LA Spotlight

As the tragic events in Ukraine continue to unfold, the impact for local authorities in the UK is being felt and will continue to be for some time. In this Spotlight, we consider some of the key impacts that local authorities will be responding to:

  • Refugees: The invasion of Ukraine has led to a humanitarian crisis and local authorities will, as always, have a key part to play in the UK’s response. In the last week, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUCH) announced the Homes for Ukraine scheme which will see sponsors accommodating eligible Ukrainian refugees and local authorities providing additional support. Whilst funding has been announced for the first year (out of a possible three), there will undeniably be increased pressure on services and the need to secure greater capacity through existing and new delivery arrangements.
  • Contracts and Procurement: Local authorities (together with other parts of the public sector) have contracts with entities connected with the Russian state, most notably the UK arm of Gazprom. With a clear “push” from central government to reduce relationships, authorities will need to consider the terms of their contracts and the possible delivery and financial consequences of change. In our article, ­Challenges for the public sector in reducing links with Gazprom we consider this in further detail. Aside from existing contracts, consideration also needs to be given as to how to treat such entities in active and planned procurement processes in line with public procurement law.  We understand that this aspect is under active consideration by DLUCH.
  • Cyber Security: The cyber security risk is very high at present and local authorities will need to consider their existing strategies and protections to safeguard information and the authority’s day to day operations.
  • Costs: Inflation and the cost of living crisis were around even before the events in Ukraine but the situation has been exacerbated. This is resulting in greater cost pressures for authorities on all aspects of operation, in particular as their private sector partners seek to agree revised pricing and contract terms to respond. Authorities will need to consider the financial and delivery impact of these possible changes together with the contractual and procurement framework within which they take place.

At Bevan Brittan, our multi-disciplinary team is on hand to work with authorities to respond to these challenges.

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Net Zero

UK Government opens £288m fund for green heat network projects

On 4 March 2022, the Government announced the launch of the eagerly awaited Green Heat Network Fund (GHNF).

The GHNF is a three-year, £288m capital grant fund that is open to organisations in the public, private, and third sectors in England (including local authorities) for the development of both new and extensions to existing low and zero-carbon heat networks in England.

The GHNF builds on the progress and development made by the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) and the Green Heat Network Transition Scheme.

The first round of funding opened to applicants on 14 March 2022 and closes on 27 May 2022. This will be followed by further quarterly application rounds. Funding applications can be made for heat network schemes that will deliver clean heating to homes, offices, commercial and public buildings. Funding will support the uptake of low-carbon technologies like heat pumps, solar and geothermal energy as a central heating source.

The GHNF is expected to reduce carbon emissions equivalent to taking 5.6 million cars off the road for a year.

By 2050, the scheme is expected to fund the delivery of an estimated 9.7 million tonnes of total carbon savings with the independent Committee on Climate Change estimating that, with continued support, by 2050 heat networks could meet nearly 20% of overall UK demand for heating.

We are currently advising a number of local authorities across the UK on heat and energy networks, including on GHNF applications. If you would like to discuss the GHNF or your heat network project, please get in touch with one of our Net Zero specialists Nadeem Arshad or Nathan Bradberry.


The Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2022

These Rules amend the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015, SI 2015/1568. They provide that individuals intending to undertake certain works must provide an explanation of how they have had due regard to guidance issued by the Church Buildings Council on reducing carbon emissions in England. The Rules come into force on 1 July 2022.

Publications & Guidance

Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change | 28 February 2022

The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. It also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change.

Annual fuel poverty statistics report: 2022

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 24 February 2022

The fuel poverty statistics report for 2022 includes:

  • the latest statistics on the number of households living in fuel poverty in England;
  • analysis of the composition of the fuel poor group in 2020; and
  • projections of the number of households in fuel poverty in 2021 and 2022.

UKGBC study reveals significant carbon reductions can be achieved across residential developments at little cost

UK Green Building Council | 23 February 2022

UKGBC’s new report, titled Building the Case for Net Zero: A case study for low carbon residential developments’, examines the design and cost implications of minimising embodied carbon for a real-world, low-rise residential scheme in Southwest Cambridgeshire. It shares valuable insight into the role masterplanning – such as roads, utilities and energy infrastructure – can play in the wider transition to net zero’ an area which many developers often overlook, resulting in vast amounts of carbon being minimised.

Fleet Charging Guide 2022

British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association | 23 February 2022

The BVRLA has launched a new initiative to help local authorities as they try to meet the diverse charging needs of electric fleets. With the roll-out of charging infrastructure increasingly being devolved to local government, the association’s new ‘Fleet Charging Guide’ highlights some key fleet use cases and how they can best be supported on their zero-emission journey.

Climate-related financial disclosures for companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs)

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 21 February 2022

This guidance is to help in-scope companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) understand how to meet new mandatory climate-related financial disclosure requirements under the Companies (Strategic Report) (Climate-related Financial Disclosure) Regulations 2022 and the Limited Liability Partnerships (Climate-related Financial Disclosure) Regulations 2022.

Future support for low carbon heat

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 16 February 2022

Published the consultation final stage impact assessment for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.


Treasury urged to scrap tax on energy retrofits to reduce energy costs and reach climate goals

edie | 8 March 2022

Industry body the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) has launched a new campaign urging the Treasury to scrap VAT on energy retrofits for the UK's building stock, in a bid to combat spiralling energy costs. The campaign, consisting of an open letter with 23 signatories including 16 ADE members, calls on the Treasury to remove VAT on energy efficiency retrofits to be reduced to 0%.

Indirect effects and environmental impact assessment

Local Government Lawyer | 4 March 2022

On 17 February 2022, and by a majority, the Court of Appeal held in Finch On Behalf of the Weald Action Group, R (On the Application Of) v Surrey County Council & Ors [2022] EWCA Civ 187 that the County Council's decision to grant planning permission for the commercial extraction of oil at Horse Hill in Surrey was lawful. The main issue in the case concerned the adequacy of the environmental impact assessment ("EIA"), and focused on the requirement to include within the EIA an assessment of the significant indirect effects of the development on the climate.

London council launches community municipal investment for green projects

Local Gov | 4 March 2022

The community municipal investment scheme will enable residents to invest from £5 into the fund to help pay for local projects such as installing 80 further electric vehicle charging points, installing solar panel on public buildings and continuing the rollout of the council’s healthy school streets initiative.

Report: UK risks missing net-zero due to poor engagement with households, businesses and councils

edie | 2 March 2022

The UK Government still has "no clear plan" for funding the transition to net-zero and risks losing the confidence of organisations that will prove key to delivering a low-carbon future, including businesses and local councils. That is the damning conclusion of a new report out on 2 March from the Public Accounts Committee. 

Net Zero Strategy: legal challenge granted permission

Friends of the Earth | 2 March 2022

Friends of the Earth has been granted permission to proceed with its legal challenge against the UK government over two of its flagship climate strategies which the group deem unlawful. The Judicial Review, which will be heard at the High Court, will examine both the government’s Net Zero Strategy and its Heat and Buildings Strategy. It will be considered on the basis that the NZS does not comply with the Climate Change Act 2008, which Friends of the Earth campaigned for and played a key role in securing.

Council budgets for recycling changes to meet net-zero targets

MRW | 28 February 2022

South Cambridgeshire District Council has committed millions of pounds to new recycling vehicles, equipment and service changes as part of its strategy to tackle climate change. Councillors approved a budget for 2022-23 to help the authority halve carbon emissions by 2030 and meet net zero by 2050.

UK Housing Review 2022 shows faster progress is needed to tackle poor energy efficiency of older homes

Chartered Institute of Housing | 24 February 2022

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) upcoming 2022 UK Housing Review reveals that lack of clear government strategies and insufficient financial incentives are undermining progress on decarbonisation in the residential sector. The UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe. One in five homes were built over a century ago, presenting a huge challenge in making them healthy, safe and energy efficient.

Households save £200 on bills with energy efficiency investment

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 21 February 2022

Thousands of households across England will see energy bills reduced by up to £200 a year as government announces £67m to install insulation and clean heating.

Energy price crisis: Influential industry bodies call for scrapping of VAT on building retrofits

edie | 18 February 2022

The UK Government should take a broader look at the role energy efficiency could play in shielding the public from the energy price crisis, including a temporary scrappage of VAT on measures to improve existing buildings, industry experts are urging. Currently, all retrofit works for existing buildings, such as the installation of triple glazing or insulation, have a 20% VAT rate applied. Industry bodies including the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and the MCS Charitable Foundation are calling for the rate to be lowered to zero in light of the ongoing energy price crisis.

EV infrastructure: Government under mounting pressure to upgrade vehicle charging network

edie | 18 February 2022

On 17 February, consumer organisation Which? published a policy briefing on ‘building an EV charging infrastructure that is fit for the future’. The briefing argues that owning and charging an EV is not, at present, a “realistic option” for people without access to off-street parking at home, drawing on recent consumer research revealing that 59% of UK drivers have no intention to buy an EV, with 44% highlighting charging anxiety as a key barrier.

Plans announced for city centre's 'zero emissions zone'

Local Government Chronicle | 18 February 2022

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire CC have announced plans to create a zero emissions zone in Oxford city centre as part of efforts to transition to a zero-carbon transport network. Alongside the zero emissions zone, which will see almost all non-electric vehicles charged to drive in the city centre, the proposals also include a city-wide workplace parking levy.

UK Government not on track to achieve green jobs target, latest official data suggests

edie | 17 February 2022

There was "no significant change" in the number of people employed in the UK's green economy, or in the level of turnover generated in low-carbon sectors, between 2015 and 2020, new Government figures have revealed. The Office for National Statistics' (ONS) latest annual survey of the green economy has been published, revealing that there were still fewer people working in green sectors in 2020 than there were in 2014.

Low-carbon heat: Leeds gives green light for district heating network expansion

edie | 15 February 2022

Leeds City Council has approved plans to expand the city's district heating network - a scheme that will potentially almost double the amount of low-carbon heat supplied to businesses and homes each year.

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Delivering Value

Living with Covid-19

As the lifting of the restrictions take effect, local authorities continue with the business as usual in managing the day-to-day impact of Covid-19 on the local economy and public health challenges.

The government has published its COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 , however, from a local government perspective, there is much reassurance required to manage the coming months and years as the sector adjusts to the challenges ahead.

The LGA has also published its findings (Local outbreak management cash will still be needed as part of Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ strategy) which highlight the need for support funding shortfall in managing the pressures in school and care home settings. The government’s response to support these settings in managing acute factors: staffing challenges, increase in staffing costs together with spiralling utilities is yet unclear.

Whilst there is certainly scope for a review of opportunities for innovation in public health, and managing health and social care inequalities, this requires meaningful review in the context of forthcoming changes on the Integrated Care Systems. Again, the sector awaits the detailed regulations putting the same into effect and in the meantime, continues to juggle dialogue with NHS colleagues during a period of uncertainty.


The Council Tax (Demand Notices and Reduction Schemes) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

These Regulations require local authorities in England responsible for the administration and collection of council tax (billing authorities) to provide information about the Energy Rebate Scheme 2022 to households in council tax bands A-D who receive a bill in respect of 1 April 2022. These Regulations came into force on 12 February 2022. For more information on this legislation, please see the explanatory memorandum.

The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

The purpose of these Regulations is to amend the expiry date of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (2014 Regulations) so that they cease to have effect after 31 March 2025. The Regulations come into force on 30 March 2022. For more information on this legislation, please see the explanatory memorandum.

Publications & Guidance

Social care 360

The King's Fund | 1 March 2022

Our latest 360 review outlines and analyses 12 key trends in adult social care in England over recent year, encompassing the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic. Using a variety of publicly-available data, it provides a uniquely rounded – ‘360 degree’ – view of the sector.

Revoking vaccination as a condition of deployment across all health and social care

Department of Health and Social Care | 1 March 2022

The government conducted a public consultation from 9 to 16 February 2022 on whether to revoke provisions which require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment in health and social care settings. This is the formal government response to that consultation. The government’s response confirms that they intend to proceed with bringing forward regulations to revoke vaccination as a condition of deployment.

Social care charging for local authorities: 2022 to 2023

Department of Health and Social Care | 28 February 2022

Information for local authorities on charging for care and support.

Children's social care providers: fees and inspections 2022

Department for Education | 28 February 2022

Government response to the consultation on proposed changes to the fees and frequency of inspection regulations for 2022 to 2023. This report presents analysis of responses we have received, along with the government’s response and the next steps.

Early help is the best option for children and families. We need to protect it

Action for Children | 28 February 2022

Today we launch a new report, “Too Little, Too Late” which looks at the number of children in England who get early help, for the first time. It finds that local authorities need more support to expand vital early help services and turn the tide against late intervention.

Ombudsman’s COVID report highlights how councils and care providers coped

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 24 February 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic placed unprecedented pressure on councils and care providers, and a new report from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman analyses just how those organisations coped. Today’s report, which analyses its cases over the first 18 months of the pandemic, shows that, by and large, councils and care providers weathered the unprecedented pressures they were under. But, when things did go wrong it had a serious impact on people’s lives.

The council tax rebate 2022-23 – billing authority guidance

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 23 February 2022

Guidance to billing authorities on administering the council tax rebate to support households with the rising cost of living.

Final local government finance report 2022 to 2023

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 21 February 2022

This report sets out the aspects of the settlement which will require specific approval by the House of Commons, including the amount and basis of distribution of the revenue support grant in 2022 to 2023.

Social care reform: an independent review by Baroness Cavendish

Department of Health and Social Care | 21 February 2022

A report looking at how the government can lock in the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic to build a more robust, sustainable and joined-up system of social care.

Social care reform: government response to Lords Select Committee report

Department of Health and Social Care | 21 February 2022

This command paper sets out the government’s response to the recommendations made by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in their report Social care funding: time to end a national scandal. The government welcomes the committee’s report and is committed to a comprehensive programme of reform for adult social care.

COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19

Cabinet Office | 21 February 2022

This document outlines the government’s plan for living with COVID-19. This plan - underpinned by vaccines - will remove the remaining legal domestic restrictions while continuing to protect people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and maintaining resilience. The government will also secure innovations and opportunities from the COVID-19 response.


Cost of living crisis drives rising demand

Local Government Chronicle | 4 March 2022

The cost of living crisis is rising up the agenda for councils as spiralling inflation, rents, energy and food bills drive rising demand for support. With inflation at a 30-year high, councillors also remain concerned that the government’s council tax rebate scheme designed to help with the cost of energy bills will not target those most in need.

Children’s social worker shortage reaches five-year high

Local Government Association | 3 March 2022

The Local Government Association is concerned that latest workforce data shows the number of social workers leaving their roles in 2021 was 4,995, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year.

MP calls for clarity on support for councils to manage tax rebate

Local Gov | 2 March 2022

Clive Betts, chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee, has written to Michael Gove to raise a series of concerns about the rebate. This includes how qualifying households without a bank account will receive the payment, the access to the rebate for those not paying their council tax by direct debit, and what happens if a landlord pays the council tax on behalf of their tenant.

Solihull ordered to improve children's services

The MJ | 1 March 2022

The Government has ordered Solihull MBC to make urgent improvements to its children’s social care services following ‘serious’ concerns over how it protects vulnerable children. A joint inspectorates’ report published last week - commissioned following the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes - found children in need of help and protection in Solihull wait too long for their initial assessment.

Pay increase agreed but strike threat remains for some

Local Government Chronicle | 1 March 2022

The 1.75% pay increase for local government employees has been agreed by the employers and two of the top unions, meaning staff could see it in their pay packets from April. Both GMB and Unison have agreed the pay offer, which relates to the current financial year, with the Local Government Association on behalf of employers. It is applicable to rates of pay from 1 April 2021 onwards and the LGA has encouraged employers “to implement this pay award as swiftly as possible.”

Councils could face budget blackhole amid growing concerns about underfunded adult social care reforms

Local Government Association | 25 February 2022

As councils plan budgets for next year, concerns are growing that the Government’s reforms to adult social care are underfunded and risk their implementation as well as exacerbating existing pressures, the Local Government Association is warning.

Youth services funding reduction could pay for over 1,000 youth workers

Local Gov | 24 February 2022

More than 1,000 youth and community support workers could be recruited using money removed from a flagship government fund for youth services, according to new analysis by the Local Government Association. The LGA says that while government investment in facilities and buildings is important, there should be a greater focus on staff and work programmes, and that wider investment is needed so other local areas can benefit.

One in 10 people falsely claim council tax discounts

Local Gov | 24 February 2022

One in 10 people know someone dishonestly claiming a discount on their council tax bill, the UK’s fraud prevention service has found.

Government issues direct debit plea

The MJ | 24 February 2022

Local authorities have raised concerns about the impact on workloads in areas with low numbers of people making payments by direct debit. The proportion of households not paying council tax by direct debit is as high as 57% in some London boroughs such as Haringey, leading figures including chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, Rob Whiteman, to question whether the programme was ‘deliverable’ in the short-term. See the Government’s plea here: Households urged to get ready for £150 council tax rebate.

Senior management workforce warning

The MJ | 24 February 2022

In an update to local authorities this month, employers’ secretary at the Local Government Association, Naomi Cooke, warned that the sector’s historic difficulties in recruiting professional staff such as social workers and lawyers was now extending to a ‘reducing pool of applicants’ for senior roles. Ms Cooke wrote: ‘Beyond the specialist professions, councils are also increasingly reporting difficulties in recruiting senior managers and many are conscious of the proximity of many senior leaders to retirement age and a reducing pool of applicants for existing roles.’

New taskforce to level-up maternity care and tackle disparities

Department of Health and Social Care | 23 February 2022

A new Maternity Disparities Taskforce will tackle disparities in maternity care experienced by women from ethnic minority groups and those living in deprived areas. The taskforce will be established by Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care Maria Caulfield and co-chaired by Chief Midwifery Officer, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE to make real progress in understanding the reasons for poor outcomes in maternity care.

Johnson under renewed pressure to scrap National Insurance surcharge

The MJ | 22 February 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under renewed pressure to cancel the NHS and social care National Insurance surcharge after a boost to the public finances. Buoyant tax revenues for January contributed to a £2.9bn surplus for the month - equal to £5.4bn less borrowing than January 2021 - although last month’s figure was still worse than January 2020 before the pandemic.

Local outbreak management cash will still be needed as part of Government’s ‘Living with Covid’ strategy

Local Government Association | 21 February 2022

The Local Government Association (LGA) – who represent councils in England and Wales – and the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) are warning that without the funding extension, they may be unprepared to tackle new variants and manage COVID-19 in local schools and care homes due to the loss of staff with relevant expertise.

Storm Eunice forces councils to close services

The MJ | 18 February 2022

Councils across the UK have been forced to suspend public services, close schools and provide emergency help for rough sleepers due to Storm Eunice. The Met Office has issued rare red weather warnings due to expected 'damaging and disruptive' winds that could be a danger to life.

Herts teen left without proper SEND support for three years

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 17 February 2022

A teenager on the autism spectrum was left without a significant proportion of his agreed special educational needs support for up to three years by Hertfordshire County Council, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

Council to bring some services back in-house

Local Gov | 17 February 2022

Staffordshire County Council will bring a small number of services back in-house following a review of its 10-year joint venture with Capita. Entrust was set up in 2013 to deliver a wide range of support services to schools including curriculum support, HR and schools finance and education improvement services.

Further push to help unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Home Office | 15 February 2022

The Home Office has stepped up efforts to help unaccompanied asylum seeking children, by directing all local authorities with children’s services to provide care placements for them, as part of the New Plan for Immigration.

LGA warns of 'devastating' impact of MRP reforms

Local Government Chronicle | 14 February 2022

Council budgets could face a further £700m pressure in two years time under plans to reform the guidance around minimum revenue provision, the Local Government Association has warned. The government is currently consulting on changes to the prudential code and capital framework, which would tighten up the rules around MRP for local authorities from 2023-24.

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Place & Growth

Levelling up the detail

At the end of February, the County Councils Network and Grant Thornton released a report, designed to explore the challenges and opportunities for county authorities in the levelling-up agenda. If levelling up is to truly be effective as a policy, then it’s vital that a deep and rich understanding of place sits at the heart of it. Local leaders must be able to identify the priorities for their places, make robust cases for investment, understand what works and why, and measure change.

The findings of the report were that, if levelling up is to be a success it’s more important than ever that:

  1. devolution is rolled out at pace and across all corners of the country;
  2. solutions are tailored to local needs;
  3. competition between places is minimised through transparent and clear messages;
  4. a combination of capital and revenue funding is made available and that places have the flexibility to use that funding to respond to local circumstances and support local ambitions; and
  5. decision-making is joined up across government departments.

The report concluded that if the recommended steps can be taken, local leaders will be given the opportunity to transform their areas and make a difference to their communities.

For further help and advice on this matter, please contact Rebecca Pendlebury.


Dormant Assets Act 2022

The Dormant Assets Scheme - currently used by 35 banks and building societies to release £800m - will be expanded to include the insurance, pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors. A consultation will be launched this summer to look at what causes should benefit in England to help level up opportunities for young people and communities across the country. See the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s press release here: Measures to release £880m from dormant assets to boost opportunities across the country.

Publications & Guidance

New three-year plan focused on meeting unprecedented increase in demand 

Housing Ombudsmen Service | 3 March 2022

We have published our three-year corporate plan for 2022-25 setting out our response to an unprecedented increase in demand for our service and how we will work across the sector to promote fairness through our investigations, strengthen local complaint handling and encourage learning to improve services.

Supporting modern slavery victims: guidance and good practice for council homelessness services

Local Government Association | 3 March 2022

This new Local Government Association (LGA) guidance on modern slavery has been developed specifically for council officers leading and working in homelessness and housing services.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021: repeal of the Vagrancy Act 1824 factsheet

Home Office | 28 February 2022

This factsheet explains why and how the Government will repeal the Vagrancy Act 1924, it also answers frequently asked questions.

Mayor to help leaseholders get vital building safety information

London City Hall | 28 February 2022

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today set out how he expects landlords and managing agents to help London leaseholders get hold of vital EWS1 building safety forms. The new guidance published by City Hall today is designed to set out how landlords can raise standards and provide a better service to leaseholders when it comes to dealing with EWS1 forms.

Homelessness Monitor 2022

Crisis UK | 22 February 2022

The Homelessness Monitor: England 2022, published by Crisis, is the latest report in a longitudinal study providing independent analysis of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in England. This tenth annual report by Heriot-Watt University, updates our account of how homelessness stands in England in 2021, or as close to 2021 as data availability allows. It also highlights emerging trends and forecasts some of the likely future changes, identifying the developments likely to have the most significant impacts on homelessness.

Housing Ombudsman’s latest Insight report shows complaints continuing to rise

Housing Ombudsman | 22 February 2022

We have published our latest Insight report covering October to December 2021 which shows a 53% increase in the volume of enquiries and complaints received compared to the same quarter in 2020. The service received 6,313 enquiries and complaints between October and December 2021.  We found maladministration in 47% of cases during the period, an increase on the previous quarter. The number of orders and recommendations issued to landlords also increased by 33%, with the Ombudsman making improvements for residents on 1,300 occasions.

Flooding: risk management information for councils

Local Government Association | 20 February 2022

Information about roles and responsibilities relating to the Flood and Water Management Act.

Social Housing Reform in England: What Next?

House of Commons Library | 16 February 2022

The Government's social housing white paper is intended to deliver transformational change for social housing residents in England. This briefing outlines the measures set out in the white paper, stakeholder reaction and the next steps.


LA maintenance funding frozen after cut fears

Local Gov | 4 March 2022

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced individual allocations for all local highway authorities outside London and the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) – with cash frozen at 2021-2022 levels for the next three years. Given the current rates of inflation, one sector insider told Highways this could represent a real-terms cut of close to 20% in the first year alone.

Over £150m provided to safeguard local transport services as the country emerges from the pandemic

Department for Transport | 1 March 2022

The funding package announced today (1 March 2022) builds on almost 2 years’ worth of unprecedented government support to keep bus and light rail networks running, with around £2bn made available to over 160 operators during the pandemic.

Transport authorities call for powers to ensure e-scooter services meet local needs

Urban Transport Group | 1 March 2022

The Urban Transport Group is calling for a new national enabling framework to give locally accountable transport authorities the option to regulate key aspects of micromobility rental services (like e-scooters) in line with local needs and circumstances, in a new report, published today. 

Government agrees £200m deal to keep vital Transport for London services running

Department for Transport | 25 February 2022

The government has today (25 February 2022) agreed a fourth extraordinary funding settlement for Transport for London (TfL) worth £200m, allowing the capital’s transport network to continue to operate while representing value for money for all taxpayers.

Derelict sites transformed into new homes to level up the country

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 24 February 2022

Derelict and underused brownfield sites across the country will be transformed into new homes, to level up the country and create thriving communities for people to live and work, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced today (24 February 2022). West Midlands, Greater Manchester and the Tees Valley Combined Authorities have been awarded their share of £30m funding to regenerate brownfield sites across the 3 regions and create 2,500 new homes.

Number of rough sleepers reaches 8-year low

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 24 February 2022

The annual rough sleeping statistics, published today (24 February 2022), show that rates have fallen for a fourth year in a row with a 9% reduction in rough sleeping compared to last year. Numbers have fallen in every region of England, taking levels to an 8-year low overall.

Over 100 places to see improved access to culture and arts across England

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport | 24 February 2022

Access to arts and culture across the country will be transformed with plans to increase and better distribute funding for the sector to previously overlooked or neglected areas. This aim is to generate more opportunities for people in the regions, with more arts jobs on offer and better access to cultural activities so people do not have to travel as far to see world-class arts.

IMF: Wealth tax needed to fund ‘levelling-up’

Public Finance | 23 February 2022

In its yearly assessment of the UK economy published today, the organisation said that the funding needed for the government’s flagship policy exceeds the current envelope. The IMF said raising the top two bands of income tax by two percentage points, introducing a 1% levy on individual wealth exceeding £2bn, and reformed national insurance and dividend taxes, would increase government income by 1.2% of GDP.

Law criminalising homeless people to be scrapped

Local Gov | 23 February 2022

The Government has announced it will be repealing the 1824 Vagrancy Act that criminalises rough sleeping and begging in England and Wales. The Government has now tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to repeal the act.

Gove: Taxpayer ‘backstop’ for cladding remediation

Public Finance | 22 February 2022

Speaking to the Parliamentary Levelling up, Housing and Communities Committee yesterday, Gove conceded that the “government has to share some of that responsibility” of the estimated £4bn cost of cladding remediation on buildings between 11-18 metres high. He told the committee there has been practical difficulties in pursuing developers, as some of the “most egregious transgressors” are companies based outside the UK.

Ministers ask businesses to help in drive to end rough sleeping

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 22 February 2022

Business leaders are being urged to give jobs to former rough sleepers in a bid to help keep people off the streets for good. At a meeting with top executives today (22 February 2022), ministers called on business and charity leaders to be more generous in offering employment opportunities to former homeless people, challenging the stigma around giving jobs to people who been living on the streets. The drive is part of a £2bn package of funding to help eradicate rough sleeping by targeting the root causes of the problem and ending rough sleeping by the close of this Parliament.

Organisations call for nature to become a 'legal right' under Levelling Up agenda

edie | 21 February 2022

More than 60 organisations have launched a new campaign calling for a "legal right" to be able to access nature to form a key part of the Government's ongoing Levelling Up reforms. The coalition has launched a petition and written to Secretary of State Michael Gove calling for Government to improve access to natural spaces as part of the Levelling Up agenda. This would include legal duties for developers and public bodies to provide access for both green and blue spaces for citizens. The organisations are also calling for funding to be extended through the Levelling Up Fund.

Government sign-off required to 'unlock' UKSPF

The MJ | 18 February 2022

Councils will have to draw up investment plans to access the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF), the Government has revealed. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has disclosed more details about the new ‘local investment plans’ mentioned in the Levelling Up White Paper. Councils will be asked to submit plans over the summer that will have to be signed off to ‘unlock’ funding. They will have to ‘set out what interventions they are choosing to prioritise’ and must include ‘measurable outcomes’.

£174m to provide homes for 2,900 rough sleepers

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

Rough sleepers across the country will be supported off the streets and into long-term homes with £174m funding boost, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced today (11 February 2022). The funding, which forms part of the government’s Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme 2021-24, will create over 2,900 move-on homes between 2021 and 2024 as part of the £433m programme.

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Governance & Reorganisation

Signs of Government Support for Hybrid Meetings?

‘Exceptional’ financial support still not enough…

The London Borough of Croydon has recently managed to avoid a third s114 notice when, after months of uncertainty and having to wait weeks longer than other councils in the same predicament, the Government agreed to a £120m capitalisation loan, the largest of any of the “exceptional support” offered by ministers.

However the direction is £30m less than the £150m requested by the Council, leaving a budget gap of £79m over the next three years and further uncertainty as to the Council’s ability to balance the books in the future.

Meanwhile, Slough Borough Council has been informed by the Department for Levelling up, Housing and

Communities that it will be considered for an unprecedented £307m loan to cover its deficits but only if it can first satisfy a host of conditions to demonstrate its financial sustainability. The Council has said it intends to cover the cost of capitalisation directions through the sale of around £600m of assets, which would also help reduce the level of borrowing. However the forecast directions are predicated on the Council delivering annual savings of £20m, meaning the level of support could rise. 

A number of authorities are facing some very difficult financial choices including Luton, Nottingham City, Peterborough City, Eastbourne, Wirral and Bexley, and this looks set to grow.

Along with limits on the level of council tax increase possible without a referendum, at the end of last year as part of levelling up plans Communities Secretary Michael Gove indicated that he was minded to defer an increase in the proportion of business rates that local authorities are able to retain. Business rates as a source of stable income decreased radically during the pandemic, falling by almost 50%, casting further uncertainty over this stream of funding.

Earlier this month former Communities Secretary and Chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, Lord Pickles, expressed his views in an interview with Public Finance that Covid-19 and its impact on the high street had merely accelerated the decline of the business rates tax which was effectively finished as a source of income.

The road to financial stability looks anything but...

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

Publications & Guidance

Committee on Standards in Public Life announces review on leadership and public standards

Committee on Standards in Public Life | 8 March 2022

The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life has today launched ‘Leading in Practice’, a review examining the role of leadership in embedding the Principles of Public Life in public sector organisations.

Devolution annual report 2020 to 2021

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 28 February 2022

This annual report brings together information about devolution agreements reached or implemented between government and areas between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.

Progress on devolution in England: government response to the Select Committee report

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

This is the government’s response to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee’s report on progress on devolution in England published 1 October 2021.

The LGA Cyber 360 Framework

Local Government Association | 24 February 2022

The LGA Cyber 360 Framework uses a sector-led, collaborative method to provide expert guidance and feedback to local authority senior leadership and management – highlighting good practice that councils can employ to improve their cyber security posture and practices.

House of Lords - Judicial Review and Courts Bill

UK Parliament | 23 February 2022

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published its twelfth report of Session 2021-22 on the Judicial Review and Courts Bill. The Judicial Review and Courts Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 21 July 2021 and brought to the House of Lords on 26 January 2022. Second reading was on 7 February and committee stage is scheduled to begin on 21 February.

Local Government Pension Scheme investments

House of Commons Library| 23 February 2022

Looks at the framework within with Local Government Pension Scheme funds in England and Wales make investment decisions, how they can and should take into account environment, social and governance issues, including the risks and opportunities associated with climate change and investment in infrastructure.

Letter from Commissioners: Strategy and Policy Statement measures in the Elections Bill

Electoral Commission | 21 February 2022

The Electoral Commission has published a letter from Commissioners on Strategy and Policy Statement measures in the Elections Bill. In the letter, the Electoral Commission urge the Government to reconsider the measures seeing to change the oversight arrangements of the Electoral Commission. They state that they believe that ‘the introduction of a Strategy and Policy Statement is inconsistent with the role that an independent commission plays in a healthy democracy’ which is ‘fundamental to maintain confidence and legitimacy’.


Lawyers raise worries over UN rapporteur for ‘unlawful’ LGPS intervention

Public Finance | 4 March 2022

A United Nations official was acting outside of his powers in advising Local Government Pensions Scheme funds from divesting in companies linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict, a legal group has claimed.  In November, Michael Lynk, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory, wrote to LGPS funds asking them to review and divest from companies linked to the Israeli “settlement economy”.  

‘Shambolic’ audit system slammed for missed deadlines

Local Government Chronicle | 3 March 2022

Councillors have taken aim at auditors for significant delays, as it has emerged that 85% of councils submitted their draft 2020-21 accounts before the statutory deadline, but only 9% of audits were then completed in time by auditors.

Working group to be formed on council data requests

The MJ | 3 March 2022

The Government is to form a working group to understand what data it is ‘feasible’ for councils to report to Whitehall more frequently. It comes after the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched a ‘comprehensive review’ of pre-existing local authority revenue, capital and borrowing statistics last summer to identify ‘how well data needs are currently being met’ and ‘lessons learned’ from the monthly COVID monitoring information.

A tough sell: LGPS faces Russian divestment challenge

Public Finance | 2 March 2022

Local government pension schemes face tough decisions on ridding themselves of any Russian investments, according to the secretary to the LGPS Scheme Advisory Board.

Renewed fiscal devo push

The MJ | 2 March 2022

The Government has revealed it is in talks with local areas about extra financial powers as Michael Gove hinted he was pushing for fiscal devolution. Appearing in front of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee this week, levelling up secretary Mr Gove warned ‘all finance ministries guard control over tax-raising powers very jealously’ but said there had been ‘intense discussions with my Government colleagues about what we can do in the future’ around devolving tax-raising powers.

Slough to request £478m of Government support

The MJ | 1 March 2022

Slough Council has estimated it will need £478m of capitalisation directions or other support from the Government to balance its books. The unprecedented figure is described as ‘astonishing’ in a report by officers to councillors, who are due to meet next week.

Minister warns of risks of devolving 'volatile' taxes

Public Finance | 1 March 2022

Speaking to MPs yesterday, levelling up minister Neil O’Brien, said that the government is open to discussions with mayoral combined authorities over increased financial devolution, calling it a “big piece of unfinished business”. However, he told the Levelling up, Housing and Communities and Committee that the stability of local government finances could be impacted if they relied on 'volatile' taxes such as stamp duty land tax.

Jackie Weaver and the new era for council meetings

BBC News | 1 March 2022

"Jackie Weaver, you have no authority here!" This immortal line, a gift to a pandemic-weary world, would probably never have been uttered had lockdown not forced local councils to meet virtually. But with lockdowns - hopefully - a thing of the past, local councils in England have been wrestling with the question of whether they should continue to live stream their sessions. 

New plans to protect people from anonymous trolls online

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport | 25 February 2022

Over the past year people in the public eye, including England’s Euro 2020 footballers, have suffered horrendous racist abuse. Female politicians have received abhorrent death and rape threats, and there is repeated evidence of ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ people being subject to coordinated harassment and trolling. So today the government is confirming it will add two new duties to its Online Safety Bill to strengthen the law against anonymous online abuse.

Renewed s114 fears for Croydon amid wait for loan approval

Local Government Chronicle | 24 February 2022

Croydon LBC faces a new financial collapse amid concerns it misused £73m - which may have to be slashed from its revenue budget - as it also faces an anxious wait to discover whether ministers will back a £25m capitalisation loan.

East midlands leaders hold devo discussions

Local Government Chronicle | 24 February 2022

The leaders of four east midlands councils have said they will work together to consider new devolved powers, reviving the prospect of a mayoral devolution deal. Nottinghamshire CC with Nottingham City Council and Derbyshire CC with Derby City Council were announced as two of the nine areas set to pilot the government’s new county deal programme.

MPs approve amendment restricting LGPS ‘political divestment’

Public Finance | 24 February 2022

Changes approved during the third reading of the Public Service Pension and Judicial Offices Bill in the House of Commons this week would allow the secretary of state to issue guidance preventing public pension funds making investment decisions that conflict with the UK’s foreign and defence policies.

Ministers stand firm on mayors

The MJ | 23 February 2022

Ministers have poured cold water on councils’ hopes for extended powers without including mayors in their devolution deals, The MJ understands. Council leaders have been told during ministerial meetings that areas pursuing a ‘level two’ deal – without a directly-elected mayor – will not be granted any new powers beyond those detailed in the Levelling Up White Paper.

Local government groups issue model motion for councils to show support for choice to hold remote and hybrid meetings

Local Government Lawyer | 23 February 2022

Five local government organisations including the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) have asked councils to consider passing a motion and writing to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to show their support for local authorities to be able to hold remote and hybrid meetings.

Two dozen South East councils thought to be at risk of Section 114s

Local Government Chronicle | 23 February 2022

Civil servants are reported to be concerned about the financial sustainability of a "couple of dozen" councils in the South East, it has emerged, with some council leaders in the region warning changes to rules on debt repayments will hit their spending plans.

LEPs remain in dark over future

The MJ | 23 February 2022

Key questions about the future functions and funding of local enterprise partnerships (LEP) remain unanswered weeks after the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper (LUWP). The LEP review concluded at the same time as the White Paper but a separate document outlining its full findings is not expected to be published. A report to a meeting of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP today said ‘clarification is urgently required’ and ‘further detail is needed before the short- and medium-term future direction can be comprehensively understood’.

Delay to cyber funding

The MJ | 23 February 2022

Millions of pounds of funding to help local authorities improve their cyber-resilience may not reach council coffers for months, The MJ understands. As Ukraine’s banks and defence ministry have been targetted by online attacks amid increasing tensions in eastern Europe, a private letter to council chief executives urged councils to ‘strengthen your cyber-security posture’ and ‘make sure that you have comprehensive, up-to-date incident response plans and continuity measures’.

EXCLUSIVE: Districts down over levelling up details

The MJ | 17 February 2022

Disappointed district councils will make their case to the Government next week after the Levelling Up White Paper side-lined them from devolution plans. This month’s long-awaited White Paper struck a blow to districts when it proposed legislation to establish a new form of combined authority model to be made up of upper-tier local authorities only.

Croydon to sell properties to avoid capitalisation borrowing

Public Finance | 15 February 2022

Croydon said the sale of a youth centre and land from a former nursery, both in New Addington, are part of a wider asset disposal plan, to fund £120m of government flexibilities. The authority received £70m through a capitalisation direction in 2019-20, allowing it to use capital receipts to fund revenue spending, with a further £50m expected this year.

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Contract Management

The Provider Selection Regime

The Department of Health & Social Care on 21 February 2022 commenced a further consultation on the plans for the new NHS Provider Selection Regime (“PSR”). This will be of interest particularly to local authorities looking to award healthcare contract/services as part of their public health functions.

The PSR is intended to provide a regulatory framework for the award of healthcare contracts by NHS commissioners and local authorities that sits outside the formal public procurement regime and means that those contracts will not need to be procured in accordance with the rules in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 or their successor legislation. The consultation is intended to seek views on specific details of the plans in order to facilitate the drafting of the new regulations rather than re-open the original consultation which looked at the proposed structure of the regime in high level terms.

What do we know now? 

There were two very key aspects of the PSR that were unclear based on the original consultation: the date it was due to be implemented and its scope. These have now been clarified (although the former only to a degree).

The consultation confirms that the PSR will be introduced via a new set of regulations made under the Health and Care Bill and that, while it will not be in place at the point Integrated Care Boards are due to come into effect in July 2022, the intention is that it will be established as soon as possible after that point. Health commissioners are, however, expressly encouraged not to make future commissioning plans on the assumption that the PSR will come into effect by any particular date.

The consultation also helpfully provides for the first time some clarity on the scope of healthcare services intended to be covered by the PSR. It also provides additional clarity on specific changes, including:

  • Categorisation of decision-making;
  • Application of key criteria;
  • Transparency and standstill;
  • Mixed procurement (i.e. where a contract covers more than just healthcare services);
  • Thresholds for “considerable change”;
  • Contract variations; and
  • Patient Choice.

You can find out more in our article from February 2021 which explains the proposed structure of the PSR as set out in the initial consultation and our more recent article on the Provider Selection Regime (March 2022) which explains the specific changes in the further consultation.

If you would like to know more, or you need our advice on how these proposed changes may impact you, please contact Fran Mussellwhite.

Publications & Guidance  

Guidance for local authorities reviewing contracts with Russian state-linked suppliers

Lawyers in Local Government | 2 March 2022

LLG are aware that many local authorities are reported to be reviewing any contracts held with Russian suppliers linked to the Putin regime. The presence of such suppliers may be particularly likely in certain sectors (for example in the energy sector).

Preparing for PFI contract expiry

Infrastructure and Projects Authority | 28 February 2022

‘Preparing for PFI contract expiry’ provides practical guidance to contracting authorities on managing the expiry of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts and the transition to future services provision. This guidance is aimed at PFI contracting authorities, including Senior Responsible Owners (SROs) and PFI contract management teams and applies to PFI contracts in England across all sectors.

Common Framework Scrutiny: Public Procurement

UK Parliament | 21 February 2022

The Cabinet Office has published the provisional draft Common framework for Public Procurement. This Common Framework has been devised and agreed between the UK Government and the devolved administration in Northern Ireland. The Committee invites written evidence submissions on the appropriateness, effectiveness and extent of this Common Framework. The deadline for written submissions concluded on 14 March 2022 at 17.00.


Coronavirus (COVID-19), business interruption and NDDA clauses—confirmation of cover

Corbin & King Ltd and others v AXA Insurance UK plc [2022] EWHC 409 (Comm)

25 February 2022

The much-anticipated judgment in the Corbin & King v Axa case was handed down on 25 February 2022, holding that the Denial of Access (Non Damage) clause (the ‘NDDA clause’) was triggered by the relevant actions of the government in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and that the claimants were entitled to an indemnity for losses resulting from the forced closure of and/or restricted access to insured premises. Further, the court found that the claimants were not only entitled to three separate indemnities (to correspond with the three distinct closures/restrictions) but that each insured premises had separate claims (with separate maximum indemnity limits). The judgment will no doubt affect hundreds of business interruption claims with policies that have the same or similar NDDA clauses. More policyholders will have cover. Further, those with cover may (depending on the particular policy wording) be entitled to recover more.

Exemptions in public procurement for intelligence activities (Excession Technologies v Police Digital Service)

Excession Technologies Ltd v Police Digital Service [2022] EWHC 413 (TCC)

25 February 2022

The court was asked to determine preliminary issues arising in a challenge by Excession Technologies Ltd (Excession) in respect of a procurement exercise carried out by the Police Digital Service (PDS) for the appointment of a contractor to a framework agreement for the provision of computer and IT services for covert surveillance operation rooms. The court found that PDS were entitled to exclude the entirety of the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011 (the DSPCR) under Regulation 7(1)(b) (for the purpose of intelligence activities) because of the sensitivity of the subject-matter of the procurement. While this case concerned the DSPCR, the same principles are likely to apply by extension to other procurement regulations (Public Contracts Regulations 2015, SI 2015/102 etc) where exemptions or partial exclusions apply.


Legislative exemptions and procurement law

Local Government Lawyer | 4 March 2022

A High Court judge has handed down an important ruling on whether a contracting authority was entitled to rely on a legislative exemption in relation to a procurement. In Excession Technologies Limited v Police Digital Service [2022] EWHC [413] (TCC) the High Court (O’Farrell J) dismissed Excession’s claims under the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011, and in implied contract, challenging the PDS’s conduct of the national procurement process for technology services for the delivery of covert surveillance operation rooms operated by UK police forces and intelligence agencies. 

Delay to EPR will create 'vacuum of uncertainty' for councils

Local Gov | 4 March 2022

LARAC said the phased introduction of EPR, originally planned from 2023, has now been delayed for at least a year. LARAC said councils have been delaying new procurements and implementing interim arrangements while waiting for the guidance on EPR to be issued. However, it said these options are becoming 'unfeasible' and local authorities may be forced to award contracts with no provision for EPR until the next contract cycle.

Leader urges changes to laws on council contracting as it moves to ditch gas supply deal with Gazprom

Local Government Lawyer | 3 March 2022

Merton Council is to write to the Government to ask for urgent changes to the laws around who councils can choose to do business with, as the London borough seeks to terminate a gas contract with energy supplier Gazprom.

English councils seek exit from Russian energy firm Gazprom deals

BBC News | 3 March 2022

Councils across England are seeking to cut ties with the Russian energy firm Gazprom in protest at the invasion of Ukraine. Several, who use the part-state-owned firm's gas to heat buildings including offices, schools and social housing, have told the BBC they want to end their contracts as soon as possible.

Campaigners ask whether government ‘manipulated’ PPE procurement data for NAO  

Public Finance | 15 February 2022

The government is facing questions over whether leaked emails suggest civil servants were told to alter data relating to personal protective equipment bought amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Campaign group the Good Law Project, which says it aims to hold the government accountable, said its findings could show senior officials knew figures that had already been given to the National Audit Office were possibly “made up”. The figures relate to the number of PPE suppliers that were placed in a high priority ‘VIP lane’, which has since been found unlawful by a high court judge.

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Disputes & Regulatory Support

Minott v Cambridge City Council [2022] EWCA Civ 159

In March 2019, the Claimant, Mr Minott, successfully made a homelessness application to Cambridge City Council, and was provided with temporary accommodation under a weekly licence. After further inquiries, the Council decided that the Claimant did not have a local connection with Cambridge because he had not been resident in Cambridge for six months out of the previous year, or three months out of the previous five years.

The Council referred the Claimant to Sandwell. The Claimant then asked for a review of that decision, and the referral to Sandwell was upheld. In October 2019, the Claimant made a fresh application to the Council. By that point, he had been in the Council’s accommodation for over six months. His fresh application was refused on the ground that no new information was provided in that application. In the judicial review claim against the Council’s decision, the Court of Appeal ultimately ruled in favour of the Claimant, stating that the Council could only refuse an application if it were based on exactly the same facts as the previous application. In this case, the Claimant’s six months of staying in the Council’s accommodation was a “new fact”, rather than “a fanciful allegation” or “a trivial fact” that needed to be taken into account. Therefore, the Council had to accept the Claimant’s fresh application.

The legal implications of this decision is the clarification of the two-stage test local authorities should consider when receiving a repeat homelessness application: first, to establish whether this is an application at all, which it will not be if based on exactly the same facts as the previous application; and second, to establish whether the application is well-founded through inquiries required by section 184 of the Housing Act 1996. If the application passes the first stage, there is no shortcut through the second stage.

The practical implications of this decision is that there are very limited grounds for which local authorities can refuse a repeat homelessness application. It could potentially lead to local authorities being forced to accept a large number of repeat applications, and needing to spare resources for enquiries. The latter concern was addressed by Lord Justice Lewison, who said that as long as the enquiries are sufficient to establish what duty is owned to the applicant, there is no requirement on the level of detail or time spent on each enquiry.

For further help on disputes, please contact Olivia Carter.


MoJ extends 30 Nightingale courtrooms - but will close 22

Law Gazette | 3 March 2022

The Ministry of Justice has announced it is extending 30 Nightingale courtrooms for another year – but closing 22 including four at its own headquarters – as part of continued efforts to bring down the court backlog. Crown courtrooms at sites such as London’s Prospero House, the Barbican, former courts in Telford, Chichester and Cirencester, and hotels in Maidstone and Wolverhampton, will remain open until March 2023.

Croydon to face legal challenge from suspended director

The MJ | 3 March 2022

Croydon LBC is facing a legal challenge from an executive director who has been on long-term gardening leave for more than a year. Executive director of localities, Hazel Simmonds, was one of four senior staff suspended by the incoming chief executive Katherine Kerswell in February last year. It came as the council was in financial meltdown and had been forced to issue a section 114 notice.

Cumbria abandons judicial review after judge upholds Jenrick's decision  

Local Government Chronicle | 28 February 2022

Cumbria CC has decided not to pursue further legal action on local government reorganisation in the county after its application for a judicial review was refused for a second time. At a hearing of Manchester’s Administrative Court on 22 February, Mr Justice Fordham refused the council’s application on the grounds that it would not be reasonably arguable under judicial review.

Court of Appeal hands down ruling on second homelessness applications and 'new facts'

Local Government Lawyer | 21 February 2022

The Court of Appeal has allowed a claimant’s appeal over the dismissal of his claim for judicial review of a decision by a city council which refused to accept his second homelessness application on the basis that it revealed no "new facts". See Minott v Cambridge City Council [2022] EWCA Civ 159 for the judgement in full.

London borough and Barclays settle LOBO/LIBOR loan dispute

Local Government Lawyer | 21 February 2022

Newham Council has settled its litigation with Barclays Bank over historic Lender Option Borrower Option (LOBO) loans, with the local authority saying the deal would achieve substantial savings. The council took out ten LOBO loans with the bank, to the value of £238m, between 2007 and 2008. Those loans were converted to fixed rate loans in 2017.

Chief executive loses £4.9m tribunal claim

The MJ | 21 February 2022

A council chief executive has lost an employment tribunal claim for £4.9m. The tribunal found in favour of South Ribble Borough Council on all grounds except for the fact that it should have paid Heather McManus her full notice. Ms McManus resigned in May 2020 after spending the previous 12 months on ‘special leave’ and was then sacked for serious misconduct during her notice period.

High Court judge quashes age assessment of asylum seeker over “unfair process” undertaken by council

Local Government Lawyer | 21 February 2022

A South Sudanese asylum seeker who claims to be a child has won a High Court challenge over the fairness of an age assessment carried out by a London borough that concluded he was much older. The background to the case of SB (A Child), R (On the Application Of) v Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea [2022] EWHC 308 (Admin) was that the claimant arrived in the UK in May 2021. He stated to the authorities that he was a child aged 17.

London borough hit with regulatory notice after breaching ‘Home Standard’

Local Government Lawyer | 18 February 2022

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham breached the 'Home Standard' and, as a consequence, there was the potential for serious detriment to its tenants, the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has found following a self-referral by the council.

Owners of football club end 10-year dispute with council over alleged state aid in sale of stadium

Local Government Lawyer | 17 February 2022

The long-running legal dispute over alleged unlawful state aid in Coventry City Council's sale of the Ricoh Arena has ended after the European Commission declined a complaint brought by the owner of Coventry City Football Club. In May 2019 Sisu, which owns the football club, complained to the Commission that the sale of the Ricoh Arena - where Coventry City played and as it was then known - to Wasps rugby club breached state aid rules by selling at less than its true value.

Parish council fails in legal challenge over grant of permission to extract pulverised fuel ash

Local Government Lawyer | 17 February 2022

The High Court has dismissed all six grounds of challenge brought by a parish council over the extraction of pulverised fuel ash. In Whitley Parish Council, R (On the Application Of) v North Yorkshire County Council [2022] EWHC 238 (Admin) Mr Justice Lane said that even had he been convinced that any of the grounds advanced by Whitley Parish Council were made out against North Yorkshire County Council’s decision, “I am fully satisfied that they could have been addressed by minor changes to the [officer’s report].

County to sue Apple for ‘misleading predictions’

Public Finance | 17 February 2022

Norfolk County Council has been granted permission by a US court to file a class action lawsuit against tech giant Apple, over allegations of misleading revenue predictions. The council is administering authority for the Norfolk Pension Fund, which it claims lost money after Apple chief executive Tim Cook allegedly misled investors on iPhone sales in China, between November 2018 and January 2019.

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Resource Library

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