LA Spotlight

Spotlight on… the Covid Inquiry

This month there have been further developments on the Covid Inquiry. Module 1 is progressing (slowly), with a second preliminary hearing held on 14 February 2023. Module 1 is about the UK’s resilience and preparedness for the Covid-19 pandemic. The substantive hearing on Module 1 has been pushed back from May to 13 June 2023 – 21 July 2023 as a result of the disclosure process taking longer than envisaged. This has a knock on effect for the rest of the timetable, with the public hearings in Module 2 also delayed (the date is not yet set).

The Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association are core participants and are providing evidence and relevant supporting documentation in relation to local government issues being considered by the Inquiry. We are not aware of any individual local authorities with core participant status in current modules, however CP applications are not yet open for all modules.

It is important for local authorities to stay up to date with developments in the Covid Inquiry. There are many Rule 9 requests still to come, both in Module 1 on an iterative basis and on later modules for the first time. Other modules currently underway include Module 2 on core UK decision-making and Module 3 on the impact of the pandemic on healthcare systems. A Rule 9 request is a written request for evidence and may be the first contact your organisation receives from the Inquiry. You do not need to be a core participant to receive a Rule 9 request.

Counsel to the Inquiry reported at the hearing on 14 February that:

  • 160 Rule 9 requests have been sent out so far on Module 1
  • The Inquiry team has also had multiple meetings with many of the Government Rule 9 recipients on Module 1, and
  • Only a handful of first time Rule 9s remain to be issued on Module 1.

If you think you may have undertaken activities of interest to the Inquiry in the pandemic (see the scope of each module), or if you are not sure, now is a good time to ensure your documents and data are stored logically and clearly, as this will make it much easier to respond to future Rule 9 requests with short timeframes. Please let us know if you would like to discuss your plan for gathering and sharing documents, in order to be ready if and when you do receive a rule 9 request.

Bevan Brittan is ready to assist in the event that advice or support is required. If it would be helpful to have an informal discussion at this stage, please feel free to contact Melanie Carter, or Sarah Court-Brown.

Melanie Carter, Partner

Sarah Court-Brown, Senior Associate


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Net Zero

Publications & Guidance

Natural England unveils new Green Infrastructure Framework

Natural England | 2 February 2023

On 02 February 2023, Nature England unveiled a major new Green Infrastructure Framework to help towns and cities turn greener and realise the benefits of accessing nature. Aimed at planners and developers, the Green Infrastructure Framework will help increase the amount of green cover to 40% in urban residential areas.

A lack of leadership is preventing essential investment to prepare the UK for climate change

Climate Change Committee | 1 February 2023

As last year’s heatwave demonstrated, the UK already faces significant challenges from the changing climate; these will intensify as warming continues. Government has been too slow to react. In common with Net Zero, a major programme of investment is required to meet the UK’s adaptation needs. But unlike Net Zero, the Government has not defined its priorities. That uncertainty is preventing progress on appraising the country’s investment needs and closing the adaptation gap.

In this report, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) offers new analysis of the UK’s adaptation investment priorities – and a series of recommendations to ensure that these are funded or privately financed.

Fly-tipping statistics for England

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 31 January 2023

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has published the official fly-tipping statistics for England. This publication summarises the number and type of incidents of illegally deposited waste, the cost of dealing with them and the actions taken against fly tipping in England for 2021 to 2022.

Ambitious roadmap for a cleaner, greener country

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 31 January 2023

Plans to restore nature, improve environmental quality, and increase the prosperity of our country were set out by the government on Tuesday 31st January. This came in the form of the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023.

The Significant Improvement Test

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 31 January 2023

Under the Environment Act 2021, the UK government has committed to review its suite of statutory environmental targets at least every 5 years. The purpose of this review is to assess whether meeting statutory targets would significantly improve the natural environment in England.

Environmental principles policy statement

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 31 January 2023

Policy statement setting out how policymakers apply environmental principles to support environmental protection and enhancement.

Toolkit: System Enablers for a Circular Economy

UK Green Building Council | 31 January 2023

System Enablers for a Circular Economy highlights systemic barriers and the policy and market-based solutions to enable the built environment industry to shift from a linear to a circular system. It identifies eight enablers that will encourage the shift from our current linear economic system; building a foundation upon which a circular economy across the built environment can become the default way of operating during the transition to net zero.

Heat network zoning social research

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 27 January 2023

This report looks into the findings of social research undertaken to inform the development and implementation of future heat networks. Heat network zoning is recognised as an important policy tool to accelerate heat network development to support heat decarbonisation of buildings.

The research assessed the views, attitudes and perspectives of people who may be affected by heat network zoning policy in 6 cities across England, including local authorities, building owners and residents. It carried out online deliberative workshops and a postal survey from April to December 2021.

Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme: evaluation

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 26 January 2023

The Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme (GHGVS) is 1 of 4 ‘Green Economic Stimulus’ programmes launched in 2020 to help homeowners install energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heat measures in their homes, and support the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy commissioned Ipsos, in partnership with University College London (UCL), Building Research Establishment (BRE), and the Energy Saving Trust (EST), to conduct a process, outcome, and economic evaluation of the scheme that will complete by March 2023. These 2 reports cover the interim findings from the evaluation.

Progress in improving the natural environment in England, 2021/2022

Office for Environmental Protection | 19 January 2023

The Government’s progress on delivery of its 25 year plan to improve the environment has ‘fallen far short’ and opportunities to change course must be taken.

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) presents here its independent assessment of Government’s progress in improving the natural environment in accordance with its Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) for England in 2021/2022.

New plan for smart electric vehicle (EV) charging could save consumers up to £1000 a year

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 17 January 2023

Electric vehicle consumers are set to benefit from lower energy bills and cheaper motoring thanks to a landmark plan to unlock the potential of smart electric vehicle charging.

The Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan, published by the government and Ofgem, sets out steps being taken to seize on the significant potential of smart charging and make it the preferred method of long duration charging by 2025.

Net Zero Review: UK could do more to reap economic benefits of green growth

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 13 January 2023

Former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore publishes his Net Zero Review, outlining the opportunities offered by net zero. For LGA’s response, please see: ‘Councils are intrinsic to a net zero future’ – LGA statement on net zero review

Energy Security Bill: policy statements and draft regulations

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 13 January 2023

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a policy statement on Offshore Wind Environmental Improvement Package Measures and a policy statement on Oil and Gas Environmental Protection.


DePoLARiZE (Delivering Port of Liverpool-Associated Road freight Zero Emissions)

Local Government Association | 2 February 2023

The Port of Liverpool is England’s third largest maritime port, by cargo volumes passing through it. DePoLARiZE is a project aimed to identify potential practical measures for decarbonising freight traffic and to convene relevant stakeholders in transforming freight mobilities to and from the Port of Liverpool.

We Are Newham, We Are Food Growing

Local Government Association | 2 February 2023

‘We Are Food Growing’ is an initiative to support schools to develop their own food gardens in playgrounds. It was implemented as part of the Net Zero Innovation Programme to create a culture of food growing and education at schools.

‘Energetic Lifestyles’: Engaging young people in the development and implementation of carbon reduction initiatives

Local Government Association | 2 February 2023

The Energetic Lifestyles project explored young people’s perspectives, in establishing an improved understanding of the perceptions and barriers to energy efficient behaviours among young people and ethnically diverse communities. The key challenge to address as part of this project was in actively engaging young people in discussions around energy use and efficiency.

Bolsover Means Business

Local Government Association | 2 February 2023

This was a  hyper-local project aimed at trying to help hard to reach businesses gain the skills they need to transition to net zero.

Inspiring conferences to be sustainable

Local Government Association | 25 January 2023

The Brighton Centre team is collaborating with conference organisers, businesses and residents to create a sustainable conference culture that leaves a positive impact on the local environment and communities.

£30mgovernment funding for innovative projects to decarbonise UK highways

Department for Transport | 25 January 2023

This press release from the Department for Transport sets out funding for 7 local highways authorities to develop and use new technologies to reduce emissions, improve regional connectivity and move to net-zero local roads.Future roads could be built using asphalt made from grass cuttings and ‘carbon capturing’ cement, supported by £30m government funding awarded to 7 innovative, net zero projects.

Seven projects spread across the UK, from Lanarkshire to Devon, have been awarded funding today through the Live Labs 2: Decarbonising Local Roads competition. The programme supports projects led by local highways authorities focused on tackling the long-term decarbonisation of highways infrastructure, such as streetlights, and transforming local authorities’ approach to decarbonising roads.

New government figures shine a light on which suppliers are supporting households this winter

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 23 January 2023

Households across Great Britain are now able to see which suppliers are doing the most - and the least - to ensure prepayment meter customers are receiving £400 of support with their winter energy bills. On 23 January 2023, the government today published figures showing how many vouchers have been used across suppliers.

Triple on-the-spot littering fines, think-tank urges

The MJ | 23 January 2023

A think-tank has called for a ‘revitalised’ litter strategy, including tripling the level of fines and ranking councils on enforcement of anti-littering laws. Policy Exchange's new report said a ‘significantly more aggressive approach’ was needed to tackling littering and fly-tipping, which together cost the UK £1bn. The think-tank argued that on-the-spot fines should be increased from £65 to £195 and maximum fines from £150 to £450.

Business Secretary warns energy suppliers to end mistreatment of customers

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 22 January 2023

On 22 January 2023, The Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps pledged to crack down on the mistreatment of energy users by suppliers, following reports showing some are doing nowhere near enough to support vulnerable customers.

Bristol City Council secures £1bn investment plan to help the city reach net-zero

edie | 20 January 2023

Bristol City Council has finalised a new long-term plan to bring in more than £1bn of investment to make the city carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2030.

Bristol City Council was one of the first local authorities to declare a climate emergency, making its announcement in 2018. It has since committed to delivering a net-zero city region by 2030 and doubling wildlife in the same timeframe.  Also in this timeframe, it is striving to deliver a net-zero carbon energy system through its City Leap Project with Bristol Energy.

Reading's Low Carbon Leisure Programme

Local Government Association | 20 January 2023

Reading Borough Council is investing in modern, regionally-significant leisure facilities to improve health and wellbeing whilst ensuring alignment with its ambitious climate commitments. This comes after years of limited investment in its leisure assets, Reading Council is now meeting its aspiration to provide the modern facilities that the town's size and status deserves.

Using data to decarbonise Birmingham

Local Government Association | 20 January 2023

Local government has an important role to play when it comes to achieving both UK and global climate targets, but how can data be used to plan and implement climate initiatives more effectively? “Project 3D” is an innovative, data led project that is supporting Birmingham to meet decarbonisation targets.

Deposit Return Scheme for drinks containers moves a step closer

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 20 January 2023

This press release from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs sets out a new cash incentive system, placing deposits on drinks bottles and cans to try and boost recycling from 2025. Recycling plastic bottles and drink cans  will be made easier for tens of millions of people thanks to a new deposit return scheme. . For LGA’s response, please see: Prioritise reducing waste – LGA responds to announcement on deposit return schemes

Khan faces new pushback over ULEZ expansion

Local Gov | 20 January 2023

The London Borough of Sutton has called on London mayor Sadiq Khan to delay the planned rollout of the expansion of the capital’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) across all London boroughs, which is currently scheduled for 29 August.

The Crown Estate seals landmark agreements for offshore wind energy to power 7 million homes

The Crown Estate | 19 January 2023

In a major milestone for the UK’s energy security and net zero commitments, The Crown Estate announced on 19 January 2023 that it has signed Agreements for Lease for six offshore wind projects which could begin to generate green electricity by the end of the decade and have the potential to generate c.8GW of renewable electricity, enough for more than seven million homes.

‘Levelling up’ funding boost for green employment and transport schemes

ENDS Report | 19 January 2023

Green research, employment and transport initiatives across the UK, including a "clean maritime innovation centre" in Devon and a "green technology and innovation network" in Greater Manchester, have secured millions of pounds of grant funding from the government under its latest Levelling Up Fund allocations.

Eden Project North and carbon-neutral Blackpool campus among projects sharing £2bn levelling up funding

edie | 19 January 2023

On 19 January 2023, The UK Government announced the list of 111 successful projects who were selected to receive a share of the £2.1bn Levelling Up Fund. While many focus on improving the provision of local services like youth clubs, sports centres and village halls, there are also many projects that will contribute to the UK’s commitments to reduce emissions from transport and buildings and to increase public engagement with nature.

Electric vehicle smart chargepoint survey 2022

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 17 January 2023

This survey report presents  electric vehicle drivers’ attitudes and use of smart charging at home and in the workplace, informing the evaluation of the Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2022.

Britishvolt falls into administration, jeapordising plans for Gigafactory in Blyth

edie | 17 January 2023

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday morning that Britishvolt staff had been told by leadership that the firm had secured a takeover offer but that its creditors had rejected this offer. As such, it entered administration.

Energy bills: British flat dwellers with communal heating could sue operators

The Guardian | 16 January 2023

Residents of flats with communal heating systems could mount a legal claim against their network operators after experiencing rises of up to 700% in their bills. Lawyers are investigating the possibility of a legal claim on behalf of residents whose home heating and hot water is supplied through a heat network.

London borough says it will block installation of ULEZ cameras to send "strong signal" to Mayor

Local Government Lawyer | 13 January 2023

As part of its opposition to the scheme, Sutton Council has announced that it will block the installation of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) cameras in the borough, arguing that the scheme is “unfair to its residents”.

Council-owned companies post mixed financial results

letsrecycle.com | 13 January 2023

The ending of the 2022 calendar year saw a string of local authority owned trading companies with responsibility for waste and recycling post their financial results. Barbora Vaclavova explores the results, many of which demonstrated varied approaches and successes.

Coastal landfill time bomb needs urgent action

Local Government Association | 12 January 2023

A new survey has revealed that hundreds of historic coastal landfill sites across the country are at risk of polluting Britain’s beaches and waterways.  The survey from the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group (LGA Coastal SIG), in collaboration with Coastal Group Network, shows that 26 coastal councils have sites already spilling large amounts of waste onto cliffs and beaches.

Appellant applies to Supreme Court in challenge of planning approval for farm buildings near River Wye catchment area

Local Government Lawyer | 11 January 2023

An appellant whose case against Herefordshire Council over planning permission for farm buildings bordering the River Wye catchment area has asked the Supreme Court to hear his claim that planning permission was given unlawfully.

Reforms outlined for Britain’s capacity market to secure a clean energy future

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 9 January 2023

A press release from DEFRA asserts that improved energy security and a more secure transition to net zero are set to be delivered through the UK government’s significant proposals to reform Great Britain’s Capacity Market.

LGA ‘remains concerned’ bill will hit in-house deals

letsrecycle.com | 9 January 2023

The Local Government Association (LGA) “remains concerned” that the procurement bill will impact the awarding of in-house contracts, despite “helpful discussions” with ministers.

Essex’s Make Rain Happy scheme to reduce flooding

UK100 | 9 January 2023

A pilot green infrastructure scheme that uses rain gardens, swale, tree planting, and over 1,300 plants has helped to reduce surface water flooding on a residential street in Essex. The scheme, popular among residents, includes a footbridge to the greenspace, ‘X-grid parking’, and an information board that explains its features. After creating “one of the best-looking roads on Canvey”, the council is now finding other sites to scale up the scheme across the county.

Gloucester’s plan to cut commuting emissions

UK100 | 9 January 2023

Gloucester City Council’s new Green Travel Plan aims to provide a route map for reducing surface transport emissions and improving air quality. It does this through 15 recommendations, including to explore segregated cycling infrastructure and to embed the council’s agile working policy. The project team ran a staff survey to inform the plan, which gave the council its first accurate read of officer commuting emissions. Not only did this bolster the recommendations, but it also moves the council’s climate work in a more focused and hard data-driven direction.

Wind generated a record amount of electricity in 2022

BBC News | 6 January 2023

On 6 January 2023, the National Grid announced that Great Britain produced a record amount of wind-powered electricity in 2022. It was also announced that more electricity came from renewable and nuclear power sources than from fossil fuels gas and coal, the second highest after 2020.

UK MPs propose bold policy wishlist for super-charging the energy transition

edie | 5 January 2023

A group of MPs are starting the new year with calls for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to bring forward new measures to accelerate the energy transition, including a firm end date for new oil and gas licencing and measures to improve energy efficiency in one million homes per year.

Offset options to achieve net zero by 2030

Local Government Association | 5 January 2023

Devon County Council (DCC) set a net zero target by 2030, and is implementing a carbon reduction plan to reduce its emissions by 70 per cent. This leaves about 116,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to offset at 2030/31 and beyond. Devon’s preferred offset is via nature-based solutions such as woodland creation. This case study sets out the options that have been trialled and the next steps.

Review of consents for major energy infrastructure projects and Special Protection Areas, 2022

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 3 January 2023  

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched a consultation on reviewing its decision to grant permission and consents for major energy infrastructure projects and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). The BEIS sought views on its draft Appropriate Assessment of Likely Significant Effects report for a review of consents for major energy infrastructure projects in view of the SPAs nature conservation designations. The consultation closed at 11:45pm on 31 January 2023.

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Delivering Value

The Housing Sector and Mould

As part of a three-part series, we recently considered health and safety issues arising from the recent inquest of Awaab Ishak. In this article, we consider the particular duties which apply to the housing sector in respect of safeguarding children, which this case has highlighted.

As we examined in part one of our article, on 15 November 2022, following six days of evidence at Rochdale Coroner’s Court, an inquest found that prolonged exposure to black mould in the home environment was “entirely” responsible for a respiratory condition that ultimately led to the tragic death of two-year old Awaab Ishak.

Given the very young age of Awaab Ishak when he died, the case highlights the need to ensure the most vulnerable, including children that live in social housing are protected.

In essencesection 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on organisations and any services they contract out to others, to have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This includes local authorities and district councils that provide children’s and other types of services, including children’s and adult social care services, public health, housing, sport, culture and leisure services, licensing authorities and youth services. Organisations are expected to have in place a senior board level lead who is sufficiently qualified and experienced to take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s safeguarding arrangements.

The latest statutory guidance published by the Department for Education is Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (Working Together).

This guidance notes that under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004, authorities must take account of the impact of health and safety hazards in housing on vulnerable occupants, including children, when deciding on the action to be taken by landlords to improve conditions.

Where housing services are being delivered not by a local authority, but by voluntary organisations, charities, social enterprises and private sector organisations and agencies, these organisations will still play an important role in safeguarding children through the services they deliver. Safeguarding is a shared responsibility.

Organisations and agencies should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Information sharing and lessons learnt

Information sharing and an understanding of partnership agencies' responsibilities under the Children Act 2004 are very important in order to safeguard and protect children.

In this case, the Coroner’s findings included “evidence that in 2020 there were numerous different IT systems in use within [Rochdale Boroughwide Housing “RBH”] RBH and not everyone who had contact with the family would have had access to the same information, hence some RBH employees would not have been aware of the concerns raised by [the health visitor], others may not have been aware a child resided in the property”.

The Coroner also noted that a number of health professionals were involved with the family; these included health visitors, midwives and the GP. All health professionals were asked about the information-sharing process between their services. The Coroner found that “there was an evident gap in the information-sharing between health visitors/midwives/early help services and the GP”.

 A failure to share information may also have been impacted upon by a lack of understanding by professionals as to when they can and should share in respect of promoting a child’s welfare, which is often a common theme when serious case reviews take place.

Whilst the section 11 duty can seem onerous, with basic and sound safeguarding knowledge and practice the housing sector will be well placed to demonstrate both compliance and children safety.

Please use this link to read other articles in this series.

If you would like any further information, please contact Julia Jones.

Publications & Guidance

Progress in improving mental health services in England

National Audit Office | 9 February 2023

Despite funding and staffing levels for mental health services increasing, and more patients being treated, millions of people with mental health needs are still not accessing services, with some facing lengthy waits for treatment, according to a new National Audit Office (NAO) report.

Delayed hospital discharges and adult social care

UK Parliament | 6 February 2023

What is the Government doing to reduce the number of people staying in hospital longer than necessary?

Latest NHS reforms will not succeed until Government fixes longstanding problems

UK Parliament | 8 February 2023

Major new reform of the NHS will not work until Government addresses multiple chronic issues in the service, says PAC in a report. The case has not been made for what improvements Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) will bring to patients, and by when.

Children and Families Act 2014: government response to the Lords Select Committee report

Department for Education | 6 February 2023

This command paper sets out the government’s response to the recommendations made by the House of Lords Children and Families Act 2014 Committee in its report ‘Children and Families Act 2014: A failure of implementation’.

Local Government Finance Settlement 2023/24

House of Commons Library | 3 February 2023

This briefing paper sets out the details of the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for England for the 2023/24 financial year. The Settlement distributes a range of grant funds to all local authorities in England. The provisional Settlement was published on 19 December 2022, alongside a Written Ministerial Statement; the final version of the Settlement will go before the House of Commons for approval on Wednesday 8 February 2023.

Children’s social care reform: implementation strategy and consultation

Local Government Association | 3 February 2023

Keeping children safe is one of the most important roles a council fulfils. While England remains one of the safest places in the world to grow up thanks to the tireless work of our children’s services colleagues and their partners, we agree that significant reform is needed to ensure the right systems are in place to not only protect children, but to help them and their families to thrive.

Ombudsman issues guide for care providers on good record keeping

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 2 February 2023

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has issued a guide to help care providers learn from its complaints involving record keeping.

Long-term strategy launched to fix children’s social care

Department for Education | 2 February 2023

Vulnerable children will be better supported to stay with their families in safe and loving homes, as part of an overhaul of children’s social care. Backed by £200m over the next two years, a new, ambitious and wide-ranging children’s social care implementation strategy will transform the current care system to focus on more early support for families, reducing the need for crisis response at a later stage.

The plan responds to recommendations made by three independent reviews by Josh MacAlister, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel into the tragic murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson, and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The findings revealed the current care system is often fragmented, siloed, and struggling to meet the needs of children and families across England.

New report suggests greater use of digital technology is a crucial step in reforming adult social care

County Councils Network | 2 February 2023

Tunstall Healthcare and the County Councils Network (CCN) have launched a brand-new report which argues that the potential of technology to support those with social care needs is growing ‘exponentially’ each year.

This new report follows  the 2021 report ‘Employing Assistive Technology in Adult Social Care’, also delivered by the CCN and Tunstall and looks into the impact of digital technology on adult social care, and the importance of implementing digital change across the care landscape.

Public health strengths and risk tool

Local Government Association | 1 February 2023

The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) and the Local Government Association (LGA), in consultation with SOLACE, have developed a tool to support system leaders in local authorities in defining and ensuring good public health at place.

Reforming the Mental Health Act

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

This briefing outlines the background to the reforms to the Mental Health Act 1983, including the main proposals in the white paper, the consultation and Government response, the draft Mental Health Bill and pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Mental Health Act applies in England and Wales only. There are separate statutory provisions covering Scotland and Northern Ireland.

New visits to understand children’s experience of alternative provision

Ofsted | 26 January 2023

Ofsted and the CQC have published guidance for the first series of thematic visits to be carried out under the new area SEND inspection arrangements.

Local government taxation

House of Commons Library | 24 January 2023

A briefing paper on local government taxation, including taxes currently available to UK local authorities and recent debates on alternative local taxes.

Thurrock Council: Commissioner’s first report

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 24 January 2023

Commissioner’s first report to the Secretary of State detailing the progress of the intervention at Thurrock Council.

Reimagining Care Commission

The Church of England | 24 January 2023

In a new report published on 24th January 2023, the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care calls for a National Care Covenant. This would set out the responsibilities of everyone involved in care and support: individuals, families, communities and local and national government. To read LGA’s response, please see: We must shift the narrative on ageing and disability – LGA responds to Archbishops’ Commission report on Reimagining Care

Urgent support for public sport and leisure services

Local Government Association | 23 January 2023

Leisure centres and swimming pools are more than a lifestyle choice, they are a vital service, but the sector is facing an extraordinary financial crisis. Without Government support, local leisure services and their benefits will disappear. Please find LGA’s joint letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and Secretary of State Michael Gove here

Emergency health services are in crisis

UK Parliament | 19 January 2023

Access to emergency healthcare is in crisis; the current position is a national emergency. The Government should respond with an emergency approach and take steps to remedy the situation in the longer term. This is the conclusion of a report by the Public Services Committee now published.

Government urged to strengthen draft Mental Health Bill

UK Parliament | 19 January 2023

The Government’s draft Mental Health Bill must be strengthened to address rising numbers detained under current legislation and tackle unacceptable and inexcusable failures on racial inequalities, say MPs and Peers.

Adult Social Care Funding (England)

House of Commons Library | 17 January 2023

This briefing focuses on local authority funding for adult social care in England. Information on the funding that people may be able to get to help with social care costs is available in a separate Library briefing: Paying for adult social care in England.

Handling strike action in schools

Department for Education | 16 January 2023

The guidance has been updated to ask schools to prioritise vulnerable children and young people, children of critical workers, and pupils due to take public examinations and other formal assessments where they have no option but to restrict attendance. Other updates include changes to regulation on engaging with agency staff, providing remote education where practical and reasonable to do so, and best practice on managing staff shortages.


Revealed: Seven in ten councils to raise council tax by the maximum

Local Government Chronicle | 13 February 2023

Seven in ten councils plan to raise council tax by the maximum amount allowed without a referendum this year, according to LGC's annual council tax tracker.

Thousands of families to benefit from local support in rollout of Family Hubs

Department for Education | 9 February 2023

Thousands of families across England will be offered help and support with issues such as infant feeding, mental health and relationship building thanks to Family Hubs being rolled out in local communities.

Capital projects going ahead despite headwinds

Public Finance | 8 February 2023

Councils are continuing to invest in capital projects, despite recent interest rates rises and higher costs, experts have said.

Gove green lights above-threshold council tax rises at Croydon, Thurrock and Slough to tackle continued financial woes

Local Government Lawyer | 8 February 2023

The Government has given the go-ahead to three financially troubled councils to raise council tax by as much as 10% without a referendum.

Over 8 million families in the UK to receive new Cost of Living Payment this Spring

Department for Work and Pensions | 7 February 2023

Over eight million families in the UK will continue to receive direct financial support from Government, with the first of five Cost of Living Payments – worth £301 – hitting bank accounts this spring.

Government confirms £60bn for local authorities to deliver vital services

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 6 February 2023

The local government finance settlement has confirmed £60bn for councils to deliver local services. To read LGA’s response, please see: Local Government Finance Settlement: LGA statement.

Local public health services at risk amid funding uncertainty

Local Government Association | 3 February 2023

The LGA is calling on the Government to urgently publish the Public Health Grant funding allocations. Time is running out for councils to set budgets and spending plans and to make critical decisions on renewing contracts for vital public health services.

Children’s social care: CMA recommendations accepted by UK government

Competition and Market Authority | 2 February 2023

All recommendations made by the CMA to tackle issues in the children’s social care market in England have been accepted by the Department for Education.

Unions call for inflation-busting local government pay rise

Public Finance | 1 February 2023

The three major unions representing council workers in England have requested an above inflation pay offer for 2023-24, to start reversing “years of pay erosion”.

Council urged to be cautious over further ‘commercial opportunities’

Public Finance | 31 January 2023

A senior minister has warned that plans for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to create additional revenues must keep to the “spirit and intent” of local government guidance.

NHS to expand services to keep vulnerable out of hospital

Department of Health and Social Care | 30 January 2023

Tens of thousands of elderly and vulnerable people will receive tailored support at home as part of a new NHS plan to improve waiting times for emergency care.

Mental health services boosted by £150m government funding

Department of Health and Social Care | 23 January 2023

Anyone experiencing a mental health emergency will benefit from more tailored emergency care and support in the community through specialised mental health ambulances, more crisis services and improved health-based places of safety.

A £150m investment up to April 2025 will better support people experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – mental health crises to receive care and support in more appropriate settings outside of A&E, helping to ease pressures facing the NHS.

Local government workforce shortages adding to service pressures – LGA survey

Local Government Association | 21 January 2023

The significant staff shortages in local government risk having a serious impact on councils’ capacity to deliver services. It is also restricting their ability to help government meet key pledges.

Blog: Addressing concerns on the use of AI by local authorities

Information Commissioners’ Office | 20 January 2023

An inquiry into councils’ use of artificial intelligence (AI) by the data protection regulator has found it is lawful and non-discriminatory.

Question mark over care ratings

The MJ | 18 January 2023

Threatened Ofsted-style quality ratings for adult social care and integrated systems may not be introduced with the Government yet to formally back them.

Ministers pressed over refugee funding cuts

The MJ | 17 January 2023

MPs have questioned the rationale behind Government cuts to funding for Ukranian refugees.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee yesterday pressed ministers over what assessments had been made before reducing the funding from £10,500 per person to £5,900, leaving councils to pick up any shortfall.

MPs launch new inquiry into persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils

UK Parliament | 12 January 2023

A new inquiry by the Education Committee will investigate causes and possible solutions to the growing issue of children’s absence from school.

Major child safeguarding concerns in out-of-school settings prompt renewed calls from councils for tougher powers

Local Government Association | 9 January 2023

Tougher powers are needed for councils to oversee and regulate out-of-school settings (OOSS) – including being able to shut down illegal schools – after an independent report commissioned by the Government uncovered major safeguarding concerns.


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Place & Growth

Service Charge Certificates – how conclusive are they?

Service charge disputes are not uncommon; they frequently occur in relation to the amount a landlord is charging for works, the cost of supplying services and even the extent and coverage of insurance. To reduce the ability to dispute the sums claimed, most leases will include a clause stating that the service charge certificate (SCC) provided by the landlord is conclusive and binding on the tenant (unless an obvious error or fraud is involved).

The recent Supreme Court decision in Sara and Hossein Asset Holdings Ltd v Blacks Outdoor Retail Ltd [2023] has provided clarity on how effective these clauses can be.

Blacks, the well-known outdoor clothing and equipment retailer (B) held two leases of a shop in Liverpool granted by its landlord Sara and Hossein (S). The leases contained identical service charge clauses which stated that:

  1. S would provide a certificate as to the amount of the total cost and the sum payable by B and in the “absence of manifest or mathematical error or fraud such certificate shall be conclusive”
  2. B could not exercise any right or claim to “withhold rent or any right or claim to legal or equitable set-off or counterclaim (save as required by law)”

In 2019, S brought a claim in the High Court against B for substantial arrears of service charge and B responded with a detailed set-off and counterclaim. Following decisions by the High Court and Court of Appeal, B appealed to the Supreme Court (UKSC).

The UKSC agreed with the decision made by the Court of Appeal that the SCC was conclusive as to the sum payable by B (both the amount of the total cost incurred and the itemised sums payable by the tenant) as this is consistent with the contractual wording and “avoids surprising implications and uncommercial consequences”.

However, the UKSC disagreed with the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of the underlying liability of S. The UKSC implemented a “pay now, argue later” approach to reconcile the rights of both landlord and tenant so that:

  1. B is required to pay the sums due under the SCC to S. This will prevent any adverse effect on a landlord’s cash flow and will avoid a situation where a tenant may refuse payment whenever a charge is disputed; but
  2. B may take further action in the High Court to seek repayment of any costs B believes to have been improperly charged.

The UKSC concluded that S was right to apply for summary judgment in the Court of Appeal, but that the no set-off provision in the lease does not prevent B from pursuing a counterclaim in future.

Although these clauses are commonly seen, this case illustrates the danger of including “standard wording” without considering the circumstances.  A well-advised tenant should seek to amend these clauses, for example in a lease without a service charge cap (as in this case), agreeing that a landlord’s certificate is conclusive as to the sums charged may not be advisable.

For further help and guidance on service charges, please contact David Hobbs.


New fire safety regulations come into force in England

Home Office | 23 January 2023

These are new requirements for ‘responsible persons’ of mid and high-rise blocks of flats to provide information to fire and rescue services to assist them with operational planning and provide additional safety measures. In all multi-occupied residential buildings, residents should now be provided with fire safety instructions and information on fire doors.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 are now law from 23 January and form part of a package of sensible, risk mitigating fire safety measures that the government is delivering following the Grenfell Tower fire to keep the public safe.

Publications & Guidance

Government acts to overhaul Prevent in the fight against radicalisation

Home Office | 8 February 2023

The Home Secretary has committed to delivering wholesale and rapid change across Prevent following a major independent review into the programme. For LGA’s response, please see: ‘Stopping terrorism requires a broad and joined-up approach’: LGA responds to Prevent review.

Decision making process for major infrastructure requires clearer prioritisation and evaluation

UK Parliament | 7 February 2023

The Built Environment Committee has published a letter to the Government on its inquiry into infrastructure policymaking and implementation in central government.

Brownfield development and protecting the Green Belt

House of Commons Library | 6 February 2023

A debate on brownfield development and protecting the Green Belt has been scheduled for Westminster Hall for Thursday 9 February 2023. The debate will be opened by Wendy Morton MP.

Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda: Committee publishes Government response

UK Parliament | 3 February 2023

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes the Government response to its report on the role of culture in ‘levelling up’ the UK.

Enterprise Zones

House of Commons Library | 1 February 2023

There are currently 48 operational Enterprise Zones in England. Similar policies have been adopted by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Businesses in these small areas will benefit from tax and planning concessions and superfast broadband.

UK Infrastructure Bank Bill [HL] 2022-23

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

The UK Infrastructure Bank Bill 2022-23 would put the UK Infrastructure Bank on a statutory footing and clarify its powers to lend to local government.

The bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 12 July 2022 having completed its passage through the House of Lords. Second reading of the bill in the House of Commons took place on 1 November 2022. The bill was considered by a Public Bill Committee over two sittings on 22 November 2022.

This paper summarises the background and content of the bill and its House of Lords stages. The bill, and its Explanatory Notes, can be found on the Parliamentary website.

Households in temporary accommodation (England)

House of Commons Library | 30 January 2023

This paper provides data on homeless households in temporary accommodation in England and outlines initiatives and issues associated with the use of temporary accommodation.

Developer remediation contract

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

Government wrote to developers on 30 January 2023 asking them to sign a contract committing them to remediate unsafe buildings which they developed. Read the press release here: Six weeks for developers to sign contract to fix unsafe buildings

January 2023 – update on government’s work to improve the quality of social housing

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 26 January 2023

The government has a programme of reform to improve the quality of social housing. Every month, progress on our commitments will be shared on these pages, as part of our commitment to respond to the tragic death of 2 year old Awaab Ishak.

UK Poverty 2023: The essential guide to understanding poverty in the UK

Joseph Rowntree Foundation | 26 January 2203

UK Poverty 2023 sets out recent trends in poverty across the UK, how levels of poverty differ between groups of people and regions, and the impact it has on people’s lives. These findings can help us to understand the current situation and future prospects for poverty in the UK.

Progress towards the Government’s Levelling Up Missions in the East of England

House of Commons Library | 27 January 2023

There will be a Westminster Hall debate on progress towards the Government’s Levelling Up Missions in the East of England on Tuesday 31 January.

UK local authority connectivity priorities for 2023 - new report

FarrPoint | 26 January 2023

The FarrPoint survey of local authority digital leaders across the UK is the first research to look at priorities across fixed and mobile connectivity specifically within local authority areas - and the barriers that can prevent progress.

Making the case for investing in homelessness prevention

Local Government Association | 26 January 2023

The LGA and Local Partnerships worked with Leeds and Cornwall Councils during 2022 to build a case for investment in homelessness prevention. The work included starting to develop a clearer understanding of what approaches have worked in homelessness prevention, how much they cost, what costs may have been avoided, and some of the benefits accrued by their implementation.

Which areas have benefited from the Levelling Up Fund?

House of Commons Library | 25 January 2023

The Government announced the results of the second round of the Levelling Up Fund on 19 January 2023, awarding £2.1bn to 111 projects. Combined with first round results, announced in October 2021, the Levelling Up Fund has awarded £3.8bn to 216 projects.

This insight looks at the background to the Levelling Up Fund and analyses where this funding has been allocated.

Cities Outlook 2022

Centre for Cities | 24 January 2023

Cities Outlook 2022 looks in-depth at the state of UK high streets to get a sense of the short-term impact of the pandemic on Britain's town and city centres and the long-term consequences and implications this has for the Government’s levelling up agenda.

Planning policy

House of Commons Library | 24 January 2023

A Westminster Hall debate on planning policy has been scheduled for 3.00pm on Thursday 26 January 2023. The subject for the debate was selected by the Backbench Business Committee, and the debate will be opened by Mr Bob Seely MP.

Local government out of area placements guidance

Local Government Association | 23 January 2023

Guidance setting out best practice and procedure on out of area placements in another local authority area within England. This applies to accommodation used to meet the duties set out in homelessness legislation, as well as when a local authority is supporting a child under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, where this support includes provision of accommodation.

Business rates: the 2023 revaluation

House of Commons Library | 23 January 2023

A briefing paper explaining the revaluation of business rates that will come into effect on 1 April 2023, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Local growth funds

House of Commons Library | 20 January 2023

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

Standardisation of Lease Terms: Preferred Terms

Cabinet Office | 20 January 2023

To promote consistent and appropriate lease terms for government property.

Levelling Up Round 2: thematic and geographic analysis

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 19 January 2023

This provides geographic and thematic information regarding Levelling Up Fund bids in the second round and also across both of its rounds of funding.

Statutory homelessness duties: Homes for Ukraine

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

When and how council statutory homelessness duties apply within the scheme.

Leasehold high-rise flats: Who pays for fire safety work?

House of Commons Library | 12 January 2023

This paper considers who's responsible for paying for fire safety works on blocks of flats in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Levelling Up Home Building Fund: Case studies

Homes England | 9 January 2023

Take a look at these case studies to see how a development loan has benefitted other small and medium housebuilders.


£200m to improve walking and cycling routes and boost local economies

Department for Transport | 6 February 2023

Schools, high streets and main roads will benefit from improved crossings and junctions to support walking and cycling, reduce emissions and boost local economies, thanks to a £200m fund announced on 6 February 2023.

Thousands of lives improved with 120 Changing Places toilets

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 6 February 2023

Severely disabled people will benefit from better facilities and greater accessibility in their local areas as councils across England receive their share of over £7m government funding to build Changing Places toilets.

Planning policy inquiry launched by Levelling Up Committee

UK Parliament | 3 February 2023

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee has announced that it will be examining the Government’s current consultation on reforms to national planning policy, looking at the proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Government’s wider approach to planning reform.

Levelling Up Secretary's speech to the Convention of the North

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 25 January 2023

Bringing growth back home – the moral purpose of levelling up.

DLUHC: Unspent UKSPF allocations can be rolled over to next year

Local Government Chronicle | 24 January 2023

Local authorities with a “credible plan” to spend this year's allocation from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be able to roll funding over to next year, a senior official said yesterday.

Local communities to get £750,000 for Windrush 75th anniversary celebrations

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 19 January 2023

Applications for the Windrush Day Grant Scheme 2023 are now open. Applications must be completed by midday on Wednesday 22 February 2023. DLUHC will announce the winning projects later this year.

Landmark Levelling Up Fund to spark transformational change across the UK

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 18 January 2023

Landmark levelling up funding will breathe new life into more than 100 communities, with up to £2.bn for transformational projects across the United Kingdom. These include Eden Project North visitor attraction in Morecambe, a new AI campus in Blackpool, a new rail link in Cornwall, and a major regeneration scheme in Gateshead that will create jobs and grow the economy. For LGA’s response, see: Levelling up should be led by evidence: LGA responds to Levelling Up Fund second round announcement

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Governance & Reorganisation

The Levelling Up Agenda set to occupy headlines for 2023

It has been an eventful start of the year for those with an interest in The Levelling Up Agenda, which can be best described as a “loosely connected set of policies designed to address the longstanding problem of the UK’s regional economic disparities”.

The Levelling Up Fund was announced in November 2020 as part of the 2020 Spending Review and the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper was published in February 2022 as a “plan to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it”. The funding allocations for Round 1 of the Levelling Up Fund were published on 27 October 2021, with a total value of £1.7bn.

On 19 January 2023, the Government announced their funding allocations for Round 2 of the Levelling Up Fund with 111 areas being awarded a share of £2.1bn. However, the Round 2 allocations have led to criticism from local authorities who were unsuccessful in their applications, particularly as some local authorities reportedly spent considerable resources on their failed funding bids. The Culture Secretary’s recent admission that areas which had been successful in Round 1 would not receive funding from Round 2 caused further criticism.

On 25 January 2023 at the Convention of the North, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced three new devolution deals and additional funding of £30m for Greater Manchester and West Midlands combined authorities to improve social housing in the wake of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale.

This was followed by the Treasury’s move in February 2023 to ban the DLUHC from spending money on new capital projects without Treasury approval (allegedly amid concerns about how well public money is being managed). This change may have implications for local authorities involved in DLUHC funded projects as previously the DLUHC could spend up to £30m on capital projects without further approval.

As successful local authorities receiving Round 2 funding commence the early stages of Levelling Up funded projects, unsuccessful local authorities look to lessons learned, and alongside the potential impacts for receiving Treasury approval for DLUHC funded projects, it appears that the Levelling Up Agenda will remain high on the agenda for 2023.

If you have any questions regarding the Levelling Up Agenda and/or Government funding of local authority projects, please contact David Kitson.

Publications & Guidance

New FOI resources to support public authorities

Information Commissioner’s Office | 2 February 2023

ICO have developed a suite of products to help public bodies improve their compliance with freedom of information law and respond to information requests without delay. That includes resources to assess compliance proactively, an action plan for improving services that can be easily adapted to different circumstances, and toolkits that can help public authorities comply with their legal duties.

Applying for a Voter Authority Certificate

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

Voter Authority Certificates (VACs) are a new form of photo ID for use when voting in UK Parliamentary, PCC and English local elections. They are designed for people who don’t have another form of photo ID accepted at the polls.

Showing ID when voting

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

Voters need to show photographic ID at polling stations in several types of UK elections. Those who try to vote in person at these elections without ID will be turned away and asked to come back to the polling station with it. Voters need to be registered to vote to take part in any UK election.

Voting whilst living abroad

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

Some British citizens living abroad can register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections. These people can also vote in referendums that use the Parliamentary electoral register. British citizens living abroad can’t vote in other types of elections.

Registering to vote

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

In the UK people must be registered in order to vote at elections. Those eligible can register to vote online or by sending a paper form to the Electoral Registration Office.

Sustainability of local journalism

UK Parliament | 26 January 2023

Members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee have recommended expanding the BBC's Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) and called for a review of the statutory notices rules amid a warning that local news offerings will continue to decline without Government support.

Office for Local Government: interim chair appointment letter

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 25 January 2023

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced the appointment of Lord Morse as the new interim chair of the Office for Local Government. Lord Morse will play a significant leadership role in the establishment of the Office for Local Government, providing supportive challenge and advising on both the immediate delivery and strategic direction of the office for a period of 18 months.

Progress update: Timeliness of local auditor reporting on local government in England

National Audit Office | 25 January 2023

This report provides a factual update on local auditor reporting since our March 2021 report. We set out:

  • An up-to-date position on the timeliness of audit opinions issued on local government bodies in England (local authorities, local police bodies, local fire bodies) and other bodies (combined authorities, functional bodies, local transport, national parks authorities, pensions authorities and waste disposal authorities)
  • An assessment of the impact of delays to local government audit opinions
  • the steps government and others have taken to address concerns reflected in PAC’s 2021 and 2022 recommendations. These concerns covered the need to: support the local audit market; increase the supply of qualified auditors; and reform the local audit system

The Future of Local Councils

Society of Local Council Clerks | 25 January 2023

SLCC has collaborated with the Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC) at De Montfort University (DMU) to conduct an important survey of parish, town and community council clerks across England and Wales; the first comprehensive, national survey of the local council sector in more than thirty years. It reveals how these local councils, the tier of government closest to the people they serve, have changed, taking on so much more and being central to the running of their communities. Read the report in full here.

Leading in Practice: report

Committee on Standards in Public Life | 24 January 2023

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published its report on the role of leadership in embedding an ethical culture in organisations.

Open letter to public sector leaders on ethical leadership

Committee on Standards in Public Life | 24 January 2023

Lord Evans, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, writes to public sector leaders on ethical leadership.

Government response to Electoral Commission report published

UK Parliament | 19 January 2023

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published the Government’s response to the Committee’s report on The Work of the Electoral Commission.

Can I see your ID? Proving who you are at the polling station

House of Commons Library | 17 January 2023

People without an acceptable form of voter ID can apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate to show at the polls.


PM: Making government deliver for the British people

Prime Minister’s Office | 7 February 2023

The Prime Minister, with the approval of His Majesty The King, has created four new departments. Also see: Making Government Deliver for the British People.

Council’s historic governance issues symptomatic of wider sector problems

Public Finance | 6 February 2023

A rare public interest report into historic governance issues at Cheshire East Council highlights the declining standards of public officials in recent years, the external auditors who published the document have said.

Last month Grant Thornton issued the statutory report, which found that between 2014 and 2015 the then-leader of the council attempted to bypass and override internal controls to influence senior officers.

The firm said some of his behaviour was “bullying, intimidatory and aimed at seeking to get his own way in matters without recourse to the normal procedures”.

Elections Act: The race to prepare for voter ID rules

Local Government Chronicle | 6 February 2023

Due to new government legislation councils face a race against time to prepare for local elections on 4 May.

Councils still vulnerable to online attacks, MPs told

The MJ | 6 February 2023

Councils must get together with insurers to work out how to protect themselves against the risk of cyber attacks, a leading security expert has warned.

Levelling Up Secretary in North East England to sign historic £1.4bn devolution deal

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

A landmark devolution deal has been signed in North East England by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and eight local leaders in the region.

ICO will reserve the power to fine for most “egregious cases” in new approach to enforcement of data protection

Local Government Lawyer | 27 January 2023

The Information Commissioner, John Edwards, has said that a change in approach to the enforcement of data protection within the public sector will put more emphasis on “calling out bad practice” rather than issuing fines.

Labour pledges 'legal obligation' to consider all devolution asks

Local Government Chronicle | 25 January 2023

A new Labour administration would make it a legal requirement for central government to consider all devolution requests, the shadow levelling up secretary has said.

Filling in the failure gap

The MJ | 25 January 2023

Max Caller has been investigating council failures since the 1990s. Heather Jameson talks to him about the importance of doing the boring stuff well and how risks could be better managed in future.

Officials may break law by using tablets at elections

The MJ | 25 January 2023

Returning officers (ROs) are weighing up whether to break the law by replacing paper registers with tablets at polling stations in May, The MJ understands.

Gove promises further devolution and funding changes

The MJ | 25 January 2023

Local government secretary Michael Gove has promised further devolution and changes to funding in the coming months.

Peer inspection of statutory officers required

The MJ | 25 January 2023

Local government should create its own register of statutory officers or risk further failures, Max Caller has told The MJ. Mr Caller, a regular reviewer and commissioner at failing authorities, said there was ‘no real rules’ on how the three statutory roles – monitoring officer, section 151 officer and head of paid service – should work and ‘no explicit qualifications’.

Councils threaten legal action over Norfolk devolution plans

Local Government Lawyer | 18 January 2023

Four councils in Norfolk have threatened legal action against the county council over its approach to devolution, arguing that there has been a lack of consultation. South Norfolk, Broadland, Breckland and North Norfolk district councils have sent a "letter before action" to the Conservative county council leader Andrew Proctor, ahead of a potential judicial review challenge over the process.

Improving the local government standards framework

Committee on Standards in Public Life | 12 January 2023

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published a blog by the Co-Founder of Hoey Ainscough, Paul Hoey, on improving ethical standards in local government.

New trailblazer deals to be delivered 'early this year', says minister

The MJ | 11 January 2023

Levelling up minister Dehenna Davison has underlined the Government’s commitments to give more revenue raising powers to local government and to conclude deeper devolution trailblazer deals in the early months of this year.

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Contract Management

Materiality of breaches

The recent case of Riverrock European Capital Partners LLP v Harnack & Anor has shown that when negotiating and drafting contracts, it is important to consider whether a “material” breach is the most appropriate trigger for rights to terminate the contract or to recover payments that have been made.

RiverRock were an investment firm supervised by the FCA and they appointed a UK company to manage one of its investment funds. The two individual defendants had undertaken to meet certain financial obligations of the UK company if certain agreements were terminated. There were difficulties in sourcing investors and RiverRock considered a change in the management and how it could terminate the agreement with the UK company.

During this time, the UK company had not filed a confirmation statement with Companies House and was struck off the companies register and dissolved. RiverRock did not take immediate action on learning about this, but later described the issue as being serious in nature and notified to the FCA. RiverRock consequently terminated the agreements with the UK company on the basis that the strike off and dissolution of the corporate entity was a material breach. RiverRock then claimed from the defendants the repayment of fees that had been paid to the UK company.

The court considered whether or not there had been a material breach, noting that the concept of a “material” breach is difficult to define depending on context and consequences that would flow. In this case the High Court did not give RiverRock relief on the basis that, on the facts at hand, whilst some of the events might have constituted a breach of the contract, none of the events would be considered a material breach. In particular in this case, the dissolution of the company had been due to an oversight and was readily capable of remedy. The Court also took into account that the claimant had not been overly concerned by the dissolution, only the consequences being the replacement of the defendants as fund managers. These consequences had already been intended by RiverRock and accordingly they were not entitled to the sums that they sought to recovery from the defendants.

Before asserting a claim of “material” breach, a party will want to think carefully about how the breach can be shown to be material and seek an explanation from the other party. Without a valid basis for asserting the breach and its materiality, a party risks its opening itself to a claim for wrongful termination or breach for example. If there are specific events that a party considers should be a trigger this should be considered at the point of drafting the contract and clearly set out in the terms to avoid any uncertainty.

For further help and guidance on contract drafting and management please contact Liz Fletcher.

Publications & Guidance

PPN 02/23: Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains

Cabinet Office | 10 February 2023

This guidance sets out how UK Government departments must take action to ensure modern slavery risks are identified and managed in government supply chains.

Cabinet Office Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Action Plan

Cabinet Office | 26 January 2023

Cabinet Office's SME Action Plan highlights the measures we are taking to ensure SMEs can better access new opportunities to supply government.

Procurement Bill: ECHR Memorandum

Cabinet Office | 25 January 2023

This memorandum addresses issues arising under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to the Procurement Bill.

PPN 01/23: Requirements to publish on Contracts Finder

Cabinet Office | 18 January 2023

This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) reminds in-scope organisations of the requirements to publish procurement information on Contracts Finder. 

This PPN and associated guidance replaces PPN 09/21 and clarifies that the contract value limits have been raised to £12,000 for Central government Authorities and £30,000 for sub-central contracting authorities (reflecting that these figures are inclusive of VAT), as well as NHS Foundation Trusts being treated consistently with NHS Trusts and placed alongside as sub-central authorities for the purpose of the below threshold regime.

Benefits for Prospective Suppliers to the Public Sector

Cabinet Office | 9 January 2023 

Our document ‘Benefits for Prospective Suppliers to the Public Sector’ sets out how the new regime will deliver a range of benefits for suppliers of all sizes wishing to do business and deliver contracts for the public sector.

Press release: Procurement Bill to unleash opportunities for SMEs to be debated in Parliament


PPE waste topped £15bn, NAO reveals | Public Finance 

Public Finance | 27 January 2023

With media and public interest mounting into government contracts during lockdown, the National Audit Office has revealed the scale of protective clothing meant for health workers, police and other professionals that was binned.

In an audit opinion for the Department for Health and Social Care’s 2021-22 accounts, the National Audit Office said the government wrote down £14.9bn spent on PPE during the pandemic. The watchdog said the majority (£8.9bn) of the impaired products were purchased in 2020-21 and the remainder (£6bn) bought last year.

Councils urged to check information sharing agreements following complaint

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 26 January 2023

Councils are being urged to check they have adequate information sharing agreements with their service providers, after one council was not able to comply with an agreed Ombudsman remedy because it could not get hold of the data needed.

London Borough of Ealing had agreed to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s recommendation to carry out a statutory Children’s Services complaint investigation to remedy a complaint from one of its foster carers.

Give councils the core role in local public accounts committees

The MJ | 25 January 2023

If the aims of the Public Procurement Bill are to become a reality, isn't it time to give local councils a genuine role in holding all local public service providers to account, asks Mo Baines.

Procurement standards: Supporting SMEs

The MJ | 24 January 2023

Mark Robinson looks at how councils can put their best foot forward when it comes to supporting and engaging with local SMEs - and help to mitigate the impact of this year’s recession.

Government faces judicial review over delay in publishing details of ventilator challenge contracts worth £250m

Local Government Lawyer | 16 January 2023

The Government is facing a judicial review challenge from the Good Law Project over a three-year delay in publishing the details of ventilator contracts worth £247m.

In a pre-action protocol letter sent to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Secretary of State for Defence, the legal campaign group claim the Government's failure to release the contracts amounts to a breach of Government policy on transparency.

Procurement Bill: call for evidence

UK Parliament | 10 January 2023

10 January 2023 | Do you have relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Procurement Bill [HL], which is currently passing through Parliament? If so, you can submit your views in writing to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee which is going to consider this Bill.

The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.

The Public Bill Committee will scrutinise the Bill line by line. The first sitting of the Public Bill Committee is expected to be on Tuesday 31 January and the Committee is scheduled to report by Thursday 23 February. However, please note that when the Committee concludes its consideration of the Bill it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can conclude earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Thursday 23 February. You are strongly advised to submit your written evidence as soon as possible.

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Disputes & Regulatory Support

People in Glass Houses

An unexpected Supreme Court win for flat owners in [Fearn and others (Appellants) v Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery (Respondent) [2023] UKSC 4]

In 2016, London’s Tate Modern opened its renowned public viewing platform, offering a 360-degree panoramic view of central London. The problem? The view included a direct line straight into the living areas of a block of flats opposite, which was constructed with floor-to ceiling windows.

The flat owners claimed that the use of the viewing platform was a nuisance and sought an injunction requiring the Tate to prevent members of the public from viewing their flats from certain areas of the viewing platform.

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court decided that the Tate’s viewing platform does give rise to an actionable nuisance. The viewing gallery means that living in the flats is “much like being on display in a zoo”. Departing from the decisions at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court reasserted the protections afforded by the common law to privacy in the home.

The Supreme Court confirmed that nuisance arises when:

  • there is substantial interference with the ordinary use and enjoyment of a claimant’s land, and
  • that interference is not consistent with the common and ordinary use of the defendant’s land.

Lord Leggatt found that the Tate’s viewing platform is not a “normal” use of the museum’s land and as such, causes a legal nuisance to the flat owners. It is important to note ‘mere’ overlooking was not the basis of the decision. Rather, it was the Tate’s invitation to patrons to look out into the flats opposite was key. That level of intrusion was not, in the Supreme Court’s eyes, a ‘common and ordinary use’ of Tate’s land, in the context of the locality. The Supreme Court was also influenced by the scale of the overlooking, bearing in mind that the viewing platform attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.

In view of this decision, there may well be further litigation on the issue of when ‘mere overlooking’ becomes ‘visual intrusion’ and when the use of land goes beyond what is ‘ordinary and common’, which could be relevant to local authorities.

If you have any queries please contact Steven Eccles or Kajel Patel.

Publications & Guidance

Certificate as to capacity to conduct proceedings

Official Solicitor and Public Trustee | 8 February 2023

A revised version of the form used to address (and where the person lacks the capacity, to explain in detail why that is the case) capacity to conduct proceedings has now been published. Please note, though it says on gov.uk that it is dated 1 September 2007, it is in fact current as to the law in 2023. Also see, Alex Ruck Keene KC (Hon)’s blog post on the revisions:  Revised certificate as to capacity to conduct proceedings form published.

Guidance for the Court of Protection: 'Closed hearings' and 'closed material'

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary | 19 January 2023

The Vice President of the Court of Protection has issued guidance on Court of Protection ‘closed hearings’ and ‘closed material’.

Court statistics for England and Wales

House of Commons Library | 31 January 2023

A guide to statistics on criminal and civil courts and tribunals, covering caseload, backlogs, performance, court closures and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Statement of Expected Behaviour

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary | 19 January 2023

This statement sets out the standards of behaviour expected from all judicial office holders in and outside the hearing room; with each other, staff and users.

Lord Chancellor and Law Officers must have the character, authority, intellect and independence to defend the rule of law

UK Parliament | 18 January 2023

The Constitution Committee publishes its ninth report of the session on the roles of the Lord Chancellor and the Law Officers.

Open letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Legal Action Group | January 2023

The Housing Law Practitioners Association (HLPA) has issued an open letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, amid concern over proposals it claims seek to “exclude the majority of people of modest or lesser means from the courts”.


City may be forced to ‘revisit judicial review’ over asylum seeker scheme

Local Government Chronicle | 13 February 2023

Coventry City Council has become the latest local authority to use planning enforcement action to prevent an asylum seekers hostel. The city was one of eight West Midlands councils that paused legal action against the Home Office last year but has now said it considering whether to restart that process.

Civil news: funding rules change affecting SEND Tribunal appeals

Legal Aid Agency | 10 February 2023

Foster parents and approved prospective adoptive parents can apply for means-free funding from 10 February for special educational needs appeals.

Report from planning officer in pulverised ash case was not misleading, Court of Appeal rules

Local Government Lawyer | 9 February 2023

In Whitley Parish Council, R (On the Application Of) v North Yorkshire County Council & Anor [2023] EWCA Civ 92, a parish council has lost its case in the Court of Appeal over whether North Yorkshire County Council should have given EP UK Investments permission to extract pulverised fuel ash from a previously worked and partly restored site.

Council faces new judicial review over decision to keep underpass open to motor traffic

Local Government Lawyer | 8 February 2023

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP Council) could face a second judicial review in a battle to keep motor vehicles from using an underpass that was closed to motor traffic during the pandemic.

Prepayment meters: magistrates told to stop allowing forced installations

The Guardian | 6 February 2023

Magistrates have been ordered to stop issuing warrants allowing energy firms to force fit prepayment meters in England and Wales. One of the country’s most senior judges, Lord Justice Edis, has told the courts to halt the authorisation of warrants amid concerns over vulnerable customers.

Fixed recoverable costs for housing kicked into long grass

Law Gazette | 6 February 2023

The government has confirmed it will delay the implementation of fixed costs in housing cases for two years. The Ministry of Justice said that it remains committed to the principle of fixed costs but wanted to wait to see the effect of other changes in the sector.

Court allows damages claim from protected party to go ahead over judicial acts in relation to anti-social behaviour injunction

Local Government Lawyer | 2 February 2023

A case against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and the Lord Chancellor can proceed and is not an abuse of process, Mr Justice Freedman has ruled in the High Court.

The case of MTA v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis & Anor [2023] EWHC 117 (KB) was brought by MTA, who is a protected party, by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor.

Failure by council to carry out its own age assessment of asylum seeker was unlawful, deputy High Court judge rules

Local Government Lawyer | 2 February 2023

A judge has criticised a council for its “unhelpful" conduct in a case involving the age assessment of a young asylum seeker.

In AF, R (On the Application Of) v Milton Keynes Council [2023] EWHC 163 (Admin) Susie Alegre, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, dismissed Milton Keynes Council’s contention that the case had become academic as claimant AF had since passed his 18th birthday even on his own evidence, and made a mandatory order for Milton Keynes to take a decision on his age.

High Court begins hearing case over £17bn unions claim was ‘taken’ from public sector pensions

Local Government Lawyer | 31 January 2023

The High Court has began hearing a case brought by GMB and a number of other unions over the £17bn they claim was ‘taken’ from public sector pensions.

Court of Appeal judge admits concern at “tortuous” process following fact-finding hearing in care proceedings but dismisses appeal

Local Government Lawyer | 31 January 2023

A Court of Appeal judge has dismissed a mother's appeal in care proceedings, despite expressing a number of concerns “about the prolonged and tortuous process that followed the fact-finding hearing”.

The case of C & Ors, Re (Care Proceedings: Fact-Finding) [2023] EWCA Civ 38 involved a large family. The father had nine children, four with his first wife, and five with his second wife ("the mother"). The family has been known to social services for a number of years

Family President renews judicial warnings over “substantial deficit” of secure accommodation for children, accuses Department of Education of seeming to “wash its hands” of problem

Local Government Lawyer | 30 January 2023

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has issued a judgment with the primary purpose, "once again", drawing attention "to the very substantial deficit that exists nationally in the provision of facilities for the secure accommodation of children". Read the judgement in full here: RE X (Secure Accommodation: Lack of Provision) [2023] EWHC 129 (Fam).

Message from the President of the Family Division: Reporting Pilot in the Family Court

Courts and Tribunals Judiciary | 27 January 2023

On Monday 30 January 2023, the Transparency Implementation Group Reporting Pilot will launch in Cardiff, Leeds and Carlisle. The aim of the pilot is to introduce a presumption that accredited media and legal bloggers may report on what they see and hear during family court cases, subject to strict rules of anonymity.

Council "had power to indemnify" director of public health in legal claim against blogger, external auditors conclude

Local Government Lawyer | 26 January 2023

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council had the power to indemnify its Director of Public Health in a legal battle with a blogger, but legal advice should be sought first should any similar situation arise.

Those are among findings in an updated audit report by Grant Thornton that arose from complaints by the blogger, Julian Saunders, that Sandwell should not have met the £96,332  plus VAT costs of the director’s legal action, which the blogger won when Sandwell’s claim was struck out.

Man with incurable lung disease he claims was caused by mould in his flat to take local authority to court

Local Government Lawyer | 26 January 2023

A tenant, who suffers from an incurable lung disease he says was caused by black mould in his flat, is taking legal action against Hackney Council, it has been reported.

Supreme Court agrees to hear housing case over failure to provide suitable accommodation, mandatory relief and budgetary constraints

Local Government Lawyer | 26 January 2023

The Supreme Court has granted the London Borough of Croydon permission to appeal in a dispute over mandatory relief in cases where councils have failed to provide suitable accommodation for a person owed the main housing duty.

Data governance panel formed to improve use of court and tribunals data

HM Courts & Tribunals Service | 24 January 2023

From January 2023, a senior data governance panel has been formed. This represents a commitment by the Lord ChancellorLord Chief Justice, and Senior President of the Tribunals to maximise the benefits in the use of data created in the justice system of England and Wales.

Four councils threaten action to examine ‘legal basis’ of ULEZ expansion decision by London Mayor

Local Government Lawyer | 20 January 2023

Four London boroughs – Bromley, Bexley, Harrow and Hillingdon – have sent a pre-action protocol letter to the Mayor of London’s office and Transport for London (TfL) seeking further information on the lawfulness of the decision to expand London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

Dartmoor wild camping agreement reached

BBC News | 19 January 2023

Landowners have agreed to let people "wild camp" on most of Dartmoor without permission, days after the High Court placed restrictions on the practice. Read the High Court’s judgement in full here:  Darwall & Anor v Dartmoor National Park Authority [2023] EWHC 35 (Ch).

Court of Appeal confirms s20 voluntary accommodation agreements can be used for settled long-term placements

Local Government Lawyer | 18 January 2023

The Court of appeal has allowed two appeals which concerned the interplay between care orders and the voluntary accommodation of children under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

London borough successfully defends judicial review claim as judge considers interaction between local authority obligations under Care Act 2014 and Housing Act 1996

Local Government Lawyer | 16 January 2023

A High Court judge has dismissed a judicial review claim over the London Borough of Ealing’s decision to withdraw its funding of the claimant’s temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. The application concerned the interaction between the local authority’s obligations under the Care Act 2014 and its obligations under the Housing Act 1996.

In Campbell, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Ealing [2023] EWHC, Judge O'Connor said the essence of the claimant’s case was that he has, “at all material times, had a need for care and support under the Care Act, which requires the provision of accommodation for its effective delivery”.

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Resources Library

All Bevan Brittan articles and news

Independent review of integrated care systems

Protect Duty for public places

The Court of Appeal addresses the validity of interim payments for sub-contractors

Onsite Insights – 5 years post Grenfell – what have we learnt and are high-rise residential buildings now safe? 

Somerset regeneration project welcomes new tenants

Bevan Brittan advise on West Oxfordshire District Council’s shopping centre purchase

Bevan Brittan advises Manchester City Council on tech hub deal

Bevan Brittan’s pro bono support allows rewilding charity Heal to embark on its first nature reserve in England


Have you registered for…

2 March
When to make an application to the Court of Protection?

23 March
In discussion: the future of anonymity in health and social care cases

On Demand

Sharing P’s information and the participation of others in Court of Protection proceedings

Civil Matters involving Vulnerable Adults: Capacity Considerations

All forthcoming webinars

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