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Net Zero

Decarbonisation funding – next steps for local authorities

As part of the Government’s commitment to reaching net zero carbon by 2050, the Government announced in March this year a £1.8bn package to support decarbonisation in public buildings and homes.

The funding is available via three streams – the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, the Home Upgrade Grant and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Local authorities who have secured the funding, or are planning to apply, need to be aware of some important issues at each stage of the process.

Local authority recipients of funding will enter a grant funding agreement with the Department of Energy and Net Zero. It is vital these agreements are considered carefully to ensure the risks are fully understood e.g. regarding potential clawback of funding.

Following this, some thought should be given to issues surrounding delivery of the works.  In particular, the risks around procurement and subsidy control rules should be carefully considered. 

Local authorities should also think carefully about forms of contract – in particular to ensure an appropriate contract is in place between the local authority and its appointed suppliers to deliver the works. It is also possible that some form of contractual arrangement may be needed between the local authority and the occupier of the home that is being retrofitted. Local authorities should also be aware that in the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund consideration may need to be given to eligibility around the income of the occupier or tenant.

If you would like to know how Bevan Brittan could help with the delivering of your retrofit objectives, please get in touch with one of our Energy and commercial specialists Nadeem Arshad or Nathan Bradberry.

Publications & Guidance

Transport improvements could provide £52bn economic boost

Public Finance | 13 April 2023

Upgrading public transport to meet net zero goals in England and Wales will also create high-quality jobs and add £52bn to the economy every year, researchers at the TUC have said.

Gas and electricity prices under the Energy Price Guarantee and beyond

House of Commons Library | 4 April 2023

The Energy Price Guarantee sets maximum consumer prices. These have not fallen despite generally lower wholesale prices from autumn 2023. Why is this and when can we expect prices to fall?

Green finance strategy

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 31 March 2023

The Mobilising Green Investment: 2023 Green Finance Strategy aims to strengthen the UK’s position at the forefront of the rapidly growing global green finance market, while driving private investment to deliver our energy security, net zero and environmental objectives.

Independent Review of Net Zero: government response

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 30 March 2023

The government's response to the recommendations made by the Independent Review of Net Zero.

Shapps sets out plans to drive multi-billion pound investment in energy revolution

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 30 March 2023

Ambitious plans to scale up affordable, clean, home-grown power and build thriving green industries in Britain have been unveiled by the government - boosting the country’s energy security and independence and reducing household bills for the long term and maintaining a world-leading position in achieving net zero. To read the plan in full, please see: Powering up Britain.

Climate change has arrived, yet the country is still strikingly unprepared

Climate Change Committee | 29 March 2023

The UK’s first 40°C day, in summer 2022, was the clearest indication that climate change has arrived in this country. Last year’s record breaking temperatures brought unprecedented heat-related deaths, wildfire incidents and significant infrastructure disruption. The impacts of climate change will intensify over coming decades, leaving the UK vulnerable without better resilience planning and preparation.

In this report on England’s adaptation progress, the Climate Change Committee publishes a new appraisal of the outcomes needed to build climate resilience across the economy – and the extent of policies and delivery to meet them.

Government consistently failing to complete Post Implementation Reviews of environmental laws, finds OEP

Office for Environmental Protection | 27 March 2023

Research by the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has found that the UK Government has not consistently completed legally-required Post-Implementation Reviews (PIRs) of environmental laws.

Government response on fossil fuel phase out leaves door open for ‘Green Day’ update

UK Parliament | 23 March 2023

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has recently published the Government’s response to its report on ‘Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels and securing energy supplies’. The Government has rejected many of EAC’s recommendations aimed at speeding up the decarbonisation of the UK’s energy supply.

Constituency casework: Government support for energy bills

House of Commons Library | 20 March 2023

This paper answers FAQs on new government support schemes for energy bills, including: the Energy Price Guarantee, Energy Bills Support Scheme, Energy Bills Discount Scheme, Energy Bill Relief Scheme and Alternative Fuel Payments.

Constituency casework: help with energy bills for businesses, voluntary sector and public sector organisations

House of Commons Library | 20 March 2023

This briefing provides a guide to reliable sources of information to help answer common questions on support with energy bills for non-domestic customers, including businesses, public sector organisations and charities.

Net zero policy tracker: March 2023 update

Green Alliance | 17 March 2023

With the High Court’s deadline to the legal challenge over the Net Zero Strategy looming, the UK government must publish exactly how it plans to achieve its emission targets. Our net zero policy tracker monitors the UK government’s progress to meeting its Net Zero Strategy using data the government has published.


Share the Warmth: Using behavioural insights to reduce energy usage among homeowners

Local Government Association | 14 April 2023

To effectively support homeowners in adopting energy-saving behaviours and reducing their bills, the LGA funded a consortium of nine local authorities from Kent and Medway and the NHS in collaboration with The Behaviouralist to develop an intervention that leveraged behavioural insights to encourage local residents to reduce energy usage at home.

Increased flexibility of alternative fuel payments, so more households will be supported with their energy bills

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 12 April 2023

Government expands scheme offering households using alternative fuels £200 in energy bills support.

Call for air quality consultation extension

The MJ | 12 April 2023

A network of local leaders has called for the Government to extend its consultation on how councils in England can improve air quality beyond the local elections.

Plans unveiled to improve local authority action on air quality

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 11 April 2023

A consultation on delivering cleaner air in towns, cities and rural areas across England has been launched.  The Government is seeking views on a revised Air Quality Strategy which outlines how councils in England should use their existing powers and responsibilities more effectively to deliver improvements to air quality.

Bristol City Council enter renewable energy deal to transform the city's electricity and heating

AirQualityNews | 3 April 2023

Bristol City Leap was formally launched last week at the City’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts.

Government launches campaign to help businesses drive down energy bills

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 1 April 2023

A new campaign to help businesses, charities and public sector bodies increase their energy efficiency and drive down bills by making simple changes at low-to-no cost has been launched by the UK government.

Plan inspectors made 'inconsistent' climate decisions

Local Government Chronicle | 31 March 2023

The Planning Inspectorate has made inconsistent decisions on councils’ proposed policies on lower carbon homes such that it would be a matter of guesswork for a council to steer a policy successfully into place.

Global heat pump sales continue double-digit growth

International Energy Agency | 31 March 2023

Global sales of heat pumps grew by 11% in 2022, according to the latest IEA analysis, marking a second year of double-digit growth for the central technology in the world’s transition to secure and sustainable heating.

Sustainable City Charter for Westminster businesses

UK100 | 31 March 2023

The Sustainable City Charter is Westminster’s flagship business-led climate action partnership. It’s an innovative climate pledge for reducing emissions from non-domestic buildings open to all businesses, public sector, and third sector organisations with property in Westminster. It helps organisations work together to overcome barriers to climate action, and can be easily replicated in other councils.

Transport decarbonisation package to help boost net zero ambitions

Department for Transport | 30 March 2023

Measures announced to increase use of electric vehicles, as well as the production of sustainable aviation fuel in the UK.

Climate crisis disproportionately impacting elderly and low-income families in UK

edie | 28 March 2023

The climate crisis is disproportionately impacting low-income households, the elderly, children and minority communities, according to new research from CDP warning of a £17bn funding gap that is stopping local authorities from protecting their communities.

Energy-saving, quality, affordable homes in South Ribble

UK100 | 24 March 2023

South Ribble Borough Council is breathing new life into a vacant housing estate with high-quality, affordable rented homes that will help residents save energy. The neighbourhood of 15 townhouses and apartments, the McKenzie Arms scheme, is set to be completed in the coming weeks. It uses energy-efficient technology and materials to put the borough at the forefront of the shift to Net Zero.

£1.8bn awarded to boost energy efficiency and cut emissions of homes and public buildings across England

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 22 March 2023

Government awards £1.8bn through Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, Home Upgrade Grant and Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to upgrade social homes and public buildings.

Boost for buses as government takes more steps to support and decarbonise sector

Department for Transport | 21 March 2023

Announcing the Bus Centre of Excellence and almost £3m electric bus funding for Leicester.

Barnet Council's BarNET ZERO sustainability campaign

Local Government Association | 14 March 2023

BarNET ZERO is a sustainability project launched by Barnet council with a goal to be a net zero borough by 2042.

Worcestershire County Council's Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme

Local Government Association | 14 March 2023

In December 2020, Worcestershire County Council (WCC) successfully bid for £885,687 grant funding from the Government’s Salix Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) to fully fund several energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across WCC’s estate.

Herefordshire Council’s Phosphate Commission

Local Government Association | 13 March 2023

In response to challenges finding long-term solutions to nutrient neutrality, the Herefordshire Council have established a Cabinet Commission to progress the restoration of the Rivers Wye and Lugg.

Ashford Borough Council's experience of nutrient neutrality

Local Government Association | 9 March 2023

Ashford Council has had to hold granting planning permissions on a number of planning applications, for schemes which are caught by the issue nutrient neutrality. Around 90 per cent of site allocations in the Local Plan, and currently around 5,800 dwellings in over 170 planning applications, have been affected.

True value of Park and Ride in Chester

Local Government Association | 7 March 2023

This case study explores park and ride and its contribution to decarbonising transport in Chester.

Launching e-scooter trials in South Somerset

Local Government Association | 7 March 2023

In 2020 South Somerset District Council (SSDC) signed up to the call out by the Department for Transport (DfT) asking for councils to take part in their e-scooter trial for 12 months.

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Delivering Value

Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 03/23: New Standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ) to be used from 1 June 2023 at the latest

The Cabinet Office has published PPN 03/23 updating the SQ and accompanying statutory guidance. All contracting authorities must start using the new SQ by 1 June 2023 at the latest (For works contracts, authorities should use the Common Assessment Standard or PAS91).

When the PPN was first introduced on 9 March it set a date of 1 April 2023 for implementation.  However, the timescale has since been changed to 1 June to allow for the time needed to incorporate the revised SQ into procurement processes and for the amendment of e-procurement tools.

Contracting authorities are able to use the new SQ immediately so those who have already taken steps to incorporate it do not need to take further action.

To review full article, please visit here.


The Supported Accommodation (England) Regulations 2023

Publications & Guidance

Findings of independent review of ICSs published

Department of Health and Social Care | 4 April 2023

An independent review of integrated care systems has published its final report.

National summary report of the employer standards survey for registered social workers 2022/23

Local Government Association | 3 April 2023

The employer standards survey, sometimes known as the ‘health check’, gives a voice to registered social workers, occupational therapists, and non-registered social care professionals and allows them to feel listened to and that their employer is proactive in tackling challenges. The purpose of the survey was to better understand a number of critical questions about their experiences.

2/2023: Council Tax information letter - 29 March 2023

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 30 March 2023

This letter sets out the next steps for the council tax rebate scheme following its closure in November 2022.

England’s largest councils need to make £1bn worth of savings despite council tax rises as local authorities grapple with ‘unprecedented’ financial pressures

County Councils Network | 23 March 2023

New research shows that England’s largest councils will need to make at least £1bn in savings to balance their 2023/24 budgets, despite many of them reluctantly proposing council tax rises from next month.

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan

House of Commons Library | 23 March 2023

An overview of the Government's March 2023 SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan, and some initial reaction to the measures.

Providing supported accommodation for children and young people

Department of Education | 23 March 2023

Guide to the regulations on providing supported accommodation for children and young people. It includes the quality standards that all supported accommodation providers must meet.

COVID-19 business grant schemes

National Audit Office | 23 March 2023

This report examines how effectively the government set up and delivered the grant schemes. Early in the pandemic ministers made decisions to accept additional risks. We have recognised in our other work on the COVID-19 response that the government needed to make urgent decisions with limited information to respond to an unprecedented public health emergency. However, even in emergency situations we expect officials to:

  • consider risks at the start, and put in place basic controls
  • improve their understanding of risks and the effectiveness of controls over time, refining the programme accordingly
  • when possible carry out proportionate evaluation of the programme, including identifying lessons that can be applied in the future

This report assesses how BEIS and HMT performed against these expectations. It places particular emphasis on identifying lessons and steps the government can take to enhance its preparedness for future emergencies.

Government sets out strategy to protect NHS from cyber attacks

Department of Health and Social Care | 22 March 2023

Patients will benefit from bolstered protection to the nation’s health and adult social care services as a new cyber security strategy for England is published today.

The cyber security strategy for health and adult social care sets out a plan to promote cyber resilience across the sector by 2030, protecting services and the patients they support.

Exploring adult social care funding and delayed discharge

Local Government Association | 20 March 2023

NHS Confederation and LGA briefing on adult social care funding and delayed discharge.

Polling on resident satisfaction with councils: Round 34

Local Government Association | 20 March 2023

This report presents the results of the 34th round of polling conducted in February 2023.

Public health annual report 2023: Supporting communities in difficult times

Local Government Association | 20 March 2023

This year's eleventh annual public health report reflects on the last year and focusses on how councils have responded to the rising cost of living.

Public health grants to local authorities: 2023 to 2024

Department of Health and Social Care | 14 March 2023

The public health allocations and monetary conditions for local authorities to improve health in local populations. Read LGA’s reaction here: Significant challenges remain for public health services – LGA on public health settlement

Mental health statistics: prevalence, services and funding in England

House of Commons Library | 13 March 2023

How common are mental health conditions? How long do people wait to access NHS therapy for depression and anxiety? Do statistics show that mental health services work for everyone? How much is spent on mental health services?

Top tips for CQC assurance preparation

Local Government Association | 8 March 2023

These nine top tips reflect the focus of activity that Partners in Care and Health believe will help all councils to maximise their preparation in the coming three months of 2023.

Revenue and Customs Brief 3 (2023): changes to VAT treatment of local authority leisure services

HM Revenue & Customs | 3 March 2023

This brief explains that local authorities can now apply the non-business treatment to leisure services they provide to members of the public.


District to use nearly £2m from reserves to re-open leisure facilities

Local Government Chronicle | 11 April 2023

Sevenoaks DC has agreed to use nearly £2m of its earmarked reserves re-open three leisure facilities which were forced to close after the sites' operator ceased trading.

Adult social care charging reform: distribution of funding 2023 to 2024

Department of Health and Social Care | 6 April 2023

At the Autumn Statement 2022, the government confirmed it was taking the difficult decision to delay the planned adult social care charging reforms. The funding has been retained in local authority budgets to help them meet current pressures.

Record doctors and nurses working in the NHS helping to cut waiting lists

Department of Health and Social Care | 6 April 2023

Latest data shows there are more doctors, nurses and staff than ever before working in the NHS.

EXCLUSIVE: £4.3m bed cost shambles

The MJ | 5 April 2023

The Government has held back £600m of promised social care funding after its drive to reduce delayed discharges cost £4.3m per bed.

'Difficult decisions' in store as LEPs axed

The MJ | 5 April 2023

Replacing Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will not be easy, the Government has been warned.

Government sets out next steps to support social care

Department of Health and Social Care | 4 April 2023

People who receive care, staff and providers will benefit from a refreshed plan to bolster the adult social care workforce, speed up discharge from hospital and accelerate the use of technology in the sector over the next 2 years.

The update builds on commitments outlined in the People at the Heart of Care white paper, published in December 2021, to support career progression in the sector and make sure those who receive care get it in the right place at the right time.

Life chances of vulnerable adults improved as government extends £73m ‘Changing Futures’ programme

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 4 April 2023

A £73m scheme to improve peoples’ life chances has been extended as government increases support for vulnerable people.

Concern over councils' lack of skills to manage children’s care costs

Public Finance | 31 March 2023

The lack of skills within local authorities to manage soaring children’s care costs is a “worry” and the government should intervene, a senior official has said.

MPs lament NHS and Government complaints body’s “lack of ambition” to return to pre-pandemic service delivery levels

UK Parliament | 31 March 2023

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published its report on the performance of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman from 2021-22. Read the full report here: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Scrutiny 2021-22.

Councils lack skills in deal-making, says commissioner

The MJ | 30 March 2023

 Councils lack the skills to bring down care placement costs, the children’s commissioner for England has said.

Councils in dark on levelling up scorings

The MJ | 30 March 2023

The Levelling Up Fund has come in for fresh criticism after it emerged councils will not be told their scoring in feedback on failed bids.

EXCLUSIVE: Councils stretched despite fund boost

The MJ | 30 March 2023

Councils are in despair over their capacity to deliver the Household Support Fund (HSF) as the new financial year begins.

Increased funding for care homes providing nursing

Department of Health and Social Care | 28 March 2023

Increased funding for care homes providing nursing will support tens of thousands of care home residents with nursing needs following confirmation that government will increase the rate by 5% for 2023 to 2024, including those with learning and physical disabilities.

Small minority of councils use digital care services, poll reveals

The MJ | 28 March 2023

Only a handful of councils are making full use of digital technology to provide personalised care in people’s homes, according to an umbrella group of organisations.

Unfunded NHS pay rises could lead to cuts to public health services

Local Government Association | 23 March 2023

Proposed new NHS pay rises could end up leading to cuts to vital public health services if they are not funded, councils and directors of public health are warning.

Government bans unregulated accommodation for young people in care

Department of Education | 23 March 2023

All supported accommodation providers for looked after 16- and 17-year-olds will be required to register with Ofsted and meet standards from October 2023.

Cost of living a ‘second health emergency’ after COVID – councils and public health directors

Local Government Association | 21 March 2023

Local health chiefs are warning that the increase in costs of essential food items and energy has created a ‘second health emergency’ after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Place & Growth

Commercial EPCs changed on 1 April

From 1 April 2023 the prohibition on lettings where a commercial property has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below an “E” will apply to existing leases.

The following leases are exempt:

  1. Short leases. These are not subject to MEES provided that all of the following applies: the lease term does not exceed six months; there has been no previous continuous period of occupation by the tenant exceeding 12 months; and the lease has no right to renew.
  2. Long leases. These are exempt provided the lease is for a term of 99 years or more.
  3. Licences to occupy. The Non-domestic MEES Guidance indicates that licences to occupy are not subject to MEES, which would include occupation under an agreement for lease, so it is highly unlikely they would need to comply.
  4. Tenancies at will. This is a grey area as unlike licences there is no similar indication in the MEES Guidance for a tenancy at will. Generally the view is that they will not be caught as they grant a right to occupy and not a lease for a term of years, but this view has yet to be tested.

There are a number of exemptions which can be claimed. Where claimed, any exemption will last for five years and will be personal to the landlord at the time.

The main exemptions are:

  1. Consent exemption. This is likely to be the most common exemption for a landlord to claim where improvement works can only be carried out with consent from a third party. Typically this would be where the tenant has refused consent or planning permission is required for the proposed works but cannot be obtained or is refused. An exemption may also be claimed if consent is only forthcoming subject to an unreasonable condition e.g. payment of a considerable sum for costs.
  2. Devaluation exemption. This is regarded as the least common exemption as the landlord has to prove that within the last five years it has been unable to increase the EPC rating as the relevant improvements would devalue the property by more than 5%. Evidence for this has to be provided by an independent surveyor.
  3. Impossible to improve rating. This applies where either the landlord can show that all relevant energy improvement works have been carried out but the EPC rating is still below an E or where there are no relevant improvement works which can be carried out to the property.
  4. Seven year payback test. This would apply where the cost of making the energy efficiency improvement would not show a saving in energy bills over a seven year period. The MEES Guidance includes details of how this is calculated preferably by an EPC assessor.
  5. Temporary exemption for six months. This gives a short extension of time to enable landlords in certain circumstances to comply with various letting restrictions. For example it can be used where a landlord buys a non-compliant tenanted property and it then has six months to either carry out the works to bring the property up to standard or apply for a longer term exemption. It is likely to be used where a landlord is contractually bound to grant a lease of a sub-standard property e.g. to a guarantor or where a new lease has been granted under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

The Government has already announced its proposals to increase the requirement for a minimum EPC rating of “C” in 2027 increasing to a rating of “B” in 2030, although it is not known whether this deadline will be extended when legislation is passed. With energy efficiency improvements and sustainable building credentials high on the agenda of many organisations as part of their commitment to ESG, the current minimum rating of “E” is only a starting point.

Penalties for non-compliance with MEES are substantial and range from £5,000 to £150,000 so any landlord ignoring these changes would be foolish indeed. Lease drafting should take into account the impact of MEES both now and in the future.

For further help and guidance, please contact David Hobbs.


UK Infrastructure Bank Act 2023

The Act places the Infrastructure Bank on a statutory footing, confirming its long-term future and recognising its important role in helping to address climate change and boost regional and local growth.

Non-Domestic Rating Bill

A Bill to make provision about non-domestic rating. To read the accompanying press release, please see here: New bill to modernise Business Rates system.

Publications & Guidance

Ombudsman’s latest cases show landlords ‘still have learning to do’ in dealing with cladding and fire safety complaints

Housing Ombudsman | 11 April 2023

The Ombudsman is highlighting cladding and fire safety casework as part of its learning drive, two years on from its Spotlight report on the issue.

RSH launches second round of consumer inspection pilots

Regulator of Social Housing | 4 April 2023

The pilots will enable the regulator to test and refine its approach to consumer inspections, before rolling them out to social landlords from April 2024.

Referral of Refugee Housing Programme Scheme by the Greater London Authority

Subsidy Advice Unit | 3 April 2023  

The Subsidy Advice Unit (SAU) has accepted a request for a report from the Greater London Authority concerning the proposed Refugee Housing Programme (RHP) scheme.

The additionality of housing supply interventions

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 31 March 2023

This report presents the results of research undertaken to support analysis for assessments of the additionality of the impacts of public sector supported housing developments.

Street works permit schemes

Department for Transport | 31 March 2023

The statutory guidance highway authorities must follow if they want to develop, vary or operate a permit scheme for street works.

Co-ordinating street works

Department for Transport | 31 March 2023

The fifth edition of the code of practice for local authorities who have a duty to co-ordinate works in the highway, and for undertakers on how to co-operate in the process.

Inspecting street works

Department for Transport | 31 March 2023

The fifth edition of the code of practice for highway authorities on how to carry out inspections of street works.

Local growth funds

House of Commons Library | 30 March 2023

This briefing is a short summary of current government administered funds designed to support local economic growth.

Rough sleeping (England)

House of Commons Library | 28 March 2023

This paper provides information on the number of rough sleepers in England and policies aimed at meeting the Government’s target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.

Passengers set to benefit from new digital transport strategy

Department for Transport | 28 March 2023

Passengers are set to benefit from improved access to digital apps and sites to help plan, pay and access the transport system thanks to the government’s new Transport Data Strategy.

The Transport Data Strategy sets out plans for the greater use of data in transport and aims to improve how people find, use and get value from transport data to support greater innovation in the sector and deliver better services.

Social Housing Reform in England: What Next?

House of Commons Library | 28 March 2023

This briefing outlines the measures set out in the Government’s social housing white paper, stakeholder reaction and the next steps for social housing reform.

The Supported Housing (Regulated Oversight) Bill 2022-23: progress of the Bill

House of Commons Library | 19 March 2023

The report stage of Bob Blackman's Private Members Bill is scheduled for 3 March 2023. The Bill has Government support and will strengthen regulation of supported exempt accommodation.

Letter to registered providers: Data requirements for 2023-24

Regulator of Social Housing | 16 March 2023

On 13 March 2023 we wrote to all chief executives to confirm data requirements for the 2023/24 period. These letters detailed the requirements for private providers with 1,000 or more units (large providers), those with fewer than 1,000 units (small providers) and local authority registered providers.

English city region capital regeneration funding

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 15 March 2023

Funding for high-value capital regeneration projects in city regions across England for 2022-23.

Stuck in neutral: A call for partnership working on river quality and water quantity

Local Government Association | 13 March 2023

Around 20,000 new homes a year have been put on hold as a result legal protections to clean and protect our precious water ways. This report explores the challenges that councils and other stakeholders are facing, and sets out recommendations for action.


New holiday let rules to protect local people and support tourism

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 12 April 2023

A consultation published today by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will propose introducing planning permission for an existing home to start to be used as a short term let – helping support local people in areas where high numbers of holiday lets are preventing them from finding affordable housing. The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 7 June 2023.

Crackdown on fly-tipping continues with new grants for councils

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 8 April 2023

Grants totalling £775,000 will help councils roll out a range of projects to crack down on fly-tipping, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced today (Saturday 8 April).

Nearly £50 million boost for safer roads across England

Department for Transport | 6 April 2023

Road safety improvements will be made to 27 of the most high-risk roads in England, which will help prevent fatal and serious injuries.

Government unveils taskforce chair to boost older people's housing  

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 4 April 2023

A new taskforce to help improve housing options for older people will be headed by Professor Julienne Meyer.

Councils set for right to buy boost

Public Finance | 3 April 2023

English councils are set to receive 100% of income from homes sold through the right to buy scheme in a bid to replenish lost social housing stock.

Levelling Up Committee launches inquiry on social housing finances & sustainability

UK Parliament | 28 March 2023

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee has today launched an inquiry into the finances and sustainability of the social housing sector in England, examining the financial pressures facing social landlords and the resources needed to meet a variety of challenges, including the need to build thousands of new homes for social rent and the task of improving social housing stock.

New support for Afghans in UK hotels to find settled housing

Home Office | 28 March 2023

Greater support will be given to those resettled and relocated from Afghanistan in bridging accommodation to find settled housing. Read LGA’s statement here: Housing Afghan families: LGA statement.

Package to level up opportunities for the most disadvantaged pupils

Department for Education | 28 March 2023

Children in disadvantaged areas will benefit from stronger schools and increased local investment, as the Government steps up delivery of the commitments made in last year’s Schools White Paper.

Hundreds of youth facilities in deprived areas to be transformed with new investment

Department for Culture, Media and Sport | 27 March 2023

First major tranche from the Government’s Youth Investment Fund allocated to beneficiaries for rebuilding and renovating youth centres in some of the country’s most disadvantaged areas.

Over 70 cultural venues, museums and libraries supported with £60 million boost

Department for Culture, Media and Sport | 27 March 2023

Beneficiaries of the Cultural Investment Fund, announced today by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, include museums, cultural venues and public libraries across England.

Anti-social behaviour action plan to help communities take back control of high streets

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 27 March 2023

New measures to revitalise high streets including tougher enforcement powers for councils and unlimited fines for irresponsible landlords.

Schools and colleges to receive £2.5 billion to upgrade buildings and boost school places

Department for Education | 26 March 2023

Major government investment to improve school and college buildings and support more school places from 2026.

Government bans unregulated accommodation for young people in care

Department of Education | 23 March 2023

Children in or leaving care aged 16 and 17 will be better protected through new regulations that ban unregulated accommodation.

Public parks - Levelling Up Committee publishes Government response

UK Parliament | 14 March 2023

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee has today published correspondence from the Government responding to a series of questions raised by the Committee on public parks, inequality of access to green space, and the funding of public parks and green spaces.

Cities can level up the country if given funding and freedom, say urban leaders

Local Government Association | 22 March 2023

Cities can level up the country, grow an economy fit for the future and tackle the climate crisis if they have the right resources and extra powers, urban leaders say today.

Digital switch readiness survey 2022

Local Government Association | 21 March 2023

In August 2022 the LGA and PCH’s Digital Switchover Working Group conducted a readiness survey to gauge councils’ position on awareness, planning, and implementation of the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN).

Skills boost for planning authorities to create better neighbourhoods

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 21 March 2023

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has given social enterprise Public Practice £1 million to help councils recruit and develop skilled planners.

New levy to make sure developers pay fair share for affordable housing and local infrastructure

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 17 March 2023

A new levy will see developers pay a fairer share for affordable housing and local infrastructure such as roads, schools and GP surgeries.

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Governance & Reorganisation

Time for a governance review?

If you’re thinking of reviewing your governance, the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS) has recently published guidance which aims to provide technical advice on the operation and review of critical elements of the governance framework for local authorities in England.

Between them, the three publications look at:

The call-in paper, informed by the approach taken by a number of councils as well as webinars and CfGS surveys, aims to provide advice on the operation of the function of local authority scrutiny committees and has been produced by the CfGS with the support of Bevan Brittan LLP, Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO).  It provides not only the legislative background but also practical examples together with best practice.

A fourth publication, on the operation of full council meetings, will be published later in 2023, the CfGS said.

If you have any questions regarding governance issues, please contact David Kitson, Philip McCourt, or Victoria Barman.

Publications & Guidance

Committee announces new proposals to tighten rules and improve transparency around All-Party Parliamentary Groups

UK Parliament | 5 April 2023

The Committee on Standards has published a new report putting forward a package of proposals to tighten the rules and improve both the governance and transparency of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) amid concerns of improper influence.

Tackling fraud and corruption against government

National Audit Office | 30 March 2023

This report sets out the recent trends from our audits and reports, reviews how well-placed government is to understand and tackle fraud and corruption across government and sets out insights from our work and engagement with experts on what more government can do to better prevent fraud and corruption.

The report follows our previous work which found government did not have a good understanding of fraud before the pandemic. In our 2016 Fraud landscape review, we found a large disparity between the level of fraud and error that the UK government reports and the level reported in other countries and the private sector. We also found there were few incentives for departments to record and report the true scale of potential fraud; a lack of data or metrics to evaluate performance in detecting and preventing fraud; and mixed capability across departments to tackle fraud.

Ombudsperson system needs greater human rights focus but dedicated Human Rights Ombudsperson not needed – report finds

UK Parliament | 28 March 2023

Creating a dedicated human rights ombudsperson could risk creating overlap with the functions of existing bodies, a Joint Committee on Human Rights report has found. Human rights are already considered as part of the work of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), and creating a new additional role risks creating confusion. The findings come in a report published by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Local Leadership Framework for Councillors

Local Government Association | 28 March 2023

The purpose of this framework is to support councillors in their local leadership role as they work with local communities to make a difference. It includes suggestions, prompts and further resources to help you think about the skills you use as a councillor.

The Local Government Digitalisation Almanac

Local Government Association | 27 March 2023

We have launched our new Local Government Digitalisation Almanac for councillors and officers, containing simple steps, practical examples and resources to support councils on their digitalisation journeys.

Electoral Registration – Levelling Up Committee publishes written evidence

UK Parliament | 21 March 2023

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee has published written evidence submissions for its inquiry on electoral registration.

English Devolution Accountability Framework

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 16 March 2023

This document sets out how areas with devolution deals will be scrutinised and held to account through local scrutiny, by the public and by government.

Voter ID – what you and your residents need to know

Local Government Association | 9 March 2023

The way we vote is changing. Find out all you need to know ahead of the local May elections.

Pre-election period of sensitivity

House of Commons Library | 10 March 2023

Government and local authority resources cannot be used for party political campaigning at any time. In the run up to an election, the pre-election period of sensitivity, particular care is taken. Government departments and councils will normally observe discretion about making new announcements or decisions that could influence voters.


Current local audit deadline ‘unachievable’

Public Finance | 14 April 2023

Low capacity in council finance teams and the failure to deal with historic accounting issues mean the current September audit deadline is unlikely to be met, local auditors Grant Thornton have warned.

A watchdog’s role is to catch councils before they fail

The MJ | 12 April 2023

Oflog is not the Audit Commission, says Heather Jameson. 'The question is not whether we are trying to recreate a defunct organisation, but what are the benefits of a watchdog for the future?'

Two-year IFRS 9 statutory override extension a ‘pragmatic’ move

Public Finance | 11 April 2023

A further delay to adopting local authority reporting regulations relating to investments is welcome, but the rules need to come into force at some point to avoid undermining transparency, CIPFA has said.

Oflog 'could help strengthen local government accountability'

The MJ | 6 April 2023

The executive Mayor of beleaguered Croydon has suggested the Government’s new local government watchdog could play a role in strengthening accountability in the sector.

Minister raps council over pre-election restrictions

The MJ | 5 April 2023

Experts have said pre-election period restrictions are causing misunderstandings among officers after minister rapped a council amid claims it had taken things too far.

LGA: Don't leave it too late to check new Voter ID requirements

Local Government Association | 5 April 2023

Residents should not leave it too late to make sure they have the required ID to vote in the upcoming local elections, the Local Government Association (LGA) has urged.

Cyber attack hits councils

The MJ | 4 April 2023

Councils have reported disruption to their call centres after a cyber attack on outsourcing giant Capita.

East Midlands to proceed with devolution deal

Local Government Chronicle | 31 March 2023

County and city councils in the East Midlands have agreed to proceed with devolution plans for the region worth at least £1.14bn. The agreement could provide the region with an income stream of £38m per year over a 30-year period.

County Councils Network welcomes four new member authorities as new unitaries come into existence tomorrow

County Councils Network | 31 March 2023

Tomorrow four new local authorities will come into existence in Somerset, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.

All four new unitary councils will replace the existing county and district councils in those three counties. A new Somerset Council will be responsible for services across Somerset, whilst a new North Yorkshire Council will replace the current upper and lower tier councils in North Yorkshire.

Harris under pressure to back slashing of audit requirements

The MJ | 28 March 2023

The Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) first director of local audit is facing increasing pressure to back the slashing of requirements amid a persisting council accounts backlog.

Gove plays down voter ID concerns

The MJ | 24 March 2023

Local government secretary Michael Gove has brushed off fears of gaps in data collection on voter ID requirements at May’s elections.

Devon gets permission to submit level two devo bid

Local Government Chronicle | 24 March 2023

Councils in Devon have been told they can submit a bid for a level two devolution deal, which would not involve an elected mayor.

More than 370 local audit opinions still outstanding, MPs told

The MJ | 21 March 2023

More than 370 local audit opinions for 2021-22 are still outstanding despite recent measures designed to tackle the backlog, senior Whitehall civil servants have revealed.

Trailblazing devolution deal signed giving Greater Manchester more control over transport, skills and housing

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 21 March 2023

The Levelling Up Secretary and Mayor Andy Burnham have signed a landmark deeper devolution deal for Greater Manchester putting more cash and power in the hands of local leaders.

Trailblazing devolution deal signed giving West Midlands more control over transport, skills and housing

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 20 March 2023

The Levelling Up Secretary and Mayor Andy Street have signed a landmark deeper devolution deal for the West Midlands putting more cash and power in the hands of local leaders.

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Contract Management

Barton v Morris: the importance of preparing for every eventuality in Commercial Contracts

Earlier this year, the UK Supreme Court handed down the judgment of Barton and others (Respondents) v Morris and another in place of Gwyn Jones (deceased) [2023] UKSC 3.

This seminal judgment confirms the reluctance of the court to imply terms into a contract in the interests of equity. The case also provides a review of the concept of unjust enrichment and its relationship with commercial contracts.

A summary of the case can be found here.

The decision in the Court of Appeal and the two dissenting judgments in the Supreme Court illustrated the challenges around interpretation on issues where a contract remains silent.  The current prevailing view is that the Court will not step in to “fill the gap”.  Parties entering into contracts should consider different outcomes and where appropriate, seek to include those in the drafting.  The Court will only imply terms into a contract if certain tests are satisfied.  In practical terms, this means that commercial contracts should aim to strike a balance between definitive, extensive express terms and drafting which allows scope for flexibility.  Parties should not rely on implied terms to save them.

For more information on this topic, please contact Judith Hopper, Partner or Louise Ducasse, Trainee Solicitor.

Publications & Guidance

PPN 04/23: Procuring Steel in Government Contracts

Cabinet Office | 11 April 2023

The government is committed to delivering on its priorities of supporting UK businesses and industry, decarbonisation and levelling up. The UK steel sector plays an important role in our economy, providing jobs, high quality steel products and helping to deliver our country’s infrastructure. The public sector is an important buyer of steel, procuring it to build our railways, roads, buildings, defence equipment, schools and hospitals.

This PPN replaces PPN 11/16. The updated guidance reflects changes to the project appraisal and commercial policy landscape since 2016 and clarifies the scope of reporting requirements on steel origin data.

Public Procurement Review Service results - January 2018 to February 2023

Cabinet Office | 30 March 2023

The Crown Commercial Service has published the Public Procurement Review Service results from January 2018 to February 2023, showing issues raised and cases resolved under the Public Procurement Review Service.

Procurement Policy Note 01/17: Update to Transparency Principles - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Cabinet Office | 29 March 2023

The Cabinet Office has updated the guidance attached to Procurement Policy Note 01/17: Update to transparency principles V1.1 (PPN 01/17), which states the government’s expectations regarding transparency and accountability of public service delivery data and information.

National Procurement Strategy for Local Government in England 2022 – toolkit

Local Government Association | 8 March 2023 27

This toolkit has been developed to support councils to set objectives in relation to their maturity levels in each of the key areas of the National Procurement Strategy for Local Government in England 2022, and to assess their progress against those objectives.

How to bid for government contracts as an SME effectively

Cabinet Office | 24 March 2023

The Cabinet Office has updated its guidance on how to bid for government contracts as an SME effectively. The update has changed the contract value you can search for on Contracts Finder to over £12,000 (including VAT).


Competition and Markets Authority fines construction companies £60m over bids for public and private sector contracts

Local Government Lawyer | 6 April 2023 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has handed out fines totalling nearly £60m after concluding that ten construction firms had colluded on prices through illegal cartel agreements when submitting bids in competitive tenders for public and private sector contracts.

Two of the firms named in the investigation into bid-rigging in demolition and asbestos removal contracts have vowed to appeal the penalty decision.

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Disputes & Regulatory Support

Japanese Knotweed Claim: Davies v Bridgend County Borough Council

The Court of Appeal recently found that damages for the residual diminution of land infected by Japanese Knotweed were recoverable, overturning an earlier ruling.

The Japanese Knotweed had been present on the Council’s land for over 50 years. The Claimant bought the neighbouring property in 2004, by which time the Japanese Knotweed had already spread to the Claimant’s property. The Claimant became concerned about the Japanese Knotweed in 2017 and raised it with the Council in 2019.

At first instance, the judge found that there was a breach of duty to start an effective treatment programme from 2013 when the Council should have had knowledge of the Japanese Knotweed until 2018 when such a programme was started. The judge concluded, however, that the damage in value to the property was economic loss only and therefore irrecoverable.

The Court of Appeal, after considering recently updated RICS Guidance, found that the encroachment of Japanese Knotweed was an ongoing nuisance affecting the Claimant’s use and enjoyment of the land, amounting to damage to the property rather than pure economic loss, and therefore the residual damage was recoverable.

Practical Points for Local Authorities

Points to note from the Judgment include:

  • Proximity of Japanese Knotweed to land is not sufficient to give rise to a claim. The Claimant must prove that the Japanese Knotweed has spread to their land to be an actionable nuisance.
  • A trivial or de minimis encroachment is not actionable. Whilst the court did not define what would amount to trivial or de minimis spread, minor encroachment would unlikely result in damages.
  • Adherence to the suggested methodology under the updated RICS guidelines when considering the impact of Japanese Knotweed is likely to be increasingly important in convincing the court of the appropriate level of diminution of value. Local Authorities should consider diminution as a head of loss and focus on the quantification by a suitable expert.

It remains the case that there is no actionable nuisance caused by the presence of Japanese knotweed simply because the presence of it diminishes the value of neighbouring property.

The case is warning to landowners that they could be liable for economic losses previously thought to be irrecoverable where a neighbouring landowner can demonstrate encroachment, and highlights the importance of taking action to act on and remove Japanese knotweed so as to avoid falling foul of their duty of care.

If you wish to discuss a similar matter please contact Matthew Anderson.

Publications & Guidance

The HMCTS Reform Programme

HM Courts & Tribunals Service | 24 March 2023

The guidance’s 'What we're doing next' section has been updated, it includes details on the revised schedule.


Council wins appeal over relief from sanctions when submitting witness statements a year after date for exchange

Local Government Lawyer | 14 April 2023

In Tiernan-Spratt & Anor v City Of Wolverhampton Council [2023] EWHC 811 (KB), the High Court has allowed an appeal by the City of Wolverhampton Council over a district judge's refusal to give relief from sanctions in respect of the service of three additional witness statements about a year after the time provided for the exchange of witness statements.

Parent-carer group raise funds for judicial review against Integrated Care Board over autism assessment criteria changes

Local Government Lawyer | 14 April 2023

A parent-carer-led campaign group has raised more than £5,000 with a view to bringing a judicial review challenge against the Integrated Care Board (ICB) of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire over changes to the autism assessment criteria.

High Court judge rejects claim council operated unlawful policy of coercing children into making agreements against section 20 accommodation

Local Government Lawyer | 14 April 2023

In TT v Essex County Council [2023] EWHC 826 (Admin), the High Court has rejected a judicial review claim that an Essex County Council policy for accommodating children aged 16 or 17 was unlawful.

Government to procure litigation support worth £5m for pursuit of companies it claims are avoiding responsibility to pay to fix unsafe buildings

Local Government Lawyer | 13 April 2023

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has given notice of its plans to procure specialist litigation support for its Recovery Strategy Unit (RSU), which has been set up to “pursue those who seek to obfuscate their responsibility to pay to fix unsafe buildings and make them safe”.

Khan’s emissions plans to face High Court challenge

Public Finance | 13 April 2023

A legal challenge by a group of councils against the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) championed by Sadiq Khan has been allowed by the High Court.Four local authorities – Bromley, Bexley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey County Council – had challenged the extension on five legal grounds, of which two were allowed.

Cumbria coal mine: High Court refuses to hear legal challenge, green groups vow further action

edie | 12 April 2023

The UK’s High Court has refused to hear a case against the Government’s decision to permit a new deep coal mine in Cumbria, tabled by environmental groups including Friends of the Earth.

High Court to hear application by council for full injunction over Home Office plan to house asylum seekers at disused airfield

Local Government Lawyer | 11 April 2023

The High Court has agreed to hear next week Braintree District Council’s application for a full injunction over Home Office plans to accommodate asylum seekers at an airbase.

Court of Appeal agrees to hear appeal of Dartmoor wild camping ruling

Local Government Lawyer | 11 April 2023

Dartmoor National Park Authority has been granted leave to appeal a controversial High Court ruling that found that visitors do not have the right to camp overnight in the park without landowner consent. The judgment, which also concluded that there was no local custom of camping which has the force of law, gained national attention and triggered a series of protests from local camping enthusiasts.

Neighbourhood forum brings novel judicial review challenge over neighbourhood plan refusal

Local Government Lawyer | 6 April 2023

A High Court judge will hear a legal challenge of the London Borough of Tower Hamlet's refusal of the Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan, in what is to be the first-ever judicial review in respect of a decision taken under s.38A(5) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to refuse to make a neighbourhood plan.

Landowner found in contempt of court after breaching injunction regarding land on Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Local Government Lawyer | 5 April 2023

In Maidstone Borough Council v Beck & Ors [2023] EWHC 787 (Admin), a landowner in a long-running dispute with Maidstone Borough Council has been found to be in contempt of court after failing to comply with an order to clear material from a site situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Council launches judicial review over plans to house asylum seekers at disused RAF base

Local Government Lawyer | 3 April 2023

West Lindsey District Council has confirmed it has sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Home Office over its decision to accommodate asylum seekers at RAF Scampton.

Afghan refugees lose High Court challenge over Home Office offer of bridging accommodation in Manchester

Local Government Lawyer | 27 March 2023

Afghan refugees who were resettled in London have lost a High Court bid to try to prevent them being sent to Manchester by the Home Office. Mr Justice Henshaw heard the case of HZ & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 660 (Admin) , which was brought by refugees HZ, MK and FM against Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Just 3 energy suppliers making up over 70% of all forced installation of prepayment meters

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 27 March 2023

Over 94,000 prepayment meters were forcibly installed in homes under warrant last year without customer consent - on average over 7,500 meters a month.

London borough backs legal action to recover six-figure settlement paid to former chief executive

Local Government Lawyer | 24 March 2023

The London Borough of Croydon is to pursue legal action in a bid to claw back a £437,000 settlement handed to its former Chief Executive, Jo Negrini, as part of "unprecedented action to hold former senior leaders to account for misconduct, wrongdoing and failures in governance that contributed to the authority's financial crisis".

Helping our most vulnerable users and staff with a new safeguarding policy

HM Courts & Tribunals Service | 24 March 2023

Find out how we developed our safeguarding policy to protect people who might be at risk of abuse and neglect.

‘Dieselgate revisited’: Environmental lawyers take UK Government to task over alleged diesel emissions cheating

edie | 22 March 2023

Environmental law firm ClientEarth has sent legal complaints to the Governments of the UK, France and Germany, alleging widespread failure to crack down on emissions defeat devices in diesel vehicles.

Child Protection Lawyers say 26-week target will be difficult to achieve

Local Government Lawyer | 17 March 2023

Over half (60%) of Local Authority Lawyers working in Child Protection have said that that the Family President’s 26-week target for cases to conclude will either be “quite” or “very” difficult to achieve, according to a new survey conducted by Local Government Lawyer.

Council hit with legal challenge over decision to keep open underpass to motor traffic

Local Government Lawyer | 16 March 2023

Judicial review proceedings have been issued against Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP Council) over its decision to keep a single-lane underpass open to motor traffic.

High Court to hear judicial review challenge this month over sale by council of land next to football stadium

Local Government Lawyer | 15 March 2023

The High Court will later this month (28-29 March) hear a judicial review challenge over whether a council's sale of land surrounding a football club with a half-built stand was lawful.

High Court agrees to hear statutory review raising key issues on nutrient neutrality and planning

Local Government Lawyer | 10 March 2023

The High Court has agreed to hear a developer’s statutory review challenge to the dismissal of its appeal against the refusal of Somerset West and Taunton Council to discharge conditions on the reserved matters approval for phase 3 of a development, it has been reported.

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Resources Library

All Bevan Brittan articles and news

TCC considers replacement of two experts – and the risks of expert shoppin
Supreme Court is to hear Worcestershire Case on local authority responsibility for Section 117 aftercare on 27 April 202
Pensions Points - A quarterly guide to key pensions issues
New limitation periods under the Building Safety Act 2022 – how will the courts deal with amendments to pleadings in cases with limitation issues?
Health and Social Care Update - Policy and law relevant to those involved in health and social care work.
Exclusion and debarment under the Procurement Bill - Part 2


Have you registered for…

3 May
11am - midday
Building Safety Act - are you ready? | Bevan Brittan LLP

18 May
12.30 -1.30pm
Reluctant Discharges from and Ending Placements in Health and Social Care settings

All forthcoming events

On Demand

Case Law Update - Mental Capacity Act 2005
Understanding autism and assessing capacity

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