council is to set up a cross-party committee to consider what action should be taken in relation to its chief executive, Kate Josephs, after she last week said she was "truly sorry" for going to a leaving party in December 2020 to mark the end of her role as Director General of the Cabinet Office's COVID-19 Task Force.A cross-party committee is necessary under the prescribed statutory procedure for dealing with a role at this level in local government. The committee will meet in private and will be made up of a small number of members, politically proportionate, including at least one who is a member of the council’s Co-Operative Executive.

District staves off section 114 with second capitalisation directive

Local Government Chronicle | 18 January 2022

Copeland BC has requested another £1.5m capitalisation directive from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) for 2022-23 after already being granted £1.5m for the current financial year, enabling it to borrow cash for day to day spending. The council passed a recommendation from its senior financial officer to request the directive for the latest £1.5m loan at a special meeting of the full council on 13 January, where it considered a report by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa). The report indicated that Copeland would soon be in a position to issue a section 114 notice if it does not take on exceptional financial support from the government.

Parish leaders call for council tax referendum exemption

Local Gov | 17January 2022

Local council leaders have called on the Government to grant parish and town councils a multi-year exemption on council tax referendum principles. As part of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2022/23, the Government has proposed to exempt parish and town councils from the need to hold referendums in the event of a large council tax increase. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has welcomed this proposal, but argues that only a multi-year exemption would give local councils the certainty and security needed for financial planning.

Powers to assess handling of code of conduct complaints could help end “toxic long-running” standards disputes, Ombudsman says

Local Government Lawyer | 13 January 2022

Complainants as well as sanctioned councillors should be given the right to ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) to review a council’s handling of alleged breaches of its code of conduct, the Ombudsman, Michael King, has said. Speaking to a session of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee this week, Mr King told MPs that the service stood "ready to deliver" a route of appeal over council code of conduct decisions, as recommended by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) in 2019. In its Local Government Ethical Standards report, issued in 2019, the CSPL recommended that local authorities should be given the power to suspend councillors without allowances for up to six months.

District's 'hugely expensive' cyber attack will lead to 'errors', leader says

Local Government Chronicle | 12 January 2022

The cyber attack that hit Gloucester City Council in December is expected to cost the authority at least £1m, its leader has told LGC. Richard Cook (Con) said he expected the cost of recovering from the attack to “exceed six figures” and warned that the impact on IT systems means there are “going to be some errors” in administering key services and benefits. He said responding to the attack was going to be “hugely expensive” and would have to be paid for from the council’s reserves if the money could not be found from other sources.

Councillor breached Code of Conduct by acting anonymously through Twitter, Independent Investigator finds

Local Government Lawyer | 7 January 2022

A former Cabinet Member at a London Borough Council breached the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct by acting anonymously through Twitter.

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Contract Management

Procurement: Public law principles and standing in public procurement decisions – watch this space?

The Minister for the Cabinet Office has successfully appealed the decision of O’Farrell J to allow (in part) a claim for judicial review of his decision to award a contract to Public First Limited (“Public First”). The contract was for the provision of focus group and communications support services relating to government public messaging around the Covid-19 pandemic. It was alleged by the Good Law Project that the award of the contract, without prior contract notice or competition, was in breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (“PCR”) and gave rise to apparent bias. The first instance decision by O’Farrell J had found a real possibility of bias, but the Court of Appeal judgment disagreed with this conclusion. Interestingly, the Court of Appeal judgment appears to cast some doubt on the applicability of public law principles such as bias to a regulatory regime, and also to question the recent trend of interest groups having standing to challenge tender award processes.


Public First was established by two personal friends of Dominic Cummings. Following strong recommendations from Mr Cummings, Public First were appointed in February 2020 to conduct focus groups to gather information on public opinion and behaviour. On 16 March 2020, at the request of Mr Cummings, a Public First employee was seconded to the Covid-19 communications hub. The Crown Commercial Service (“CCS”) was asked to put in place a formal agreement for this secondment. The contract was agreed in June 2020 with an effective date of 3 March 2020 and included focus group and reporting services as well as an on-site resource to support Number 10 communications (“the Contract”). The services under the Contract were later extended to cover qualitative research into EU exit, re-building the economy and attitudes to the UK union.

The first instance decision

The Minister had relied on Regulation 32(2)(c) of the PCR to justify the direct award of the Contract. Regulation 32(2)(c) permits the award of contracts without prior publication in circumstances of extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events. The Minister argued that the Covid-19 pandemic was unforeseeable and necessitated additional qualitative research to be carried out immediately to inform policy and strategy on public communications. Whilst O’Farrell J accepted that the Minister could rely on Regulation 32(2)(c), she found that the contract award gave rise to apparent bias contrary to common public law principles.


Of importance to authorities, suppliers, and practitioners generally, at first instance O’Farrell J had found that the Good Law Project had standing to bring a challenge under the PCR 2015, despite not being an economic operator.  This was in line with previous authorities such as R (Chandler) v. Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. The Minister had not appealed that part of the first instance decision, but the Court of Appeal said that:

“The question of standing for complete strangers to the procurement process with no commercial interest both under the Regulations and on public law grounds is a question ripe for review when it next arises.”

Whilst the Good Law Project has since applied for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, the issue of standing will not be determined as standing was not an issue before the Court of Appeal.  We will therefore need to wait for another case before having more definitive authority on the issue of standing to challenge an award under the PCR 2015 (or the regime that replaces it). This will be important to authorities, suppliers and action groups, not least because the new procurement regime envisaged under the anticipated Procurement Bill will introduce wider “principles and objectives” based duties and obligations (such as the obligation to take social value, carbon efficiency and wider policy objectives into account).  Is the Court of Appeal’s comment intended to mean that a public interest group would have no standing to challenge a failure to take those objectives into account?  It will be interesting to see how the Government articulates these duties when it publishes its Procurement Bill.  

The Grounds of Appeal

The Minister’s appeal was advanced on three grounds:

  1. O’Farrell J had been wrong to find that the failure to keep a clear record of the objective criteria used to select Public First over other research agencies and the failure to undertake a comparative procurement exercise amounted to apparent bias.
  2. The second ground (not advanced before O’Farrell J at first instance) contended that the concept of apparent bias at common law was irrelevant because the provisions of Regulation 24 of the PCR concerning conflicts of interest are a complete code for these purposes.
  3. The third ground of appeal was that if, as O’Farrell J found, this was a situation of extreme urgency covered by Regulation 32(2)(c), the rules relating to bias had no further application.

Judgment of the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal found that O’Farrell J’s conclusion that the Minister was entitled to rely on Regulation 32 was at odds with her conclusion that the failure to consider other research agencies gave rise to apparent bias, as Regulation 32 permitted the award of the contract without competition. The Court of Appeal stated that it was “unable to accept that in these circumstances the impartial and informed observer would, in effect, require the creation of a common law “procurement regime-light” in the absence of which he would think there was a real possibility of bias.”

The Court of Appeal held that O’Farrell J ought to have accepted the Minister’s evidence that:

  • only two companies had the scale and expertise to provide the services;
  • Public First was trusted and known to be capable of undertaking the services; and
  • it was already in place conducting the research therefore it was the most efficient and effective way of obtaining urgently needed research.

Amongst other things, the Court of Appeal considered that there was nothing unlawful in the involvement of Mr Cummings in the decision-making process, and it was relevant that the contract award was also approved by the Executive Director for Government Communication.

Against this background, the Court of Appeal concluded that the fair-minded and reasonably informed observer would not have found that a failure to carry out a comparative exercise created a real possibility of bias nor would they have concluded that the absence of any formal record of the decision-making process was indicative of apparent bias. For those reasons, the appeal was allowed.

Does bias apply in the context of the PCR 2015 anyway?

The judgment raises some interesting questions.  The parties and the first instance judgment had proceeded on the premise that the common law principles of apparent bias were applicable in this case.  The Court of Appeal said that it was in some doubt as to whether this common assumption was correct, although that issue was not before it as part of the appeal.  The Court of Appeal seemed to suggest that allegations of bias would sit better under Regulation 24 (conflicts of interest) rather than as a public law allegation of bias.  Although Regulation 24 (conflicts of interest) was not pleaded by Good Law Project, the Court of Appeal did say that it could conceive of a situation where a claim under Regulation 24 alleging conflicts of interest could be brought, even in the context of where exceptional urgency applied.


What this case shows is that, where the Court accepts that grounds for reliance on Regulation 32(2)(c) exist, the Court may also be reluctant to impose a duty on the authority to identify and evaluate whether other suppliers in the market are capable and/or suitable. This conclusion may be consistent with the distinction between the various limbs of Regulation 32(2), whereby Regulation 32(2)(a) and (b) (no suitable tenders/only one supplier) entail an assessment of the market; whereas (c) is a test which refers to urgency, foreseeability and time limits, none of which are related to the capacity of the market.

The case also flags interesting issues about standing of public interest groups which many people will be considering with interest.

Finally, the case (perhaps the most difficult issue of all) flags the inter-relationship between public law principles and regulatory principles. The Court of Appeal said that it was “in some doubt” as to whether bias was applicable in the case.  The Court of Appeal did not expand on this further. To use a “fair-minded observer” litmus test, does the mere fact that reliance on Regulation 32 is justified mean that an authority can then disregard other public law principles such as rationality?  And if it is the case that a public body acting under a regulatory regime is always bound by public law principles, why would some public law principles be ousted and some not?

At the time of writing, the Good Law Project has applied to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal.   Whilst the issues before the Court of Appeal may yet be determined by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will not be deciding the issues of standing or the application in general of public law principles, as there were not issues before the Court of Appeal.  Perhaps we will receive further guidance on these two areas in the shape of the Procurement Bill – doubtless this would be very helpful for both authorities and suppliers alike, not least as we move into a more principles based regime under the public procurement reforms introduced by the Government Green Paper.

For further help and advice on this area, please contact Emily Heard.


Ministerial Interests (Emergency Powers) Bill

A Bill to require a Minister to make an oral statement to Parliament if a contract is awarded under emergency statutory powers to a person in whom, or a company in which, a Minister has a personal, political or financial interest. This is a Private Members' Bill and was presented to Parliament on Wednesday 19 January 2022. The next stage for this Bill, Second reading, is scheduled to take place on 25 February 2022.

Publications & Guidance  

Veolia / Suez merger inquiry

Competition and Markets Authority | 28 January 2022

The CMA has published an issues statement as part of its Phase 2 investigation into the completed acquisition by Veolia Environnement SA of a minority shareholding in Suez SA and the anticipated public takeover bid by Veolia Environnement SA for the remaining share capital of Suez SA. The issues statement sets out the issues that the CMA intends to examine during its Phase 2 investigation, which it currently envisage being relevant to its investigation.

(Updated) Public Procurement: Provisional Common Framework | Cabinet Office

Cabinet Office | 27 January 2022

The ‘Common Framework for Public Procurement’ sets out the agreed, 4-nation ways of working for domestic and international public procurement policy and legislation. It is intended to guide the actions of policy officials of all 4 nations as they develop policies on public procurement. It has been updated with agreed ways of working on international agreements and the sharing of information on domestic policy.

Subsidy Control Bill 2021: illustrative regulations, guidance and streamlined routes

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 25 January 2022

We have published these documents to illustrate 3 specific elements of the proposed Subsidy Control regime:

  • Subsidies or Schemes of Interest/ Particular Interest
  • statutory guidance
  • Streamlined Routes

Each document gives an indication of how the government may implement these elements to support its priorities.

Twenty-First Report of Session 2021-22

House of Lords and House of Commons | 21 January 2022

At its meeting on 19 January 2022 the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments drew the attention of the Houses to four statutory instruments for defective drafting, requiring elucidation, failure to comply with statutory duties or failure to comply with proper legislative practice. This included The Public Procurement (Agreement on Government Procurement) (Thresholds) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. The Committee drew the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground of a failure to comply with statutory duties in one respect and on the ground of failure to comply with proper legislative practice in one respect.

GAD publishes updated procurement guidance   

Government Actuary’s Department | 20 January 2022

New and refreshed guidance will help clients understand procurement rules that apply when a government or public sector body wishes to secure our services. The guidance - Procuring our services - has been drafted in conjunction with the Government Legal Department and published online for the first time. It reflects changes in the regulations in response to Brexit, guidance published by the Cabinet Office and the updated thresholds effective from this month.

Public-Private Partnerships: Driving Growth, Building Resilience

Local Government Association | 17 January 2022

Against a backdrop of significant uncertainty and challenge, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and continued pressures on budgets, councils across the country are demonstrating ambition, agility, and incisiveness in delivering a greener and fairer economic recovery. Unprecedented actions such as protecting the vulnerable, mass-testing, the nation-wide roll out of the vaccine, distribution of business support grants, and the establishment of redundancy and recovery taskforces have demonstrated what can be achieved through strong partnerships between the public and private sectors. Whilst public-private partnerships (PPPs) are undoubtedly challenging to deliver and not without their controversy, robust and well-coordinated partnerships present opportunities to bring together the resources, expertise, and powers available in ways that cannot be achieved by either sector in isolation. As such, councils are now rightly exploring how this investment could unlock a range of social, environmental, and economic benefits aligned to local and national priorities.


Atos Services UK Ltd v the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and another [2022] EWCH 42 (TCC)

This case concerned the procurement of a supercomputer. In this preliminary hearing, the Claimant sought permission for expert evidence in the field of high performance computing and identified seventeen issues (set out in the Annex to the judgment) which they said should be the subject of such evidence. The Claimant asked for a list of seventeen questions to be put to an expert, however the defendants wished to restrict the scope. In light of the generally applicable principles, the judge deemed ten out of the seventeen questions to be impermissible on the grounds they were either duplicative of the other questions or were ‘an illegitimate usurpation of the court’s function’.


Good Law Project tries to revive PPE claim after service blunder

Law Gazette | 1 February 2022

A legal campaign group is trying to revive a judicial review over a contract for personal protective equipment after the High Court refused to extend time for service of the claim form, which was served one day late. The Good Law Project (GLP) sought to challenge the Department of Health and Social Care’s decision to award a £102.6m contract for face masks to Pharmaceutical Direct. Its claim was filed on 27 April 2021 and, on the same day, GLP emailed an unsealed claim form to a ‘new proceedings’ email address supplied by the defendant. The High Court issued a sealed claim form the following day, which GLP’s solicitors, London firm Bindmans, emailed to three individuals from the Government Legal Department - one of who confirmed receipt - but not to the ‘new proceedings’ address.

Blaenau Gwent receives damning report in public interest

Local Gov | 28 January 2022

Auditors have issued a damning report in the public interest on the ‘inadequate’ oversight of Blaenau Gwent CBC’s waste firm. The investigation by Audit Wales found ‘behaviours and failures that persisted over many years’ relating to Silent Valley Waste Services between 2003 and 2017. Although governance and oversight improvements have been made since, the Auditor General said the council should commission a review of its arrangements for other companies.

Liverpool launches £40m framework procurement

Local Gov | 21 January 2022

A £40m highways framework covering the Liverpool Combined Authority region is open to supplier bids. Launched by Liverpool City Council late last year, the authority is looking to procure a four-year multi-lot framework agreement for highways professional services at an estimated annual value of £10m. The procurement will be on 'open process' and the framework has a 1.5% rebate mechanism.

Court of Appeal overturns High Court ruling that award of £560,000 focus group contract to friends of Dominic Cummings was unlawful

Local Government Lawyer | 18 January 2022

The Government has won an appeal over a High Court ruling, which had found that its decision to award a £560,000 contract for the provision of focus group and communications support services during the pandemic to Public First, without public notice or competition, gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful. The Court of Appeal found that the High Court ruling had been unprecedented, and that the arguments in respect of apparent bias (and the decision to award the contract) had to be considered in the context of the extreme urgency and taking into account the lack of other competitors in the market which were able to provide the requisite services at the time.

Report slams borough’s procedures during £22m contract award | Public Finance

Public Finance | 11 January 2022

A West Midlands borough council failed to follow its own procedures when awarding SEND transport contracts and will likely need to restart the procurement process to avoid possible legal challenge. An independent review by consultants at Grant Thornton, to be discussed by councillors at Sandwell Borough Council this week, found that although there was no suggestion of fraud, disruptions to the process have damaged its reputation. The issues arose while the authority was trying to award a £22m contract covering four years from 2021 to 2025. In August 2020 the council established a new dynamic purchasing system for the contract, and moved to a closed bidder tender process in March 2021, but in June Sandwell’s Cabinet deferred a decision on awarding the contract following concerns being raised over the process.

Councils in £450m ‘truck cartels’ compensation challenge

Public Finance | 5 January 2022

The group of councils launched the challenge in November 2020 against 15 truck companies, after the European Commission found in 2016 they had colluded between 1997 and 2011 to fix prices. The authorities’ claim that the collusion meant “materially higher” costs for leasing and purchasing of heavy good vehicles used for refuse collection, street cleaning, waste disposal as well as contracts for such services that relied on the use of trucks.  Written defences and replies were submitted to the High Court in December, with disclosures and witness statements set to be filed next, but PF understands progress on the case is likely to progress slow due to a courts backlog caused by Covid-19.

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Disputes & Regulatory Support

Brown v South West Lakes Trust

This recent appeal is the latest in a chequered history of claims brought against public authorities purely on the basis of the positioning, make-up and structure of public utilities.

The circumstances

On 16 May 2017 a vehicle was driving along a highway near Redruth in Cornwall. The highway bordered Stithians Reservoir. Unfortunately the vehicle left its lane, crossed the opposite lane and a grass verge, and then went through a wire fence.  The vehicle then went down a stone-faced bank into the reservoir and tragically the driver was killed.

The claim was brought by the estate of the driver. The Defendants were South West Lakes Trust (SWLT) and South West Water Limited (SWWL) - in their capacity as occupiers of the reservoir, and the bank between it and the fence, and Cornwall Council (CC) as Highway Authority. 

The claim against SWLT and SWWL was brought on the basis that they ought to have been aware of the risk of vehicles leaving the carriageway, in particular in light of other incidents which had apparently happened in that area in October and November 2014.  In their defences, SWLT and SWWL pointed out that there had not been any previous accidents where a vehicle had entered the reservoir; in the other incidents the fence had been damaged but the cars did not travel through it.

A separate line of argument was pleaded against CC on the basis that the highway had been designed, constructed and adopted without any sufficient assessment of the risks posed to motorists negotiating the left hand bend of the highway, ie that they might end up in the reservoir if they left the road.

An application was made by the Defendants to strike the claim out. The Judge hearing the application dismissed the claim in its entirety, and the Claimant appealed.


The appeal in the claim against SWLT and SWWL related to whether the Judge was right to conclude that neither organisation owed a duty of care to road users under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984. The appeal relating to CC considered whether CC were liable to the Claimant on account of defective design of the road.

Occupiers Liability Act 1984

The appeal under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 failed. The Court of Appeal agreed with the first instance Judge that SWLT and SWWL owed no duty of care to road users under the 1984 Act. The reservoir was not inherently dangerous to road users; any danger to road users arose by virtue of their vehicle coming off the highway, and not due to the state of the reservoir.

Claim against the Highway Authority

However, the appeal was part allowed so that one aspect of the claim against CC could continue. 

The Court of Appeal agreed with the first instance Judge that an allegation relating to CC’s failure to exercise its powers and erect a crash barrier on the bend should be struck out, as a Council will not ordinarily be liable for failing to exercise its statutory powers.

However the Claimant’s argument that the design of the bend was negligent was allowed to continue. The Court of Appeal concluded that if CC had constructed a highway with a bend which was more acute than that recommended by prevailing standards, then it could potentially be liable for creating a danger (as opposed to failing to exercise statutory powers to remove a danger, which would not give rise to a cause of action).


It remains to be seen what degree of scrutiny the design of the highway is given, and whether the case will in fact be pursued against CC on this limited basis.

For the claim to succeed, the Claimant will still have to show that the design of the bend was negligent, and that this caused or contributed to the accident, and the Court of Appeal highlighted that there would inevitably be a “substantial” reduction for contributory negligence on the driver’s part in any event.

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail, please contact Roger Carver, Associate.

Publications & Guidance

Judicial Review and Courts Bill 2021-2022: Progress of the Bill

House of Commons Library | 21 January 2022

The Judicial Review and Courts Bill 2021-22 would reform rules affecting judicial reviews and bring in changes to the court system, including allowing remote access to inquests. It was considered by a Public Bill Committee over 11 sittings between 2 and 18 November 2021 and is due to have Commons report stage on 25 January 2022. This paper summarises the amendments made to the Bill in Committee and the main issues that were debated.


Court gives green light for legal challenge over licence to deposit dredged material in Severn Estuary

Local Government Lawyer | 7 February 2022

The ‘Save the Severn’ campaign group has been granted permission for a judicial review of the Marine Management Organisation’s decision to grant a licence for dredged material from construction works at a nuclear partner in Somerset to be deposited in the Severn Estuary. About 540,000 cubic metres (800 000 tonnes) of material will be produced to make way for a water cooling system at the plant near Bridgwater.

Borough to challenge grant of planning permission for 99-home scheme, saying inspector mis-applied or misinterpreted key policies

Local Government Lawyer | 7 February 2022

Waverley Borough Council is to bring a legal challenge over a decision by a planning inspector to grant planning permission for a scheme to build 99 homes on a green field site off Loxwood Road in Alfold. The local authority said there had been significant local opposition to the application, which was originally refused by the council in March 2021, due to its excessive scale in comparison with the location.

Upper Tribunal rules on ability of councils to impose financial penalties on joint landlords for HMO offences

Local Government Lawyer | 3 February 2022

An Upper Tribunal judge has handed down a ruling on the ability of housing authorities to impose financial penalties on joint landlords for the offence of having control of an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO). In Gill & Anor v The Royal Borough Of Greenwich (HOUSING - CIVIL PENALTY - joint landlords) [2022] UKUT 26 (LC) Martin Rodger QC, Deputy Chamber President of the Lands Chamber, set out the questions that arose on the appeal: “Does section 249A of the Housing Act 2004, allow a financial penalty to be imposed on each of two joint landlords for the offence of having control of an unlicensed HMO contrary to section 72(1) of the Act, or may only one penalty be imposed jointly on them both, or none at all?”

Election Court dismisses challenge to election result over statements in leaflet

Local Government Lawyer | 3 February 2022

A Labour councillor in Hartlepool has successfully defended an election petition brought by a defeated opponent who said he had been the victim of a false claim. Labour’s Jennifer Elliott ousted previous Independent councillor Bob Buchan by only 10 votes in the Fens & Greatham ward in May 2021. Sarah Sackman, of Matrix Chambers, who acted for Cllr Elliott, said Mr Buchan had brought a challenge under s.106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (false statements as to candidates).

Civil Justice Council consultation on pre-action protocols – Law Society response

The Law Society | 1 February 2022

The Civil Justice Council (CJC) is reviewing how to make pre-action protocols more effective and streamlined. We responded in December 2021. We do not believe that now is a suitable time to reform pre-action protocols because:

  • many other areas of civil justice are being reformed, and
  • the pre-action protocols work reasonably well in general (although there are some exceptions)

Please find their full response full here.

Department for Health and Social Care will continue stay on ordinary residence disputes pending final decision from Supreme Court

Local Government Lawyer | 31 January 2022

Ordinary residence disputes raising similar issues to those in the Worcestershire case will continue to be stayed until a final decision by the Supreme Court, the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed. In an update to statutory guidance the DHSC said it understood that Worcestershire County Council had lodged an application for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court. In Worcestershire County Council, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care [2021] EWCA Civ 1957 the Department last month won its appeal in a much-anticipated Court of Appeal ruling on which of two local authorities should pay for after-care services pursuant to s.117(3) of the Mental Health Act 1983 where the user has been detained, released and then, sometime later, detained again under the Act.

High Court gives permission for judicial review over impact of development on diversity and character of Brick Lane area

Local Government Lawyer | 31 January 2022

Campaigners have secured permission for a judicial review challenge over Tower Hamlets Council's grant of planning permission for a new office building on Brick Lane. The group, named Save Brick Lane, said the plan jeopardises the street's diversity and character and claimed the council did not properly consider the letters of objection which were submitted. The development at 140 Brick Lane was granted permission in November of last year and will see the construction of a five-storey office with accompanying commercial units, alongside a two-storey expansion of an adjoining building.

Supreme Court to hear appeal in dispute over effect of implementing later planning permissions and 'drop in' amendments

Local Government Lawyer | 28 January 2022

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a significant case in relation to the effect of implementing later planning permissions for the same site. A panel comprising Lord Reed, Lord Leggatt and Lord Stephens granted Hillside Parks permission to appeal in part on 13 December, although their decision has only just been revealed in the Court's latest list of permission to appeal decisions.

High Court rejects claim council was vicariously liable after employee on “frolic of her own” leaked social care records

Local Government Lawyer | 28 January 2022

In Ali v Luton Borough Council [2022] EWHC 132 (QB), Luton Borough Council was not vicariously liable for the acts of an employee who leaked sensitive data about a woman and her children, in what a High Court judge called a "classic case" of the employee being on a "frolic of her own". The claim against Luton centred around a data breach in which a council employee who had access to its social care case management records divulged information to the claimant's husband about a complaint the claimant had made against him to the police.  

Council defeats appeal over status of former bus depot

Local Government Lawyer | 27 January 2022

No charitable trust was created when the London Borough of Brent bought a former bus depot for conversion to a community centre, even though charities were involved in the transaction, the Court of Appeal has found. In London Borough of Brent v Johnson [2022] EWCA Civ 28 Lord Justice Lewison ruled against Leonard Johnson, who claimed to be a Harlesden Peoples Community Council (HPCC) trustee and the Stonebridge Community Trust. The Court of Appeal judge said the issue was whether Brent holds land wholly or partly on charitable trusts either because such a trust arose when it acquired the land or because of the way in which money was raised for its conversion into a community centre.

High Court agrees to hear claim brought by family against London borough amid row over banding, overcrowding

Local Government Lawyer | 27 January 2022

A family has gained permission to take the London Borough of Southwark to the High Court over what they claim is an unreasonable period in which they have been left in overcrowded accommodation.The family, who have not published their surname, are being represented by Public Interest Law Centre, My London has reported. It said the parents and children aged 19 and 14 lived in a studio flat and were not put on a priority housing list as they council felt their situation was of their own making.

Residents secure permission for judicial review challenge over distributor road for 4,000-home development

Local Government Lawyer | 25 January 2022

The High Court has given permission for a residents' group's judicial review challenge which claims that Wiltshire Council "did not consult appropriately" before deciding to pursue a major infrastructure project. The Campaign against Urban Sprawl to the South (of Chippenham) (CUSS), said on itsCrowdJustice page that the local authority "will have to answer to the court why it did not consult appropriately over its decision to proceed with its plan to build a HIF funded distributor road to the south of Chippenham, and why the public were excluded and had information withheld in relation to this decision".

Defendant who never moved in pleads guilty to unlawful subletting of council property

Local Government Lawyer | 25 January 2022

A defendant has pleaded guilty to subletting a council property owned by a London borough, after it emerged that he never moved in and had obtained alternative accommodation with a local authority in Yorkshire. In January 2020, officers from Barking & Dagenham Council received information that Jonathan Green was not living at his two-bedroom flat at Colne House, Barking which he obtained in 2019. Initial enquiries from council officers established Green’s links to West Yorkshire and it soon came to light that he had secured alternative accommodation with Wakefield District Council.

High Court rejects ‘failure to remove’ Human Rights Act claim brought against two councils

Local Government Lawyer | 24 January 2022

A Deputy High Court judge has dismissed a claim brought by a claimant (AB) under the Human Rights Act against two local authorities over their alleged failure to remove him from the care of his mother. The case of AB v Worcestershire County Council & Anor [2022] EWHC 115 (QB) was brought on AB’s behalf by the Official Solicitor as he did not have capacity to conduct proceedings in his own right. AB lived in Birmingham City Council's local authority area between July 2005 and November 2011, and in Worcestershire County Council's local authority area between November 2011 and January 2016.

Council agrees to reconsider decision to de-register common land around historic racecourse buildings after judicial review challenge

Local Government Lawyer | 24 January 2022

North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to reconsider its decision to de-register common land surrounding three historic buildings on Low Moor, Richmond, the site of a former horse racing track. The buildings had been erected in connection with the use of the moor as a racecourse but that use had come to an end in 1891. The buildings currently had no use.   Barristers’ chambers Francis Taylor Building said the issue was whether curtilage can include land which has no demarcation on the ground.

Council leader issues second statement on £4m food safety “abuse of process” settlement, defends former chief executive at predecessor authority

Local Government Lawyer | 18 January 2022

The Leader of North Northamptonshire has issued a second statement in a bid to clarify its decision to pay £4m to a publican who alleged abuse of process in a food safety case brought against him by East Northamptonshire District Council more than 20 years ago, and to defend a former chief executive. The case, which the legal team of claimant Dr Geoffrey Monks said was pursued on grounds that were last successfully argued in 1861, was launched two years ago against the now-disbanded East Northamptonshire Council.

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