LA Spotlight

The Great Resource Problem

Whether in private practice or working in-house in local government, the current difficulty with recruiting is pervasive.

So, for the majority of us who are not able to follow the eye-watering salary increases of the City, from the likes of Magic Circle and US firms, how do we attract and retain new talent?

Well, the answer, in part, is about looking at the wider benefits of your organisation and making sure potential candidates know about them. What might those wider benefits be?

  1. What is your organisation’s approach to wellbeing, diversity and inclusion (D&I) and community engagement? There is a lot of evidence that this area is rapidly increasing in importance to those career shopping, and perhaps particularly so for the younger generations that are joining the workforce. Wellbeing and D&I in particular, have seen an explosion in interest and focus over the last five years – many candidates will expect to understand your offerings in these areas and check whether they match their own ambitions. 
  2. Do you have a flexible working policy and/or a more novel approach to working hours (time in lieu, hybrid working, four day working week, just simply shorter hours/lower fixed hour expectations?). Working to live, rather than living to work, is becoming increasingly vogue and therefore attractive.  With signs that the lockdown approach to hybrid working is slowly beginning to be eroded by many of the bigger law firms (who are demanding more and more time back in the office), those organisations that can offer increased flexibility are making themselves more attractive to a large chunk of the working population.
  3. What is your approach to career development and advancement? Increasingly the ability to develop (and, importantly, clearly articulated plans, including specific objectives and timescales) is near the top of the list for potential candidates. It is no longer good enough to offer just the particular role you have in mind – you need to be clear on career development and show candidates how you mean to invest in their future.
  4. What is the ambition of your organisation or the team you are recruiting for? People often want to be ‘part of something’ and if you can articulate your ambition, and why that is something potential candidates should get excited by, then you significantly elevate your offer. A mere ‘cog in to the machine’ role is no longer seen as an attractive offer by many, no matter what the salary.

Once you have considered what your unique offering is, based upon the factors above and any others you think relevant, make sure this is coherently communicated in your job advertisement, to any recruitment agents and during interviews with candidates. People need to feel enthused about the role they are considering taking on and a strict focus on the role description and salary is no longer likely to be enough to convince candidates you are the right place for them to land. It should be so obvious as to go without saying, but remember that interviews are as much about the candidates interviewing you/your organisation as they are about you checking their suitability for the role. Be friendly, be positive, be engaging and sell the opportunity!

As those of us involved in the recruitment process are painfully awareness, there is no panacea to solve the recruitment process, but with a more purposeful focus on the unique qualities of your organisation and its ambitions, the specific opportunities the role presents for the successful candidate (and making sure these elements are clearly articulated during the process), you give yourself the best possible chance of securing that most precious of things – a new, engaged and positive team member.

Good hunting! 


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Net Zero

Business rates heat network relief in 2023/24

On 21 February 2023, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published guidance for local authorities in administering the Business Rates Heat Networks Relief for the upcoming financial year.

The relief for financial year 2023/24 (similarly to the approach adopted in 2022/23) will be delivered using the local government discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

The Government intends to bring forward legislation to provide for mandatory relief when Parliamentary time allows. Until that legislation is in force, it will be for local authorities to adopt a local scheme and to determine in each individual case when, having regard to the guidance, to grant relief under section 47. Authorities can claim reimbursement from central government for the costs of any relief granted that falls within the scope of the guidance. 

To be eligible to benefit from the relief:

  • a property must be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of a heat network, and
  • the heat over the next 12 months must be expected to be generated from a low carbon source.

If a property is eligible, relief is available at 100% of the chargeable amount for the property for any day on which the eligibility criteria are met. 

Local authorities should note that the relief is subject to the new UK Subsidy Control regime which commenced in January this year.

If you would like to discuss the heat network relief or the Subsidy Control implications, please get in touch with one of our Energy and commercial specialists Nadeem Arshad or Nathan Bradberry.

Publications & Guidance

Decarbonising the power sector

National Audit Office | 1 March 2023

This report sets out the main challenges that DESNZ faces to decarbonise power. We have assessed the progress DESNZ has made since it set the ambition to decarbonise power by 2035 and examined how well it is set up to oversee future progress. The report uses offshore wind and nuclear power as examples of zero and low-carbon generation to illustrate some of our points.

Embrace local solutions to meet UK net-zero targets, urge the APPG on the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal Group | 27 February 2023

The UK will need to embrace innovative, community-based solutions to environmental and energy problems if it is to have any hope of meeting looming net-zero deadlines, a cross-party group of MPs and peers has recommended.

A report by the all-party group on a green new deal argues for a combination of robust, top-down policies on green issues including localised power generation, food and transport schemes. Recommendations include a mortgage penalty for landlords who let energy-inefficient homes, and also real community decision-making, notably on power schemes.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is failing to deliver, says Lords committee

UK Parliament | 22 February 2023

In a letter sent to Lord Callanan, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero on Wednesday 22 February, the Committee warns that if the current take-up rate continues, only half of the allocated budget will be used to help households switch to low-carbon heating systems and a healthy market of installers and manufacturers will not be in place in time to implement low-carbon heating policy measures smoothly. Therefore, the Government’s 2028 target of 600,000 installations per year is very unlikely to be met.

Electric vehicles and infrastructure

House of Commons Library | 21 February 2023

This briefing paper provides an overview of the transition to zero emission vehicles, including the policies and investments the Government is using to support this transition and some of the key challenges ahead.

Air Quality: Revised UK National Air Pollution Control Programme

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 9 February 2023

The National Air Pollution Control Programme (NAPCP) sets out measures and analysis for how emission reduction commitments can be met across the UK.

Electricity Market Report 2023 – Analysis

International Energy Agency | February 2023

The International Energy Agency’s Electricity Market Report 2023 offers a deep analysis of recent policies, trends and market developments. It also provides forecasts through 2025 for electricity demand, supply and CO2 emissions – with a detailed study of the evolving generation mix. This year’s report contains a comprehensive analysis of developments in Europe, which faced a variety of energy crises in 2022. The Asia Pacific region also receives special focus, with its fast-growing electricity demand and accelerating clean energy deployment.


A case for reducing highway construction in urban extensions

Local Government Association | 6 March 2023

How can we avoid building roads in Bradford to 'unlock' new development? When creating a masterplan and vision for urban extensions, potential for sustainable transport mode share is often squandered by the classic predict and provide process.

Decarbonising rural transport

Local Government Association | 6 March 2023

Find out how officers in Cambridgeshire are exploring the issues affecting and influencing rural transport in relation to decarbonisation.

Reflections from an Upper Tier Authority - How do we frame the benefits of road space reallocation in both rural and urban areas?

Local Government Association | 6 March 2023

This reflective piece discusses the experience of an upper tier authority officer when trying to approach road space reallocation in rural and urban locations.

South Derbyshire's Hydrogen Innovation Project

Local Government Association | 3 March 2023

This case study focuses on using the action learning process with the LGA to develop a community communication programme that reassures the local community that using hydrogen as a low carbon fuel for transport is safe.

Reducing carbon across Tees Valley

Local Government Association | 3 March 2023

There are several schemes aiming to reduce carbon across the Tees Valley, however, the schemes are competing for priority use of existing road space. Using Yarm Road in Darlington as a specific example this article considers the competing priorities for the road space, the stakeholders involved with their own preferences/agendas and the economic impacts of prioritising decarbonisation.

Planning Court to hear challenge of ministerial approval of oil and gas well near Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Local Government Lawyer | 3 March 2023

The Planning Court has agreed to hear a statutory review challenge of the Secretary of State of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove's decision to grant planning permission for an exploratory oil and gas well bordering an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Wiltshire Council's Action Learning Set output

Local Government Association | 3 March 2023

Core Policy 61 (CP61) ‘Transport and New Development’ in the adopted Wiltshire Core Strategy includes that in determining planning applications, consideration must be given to the needs of all transport users according to an identified user hierarchy.

South Derbyshire's Hydrogen Innovation Project

Local Government Association | 3 March 2023

This case study focuses on using the action learning process with the LGA to develop a community communication programme that reassures the local community that using hydrogen as a low carbon fuel for transport is safe.

Replacement of council fleet vehicles with zero emission versions

Local Government Association | 2 March 2023

The following is an anonymous blog on how a council is considering and planning the replacement of council fleet vehicles to work toward net zero.

£14m cash boost to accelerate rollout of low carbon heating

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 2 March 2023

More than £14m is being made available to accelerate the installation of heat pumps and heat networks across the country, as a new scheme launches to train thousands of installers.

The introduction of car clubs into South Warwickshire

Local Government Association | 2 March 2023

South Warwickshire is a large geographical area with isolated centres of population but with large rural areas and limited public transport options.

North York Moors National Park Action Plan

Local Government Association | 2 March 2023

Scarborough Borough Council have shared a project report that builds in key learning from the LRAP training programme that aims to outline prioritised retrofit activities, locations, funding options, and community engagements, and identify actions that need to be taken in partnership with National Park Authorities.

Decarbonising Derbyshire’s Housing

Local Government Association | 2 March 2023

Support and funding have been available in Derbyshire to retrofit homes in the social housing and private rented sector, and to homeowners in fuel poverty through several funding mechanisms including the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and the Sustainable Warmth Competition.

Northumberland County Council's retrofit action plan checklist

Local Government Association | 1 March 2023

Northumberland County Council have drafted a retrofit action plan based on their learnings from the LGA Local Retrofit Action Planning (LRAP) training programme.

Where to start on retrofit: A blog on the experiences of working at a County Council…

Local Government Association | 1 March 2023

This blog covers some of a County Council's experiences, thoughts, and tips from their early stages of trying to tackle retrofit at a county-wide level and develop an action plan for the whole county.

Creating a 'green team' to engage with communities and businesses in Basingstoke and Deane

Local Government Association | 1 March 2023

Shaped through public consultation and adopted in March 2021, the Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy sets out how the council leads by example, enables and inspires change, and challenges and works with partners, businesses, communities and others to cut emissions across Basingstoke and Deane.

The Stockport Schools Climate Assembly

UK100 | 27 February 2023

The Stockport Schools Climate Assembly facilitated by Stockport Council is a space for young people to learn about, propose, debate and vote on climate action ideas. The project sets out to give a platform to young people’s voices while ensuring we as a council listen and take responsibility to act on what they tell us. In June 2022, young people proposed and voted to make eco-friendly period products more affordable and accessible in schools. As a direct result, we are now offering training and grants to make that happen.

Our City, Our World – sustainability, climate change and environmental education in Brighton & Hove schools

Local Government Association | 23 February 2023

Schools work to integrate sustainability into all areas of their curriculum, develop processes to support net zero, plan for outdoor learning and nature connection and provide opportunities for young people, their families and communities to tackle climate action.

Enfield Council using technology to measure climate ambitions and strategies

Local Government Association | 23 February 2023

London Borough of Enfield partnered with digital technology company OnePlanet to collaborate and develop the company’s existing sustainability platform to support the council to achieve their climate action targets.

Boilers on Prescription in Worcestershire County Council

Local Government Association | 23 February 2023

Working in partnership, Worcestershire County Council, Warwickshire County Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council collaborated on a heating system replacement programme following a successful bid for £325,000 from National Energy Action’s Warm and Healthy Homes Fund.

Worcestershire’s Decarbonisation Portal

Local Government Association | 23 February 2023

Worcestershire County Council declared a climate emergency in July 2021. Under the council’s Sustainability Policy, the council has committed to not only reducing their own operational carbon footprint but also to support businesses and other Worcestershire organisations to improve their environmental performance too.

Government issues response to consultation on biodiversity net gain regulations and implementation

Local Government Lawyer | 23 February 2023

Local planning authorities will get an extra £16.71m from the Government to cope with additional burdens that result from the biodiversity net gain regulations.

This is in addition to the £4.18m already provided last year and has been allocated after responses to a consultation showed “concerns remain in relation to local authority capacity”, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

ULEZ expansion in London could be “blocked” by Downing Street amid claims Mayor may have exceeded powers: report

Local Government Lawyer | 20 February 2023

London MPs have asked the Secretary of State for Transport to look at whether the Mayor of London’s transport strategy “conflicts with the national strategy”.

As of August 2023, drivers of cars that do not meet the emissions standards will have to pay £12.50 a day to enter the Greater London Authority boundary, following Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Whitehall officials are examining whether the Mayor has exceeded his powers under the Greater London Authority (GLA) Act of 1999.

Number of green jobs in UK reached record high in 2021

edie | 16 February 2023

The number of UK-based jobs in low-carbon and renewable energy sectors in 2021 was almost 40,000 higher than in 2020, official new figures show. But the Government is still not on track to deliver its flagship pledge of two million green jobs by 2030.

Pioneering nature projects launched to test carbon capture methods in fight against climate change

Natural England | 11 February 2023

Six pioneering nature projects across England receive major funding award to trial the most effective ways to capture carbon and mitigate the impacts of climate change, Natural England has announced.

Retrofit action planning in Oxfordshire

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

On 10 January 2023, Oxfordshire County Council in partnership with the Low Carbon Hub, brought together a range of stakeholders including the District Councils, organisations with a strategic role in transforming domestic retrofit provision in Oxfordshire and other invited experts, for a retrofit roundtable event.

Retrofit Action Planning in Luton

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

Find a deep dive into Luton Council’s reflections from the action planning process and main aspects to consider when tackling the retrofitting agenda in your area.

Bolsover's Low Carbon Housing Action Plan

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

From 2021, Bolsover District Council (BDC) have installed External Wall Insulation (EWI) to their social housing. (LAD1b – EWI to 81 properties, and LAD2 - EWI to 54 properties). These installations are future proofed to enable future funding to be accessed for further measures.

Developing a placed based approach to retrofit in Coventry

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

Coventry City Council are developing proposals for several place-based approaches to retrofit, with the aim of significantly increasing uptake within a whole street & neighbourhood.

Retrofit action planning in Ashfield

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

Ashfield District Council recognises the importance of supporting the decarbonisation of the whole Ashfield District, in line with the UK Government targets of achieving net-zero by 2050 and the international target of keeping global temperature rise well below 2ºC.

Building a business case for an able-to-pay retrofit scheme

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

In 2019, Hampshire County Council formed a commission of inquiry to identify the major drivers of change in Hampshire to 2050. The commission found that climate change was the single biggest driver, and a climate emergency was declared.

Kingston’s Green Home Show

Local Government Association | 9 February 2023

Kingston Council is organising a Green Home Show at a local school in Kingston, which will bring together local retrofit educators, suppliers and residents who are interested in retrofitting their own property, are curious about retrofit or would like to know more about a career in a related sector.

£10.7 million in funding for local authorities to improve air quality

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 9 February 2023

Local authorities across England have been granted almost £11m in the latest round of funding for projects that will improve air quality.

The money, from the Government’s annual Air Quality Grant, helps councils develop and implement measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health.

Thousands of trees to be planted in communities in boost to nature, health and wellbeing

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

Hundreds of thousands of trees will be planted in communities across England after two major funding schemes reopened for applications on 8 February.

Over £14m will be allocated to successful applicants across both funds, which will support tree planting efforts and contribute to Government commitments to treble tree-planting rates across England by the end of this Parliament, planting 30,000 hectares of trees across the UK per year to meet net zero ambitions.

Mayor announces plans for new buildings to improve London air quality

London City Hall | 8 February 2023

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently announced pioneering new rules to ensure that major new developments in the city help to clean up the capital’s air.

£32m boost to upgrade existing heat networks and reduce energy costs

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 7 February 2023

Old and inefficient heat networks will be given a £32m cash injection to produce cheaper energy and reduce carbon emissions for thousands of homes across England and Wales.

Through the newly launched Heat Network Efficiency Scheme, out of date equipment will be upgraded with energy efficient alternatives such as replacement pumps, pipe insulation and underfloor heating controls. Cutting-edge data monitoring systems will also be introduced to check systems are performing correctly.

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Delivering Value

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

The Cabinet Office has published PPN 03/23 updating the SQ and accompanying statutory guidance. All contracting authorities must starting using the new SQ by 1 April 2023[1].

What is the SQ?

The SQ was devised in 2016 as a means of standardising the supplier selection process in above threshold procurement processes and introduced the concept of self-certification by suppliers to align with the European Single Procurement Document. PPN 08/2016 contained the standard form SQ which replaced the pre-qualification questionnaire in use at the time, together with statutory guidance on using the form. All contracting authorities had to start using the SQ for above threshold regulated procurements.

The SQ was divided into three parts and the statutory guidance contained further information on use of the SQ including which parts were mandatory and the scope for deviating from standard form questions. It also provided more information on the entities who should provide supplier information (where other companies are being relied on or form part of a bidding group).

What has changed?

The Cabinet Office has taken on board feedback from public sector buyers and suppliers and has updated the statutory guidance to provide greater clarity on:

  • the changes contracting authorities can make to the wording of questions. Questions can be rephrased to fit with e-procurement system styles provided they ask for the same information. The questions marked as mandatory for Part 1 and 2 must not be omitted. The supplier selection questions in Part 3 are for use where relevant and proportionate. Where they are used, they should not be deviated from but where there are deviations these must be reported to domestic-policy-queries@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.
  • what is meant by “relying on another organisation” to meet the selection criteria. This covers a situation where the potential supplier is relying on the technical and professional ability and/or the economic and financial standing of another organisation to meet the selection criteria in Part 3. This could be another member of the supplier’s corporate group, a subcontractor or a bidding / joint venture partner.
  • seeking information from suppliers and/or groups of suppliers. Parts 1 and 2 of the SQ must be completed by all organisations forming part of the potential supplier’s bidding group/consortium (or where another organisation is relied upon as referred to above). The authority can choose whether to accept a composite response to Part 3 or whether each entity needs to complete a separate Part 3.  There is greater clarity and guidance on when authorities may wish to ask for evidence during the procurement process of when a supplier meets selection criteria.
  • selection criteria. Guidance is provided on how authorities decide upon their own selection criteria and scoring system for assessing whether suppliers meet the selection criteria.

The broad structure of the template SQ itself remains unchanged. However there are some tweaks to the terminology to improve clarity and some aspects have been reformatted (for example, the exclusion grounds are now self-declarations rather than yes/no answers). Amendments have also been made to some of the selection questions to align with changes in policy. This includes: 

  • updates to the financial questions and checks
  • the introduction of questions on health and safety and data protection, and
  • for central government contracts, there are updated questions aligning with recent procurement policy notes for example on healthy supply chain management and payment systems (PPN 08/21), carbon reduction (PPN 06/21) and modern slavery risk (PPN 02/23).

What do you need to do?

The updated SQ and guidance is available here.

Authorities need to begin using the new SQ guidance and questions as soon as possible and in any event by 1 April. This is likely to involve some work in ensuring that template documents and e-procurement tools incorporate the changes.

Suppliers need to be aware that changes have been made so that they can ensure that they are in a position to answer the questions being asked of them.

What happens next?

The Procurement Act is due to receive Royal Assent in the coming months and is expected to apply to procurements from early next year. It contains some changes to the mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds set out in Part 2 of the SQ and to the test contracting authorities will use to consider these. There are also new consequences of exclusion from a procurement with the possibility of a debarment investigation being triggered and a supplier being placed on the debarment list.

Our Procurement team have been analysing these changes and looking at the steps suppliers can take to prepare. You can read our article on the changes here.

 [1]              For works contracts, authorities should use the Common Assessment Standard or PAS91.

Publications & Guidance

Spring Budget 2023

HM Treasury | 15 March 2023

The Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Spring Budget to Parliament on Wednesday 15 March 2023. For LGA’s reaction, please see: LGA statement on Budget 2023.

Public health grants to local authorities: 2023 to 2024

Department of Health and Social Care | 14 March 2023

Local authorities (upper tier and unitary) are responsible for improving the health of their local population and reducing health inequalities.

In 2023 to 2024 the total public health grant to local authorities will be £3.529bn. The grant will be ring-fenced for use on public health functions. The local authority circular sets out the allocations and conditions for using the grant.

State of Local Government Finance 2023

Local Government Information Unit | 7 March 2023

New research from the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) reveals more than half of councils will be cutting spending on services, increasing commercial investments, or spending reserves to make ends meet in the year ahead. The 2023 State of Local Government Finance report found that these desperate measures are being taken on top of the more than 90% of councils that would also be increasing council tax or increasing fees or charges.

Joint capital resource use plans: directions to ICBs and NHS trusts

Department of Health and Social Care | 6 March 2023

This letter from Lord Markham sets out new obligations under the Health and Care Act 2022 for integrated care boards, their partner NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts.

Transformational reform begins for children and young people with SEND

Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care | 2 March 2023

Children and young people across England with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or in alternative provision (AP) will get high-quality, early support wherever they live in the country.

The SEND and AP improvement plan investment in training for thousands of workers so children can get the help they need earlier, alongside thousands of additional specialist school places for those with the greatest needs – as 33 new special free schools are approved to be built. For LGA’s response, please see: SEND measures ‘do not address cost and demand issues’– LGA on Government’s Improvement Plan.

Social care 360

The King’s Fund | 2 March 2023

The latest 360 review from The King’s Fund outlines and analyses 12 key trends in adult social care in England over recent years. Using a variety of publicly-available data, it provides a uniquely rounded – ‘360 degree’ – view of the sector.

Moving through the gears of local government finance

Localis | 2 March 2023

Independent think-tank Localis has issued a collection of essays from leading local political experts setting out a vision for reform of local government finance over the next political cycle.

Entitled ‘Moving through the gears – Where will local government finance be in 2030?’ the collection includes contributions from across the local government family, including the chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr James Jamieson, Abdool Kara, executive director of the National Audit Office in a personal capacity and CIPFA’s Iain Murray outlining the role of professional ingenuity to meet future challenges.

Slough Borough Council: Exceptional Financial Support request 2023-24

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 2 March 2023

Letter to Slough Borough Council to communicate the government’s proposed response to the council’s request for Exceptional Financial Support for 2023-24.

Thurrock Council: Exceptional Financial Support request 2023-24

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 2 March 2023

Letter to Thurrock Council to communicate the government’s proposed response to the council’s request for Exceptional Financial Support for 2022-23 and 2023-24.

Energy bill support schemes: next steps - letter to local authorities

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 1 March 2023

Letter from Amanda Solloway MP, Minister for Energy Consumers and Affordability, to local authorities on the next steps for delivering energy bills support to households.

First year of NHS England’s three-year recovery programme already falling short

UK Parliament | 1 March 2023

A report by the Public Accounts Committee says cancer waiting times are at their worst recorded level and NHS England will not meet its first cancer recovery target. Though the first target for elective care was to eliminate two-year waits by July 2022, in August 2022 there were 2,600 patients who had been waiting more than two years, and a record seven million people on waiting lists in total.

System for challenging social care decisions ‘failing those who need it’

Equality and Human Rights Commission | 28 February 2023

Adults receiving social care in England and Wales are being failed if they try to challenge decisions made by local authorities, according to an inquiry conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Must Know: Children's services guide to effective cross- council working

Local Government Association | 24 February 2023

This guidance has been developed for each of the following areas: finance, human resources (HR), information technology (IT) and legal. The intention is to further support and strengthen the development of a strong corporate and whole council approach to delivering effective services for children.

Unacceptable, unnecessary harm to vulnerable adolescents being failed by maze of services

UK Parliament | 22 February 2023

The estimated lifetime cost of adverse outcomes for all children who have ever needed a social worker is £23bn every year. A report published by the Public Accounts Committee says the social and personal costs of harm and adverse outcomes to vulnerable adolescents who are being failed by the system are unacceptably and unnecessarily high.

Why can’t I get care? - Older people's experiences of care and support

Age UK | 16 February 2023

At Age UK “why can’t I get care?” is a question we get asked a lot. This short report aims to explain the answer, drawing on older people’s experiences, as well as on what we know about how the social care system is supposed to work, and how it actually works in cash-strapped 2022.

Local government finance capacity and capability study | Local Government Association

Local Government Association | 15 February 2023

As part of our sector support programme funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), we commissioned Local Partnerships to undertake research into capacity and capability in local government finance. Our aim is that this report will support councils in understanding the pressures and challenges finance teams are facing, and the actions they can take.

Integrated care systems: guidance

NHS England | 15 February 2023

NHS England has published a collection of documents that outline how NHS England will ask leaders and organisations to operate with their partners in integrated care systems. The collection also provides guidance on what the employment commitment is, its application in practice and how it affects people.

Social care charging for local authorities: 2023 to 2024

Department of Health and Social Care | 9 February 2023

Information for local authorities on charging for care and support.

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 report. The case has not been made for what improvements Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) will bring to patients, and by when.

Energy bills support

National Audit Office | 7 February 2023

This report provides the basis for early Parliamentary scrutiny of how BEIS has designed and implemented the energy bills support and the potential costs. We have not concluded on the value for money of the schemes. We expect to revisit performance of these schemes in later reports once more evidence is available about the costs and benefits.

This report is in three parts:

  • Part One sets out how the energy bill support works and how much BEIS expects it to cost.
  • Part Two sets out how BEIS implemented these schemes quickly, to make sure households and businesses were able to receive support in time for this winter.
  • Part Three identifies the risks that BEIS must now manage, how it plans to manage them and the future of the schemes.


Counties see the largest number of sponsored Ukrainian refugees settle, new report released on the anniversary of the Homes for Ukraine programme reveals

County Councils Network | 14 March 2023

Rural and county areas have seen the largest number of sponsored Ukrainians resettle in England, new data released on the 12-month anniversary of the Homes for Ukraine programme reveals.

Funding cliff edge risks school nurse numbers being slashed and sexual health clinic closures

NHS Confederation | 9 March 2023

NHS leaders warn of a funding cliff edge over the continued uncertainty in how the salaries of staff providing vital community services will be funded. To read LGA’s reaction, please see: Funding cliff edge risks school nurse numbers being slashed and sexual health clinic closures

EXCLUSIVE: Ofsted offers to inspect UASC hotels

The MJ | 9 March 2023

Watchdog Ofsted this week offered to inspect hotels being used to house unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) amid snowballing concern over their condition and safeguarding record.

Unions deride local government pay offer

Public Finance | 8 March 2023

Trade unions have urged their local government members to reject the proposed pay offer, which they said represents a real-terms pay cut of up to 10%.

‘When you can't fund statutory services leisure is not at the top of many priority lists’

Local Government Chronicle | 8 March 2023

It is getting harder to run leisure services, LGC looks at the issues.

Integrated care boards told to cut running costs by 30%

Local Government Chronicle | 3 March 2023

Integrated care boards have been told to cut their running costs — most of which is made up of their staff — by 30%, reports Henry Anderson of the HSJ.

900,000 more households to benefit from £400 of government energy bill support

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero | 27 February 2023

900,000 more households across England, Scotland and Wales will benefit from the government’s £400 help with energy bills, as the online application portal opens.

Survey throws doubt on prompt energy bill help

The MJ | 23 February 2023

Seven in 10 councils do not expect to be able to dole out a key winter energy bill grant until the second half of March.

Exclusive research reveals how residents value their council

District Councils’ Network | 23 February 2023

Exclusive research has revealed unprecedented insight into the value people place on universal local public services and their trust in the councils providing them. The District Councils’ Network (DCN) commissioned the independent analysts BritainThinks to survey people living in the English shires about their attitudes to the local public services in their area.

Leisure centre providers issue 'urgent plea' to prime minister over energy crisis

Local Government Chronicle | 22 February 2023

Over 200 sports and leisure organisations have written to the prime minister with an “urgent plea” for greater support over the “ongoing energy crisis”.

Children's social worker numbers drop for first time since 2017

The MJ | 22 February 2023

The Government has been urged to act after official figures showed the number of children’s social workers has fallen for the first time since 2017.

Half of UK community swimming pools face closure or cuts amid crippling energy costs 

Community Leisure UK | 24 February 2023

Half of the UK’s community swimming pools face closure or service cuts within six months – placing thousands of jobs at risk – unless the Government steps in with urgent financial support to tackle crippling energy bills.

Bed blocking down by just 3% a month on from £250m plan

The MJ | 22 February 2023

The Government’s £250m initiative to speed up hospital discharges reduced the number of bed blockers by less than 3% in its first month.

£842m available to help families in need

Department for Work and Pensions | 21 February 2023

Councils to be allocated money to directly help those most in need with essential food and energy costs until 31 March 2024.

£5.4bn surplus recorded for public finances

The MJ | 21 February 2023

The public finances showed a welcome £5.4bn surplus last month as record self-assessment tax revenues boosted the Treasury’s coffers.

January sees highest level of energy bill support reach vulnerable households

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy | 20 February 2023

A record amount of government support reached some of the country’s most vulnerable households in January, as those on traditional prepayment meters (PPM) redeemed more energy bill support vouchers than at any other point in the scheme so far.

Plans to bolster patient safety and boost support for frontline staff by streamlining the system for healthcare regulators

Department of Health and Social Care | 18 February 2023

The government has reaffirmed its commitment to streamline the system, improve patient safety and expand the role of medical support staff in the NHS to relieve pressure on GPs and improve access to services. A new consultation has been launched seeking views on draft legislation to provide the General Medical Council (GMC) with powers to regulate anaesthesia associates and physician associates for the first time.

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Place & Growth

Dealing with Inflation in Construction Contracts

We have seen inflation have an unprecedented effect on the construction industry over the last 18 months.

External global factors are impacting construction projects by curtailing the supply of goods and materials and increasing costs. In addition, the legislation changing the use of red diesel on projects is making work more costly. While we cannot control the inflation impact, there are some options which may help mitigate the effects of inflation when drafting construction contracts:

Provisional sums: These can be included in contracts to cover the price increases. Typically, they are included in the contract specification as an estimate of the likely cost of works that either cannot be sufficiently defined at the time of contracting, or works that the employer may choose not to undertake.

They can be drafted very precisely to achieve exactly what the parties require. Consideration to be given to: their value when entering the contract; any contingency in budgets to allow for increases to provisional sums and any approvals needed from funders; the method for instructing or allowing a change to provisional sums; their impact on the programme.

Fluctuation provisions: Contracts can include these compensatory clauses to allow the contract price to be adjusted to reflect inflation through the contract period. The benefits of a fluctuation provision is that drafting can be tailored for the circumstances.  This does not necessarily mean limitless employer cost exposure or unrestricted contractor recovery.

Cost Plus/Target Cost Contracts: Cost Plus is where the contractor is reimbursed for the actual costs incurred for the work done. However, the risk of inflation is then wholly with the developer/Employer. Target Cost, therefore may be a compromise route but the decision as to whether to include the inflation provisions will still be a matter to be agreed between the parties.

Bespoke drafting: Tailoring a clause to specifically suit the parties’ requirements e.g. dealing with the price increase in steel as a Relevant Matter (JCT).

Security: Given the increased possibility of contractors going into liquidation which poses particular risks for employers, consideration should be given to additional security to negate such risks, e.g. performance bonds, parent company guarantees and vesting certificates.

Other considerations for developers:

  • Consider sharing the risk of inflation under the contract
  • Ensure there are sufficient insurance levels in place
  • Consider supply chain challenges and more realistic timelines and particularly that a subcontractor insolvency may then push the contractor into insolvency also
  • Reassess material procurement procedures e.g. early stockpiling
  • Be willing to negotiate higher fees with contractors if it results in securing performance bonds
  • Perform credit reference checks on all contractors
  • Remember that lowest price does not always equate to best value.

For more information please contact: Niamh Batterton or Sarah Wilson in the construction team.

Publications & Guidance

Levelling Up: Devolve powers and cut costly bids to realise ambitions, councils say

Local Government Association | 15 March 2023

Costly competitions between councils vying for vital funding pots should be replaced to help realise the Government’s levelling up agenda, according to a new report.

Levelling Up Committee writes to Government on Treasury ‘ban’ on levelling-up capital spending

UK Parliament | 14 March 2023

Clive Betts, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee has written to Levelling-Up Minister, Dehenna Davison MP, to raise concerns on the Treasury’s involvement in signing off capital spend at the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities.

Local Plans: letter from the Chief Planner to the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 8 March 2023

The Chief Planner has written to the Planning Inspectorate to remove temporary arrangements for local plan examinations introduced in July 2022.

RSH reports on social housing sector’s 2022 value for money metrics

Regulator of Social Housing | 7 March 2023

The Regulator of Social Housing has published its ‘Value for money metrics and reporting 2022’. The report highlights the importance of social housing providers delivering value for money, by making the best use of their resources to achieve their objectives. This underpins the provision of good quality homes and services, as well as the delivery of new homes.

Homes for Ukraine: emails to guests and hosts

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 1 March 2023

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities Michael Gove has written to guests and hosts on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Councils raise concerns that funding for infrastructure in county areas could be reduced under new planning reforms

County Councils Network | 28 February 2023

England’s largest councils have raised concerns that spending on infrastructure such as roads, schools, and medical centres could be reduced in the coming years if government reforms to developer contributions are implemented.

The warning comes in a new report from Pragmatix Advisory and the County Councils Network (CCN), which argues that the government’s forthcoming Infrastructure Levy, set to replace the existing developer contributions system, could be a ‘jack of all trades’, with little left over for infrastructure.

Research into the right to buy within the Housing Revenue Account

Local Government Association | 28 February 2023

This report addresses the work related to the Right to Buy in the HRA, carried out during the period from August to December 2022 based on the construction of a national model covering household income distribution, affordability, sales, receipts and discounts and taking into account the views and feedback from a series of participant local authorities.

Research into income and rents within the Housing Revenue Account

Local Government Association | 28 February 2023

This report addresses the work related to income and rents, including construction of a national financial model which enables a projection of expenditure and income, and engagement with local authorities to gain feedback on local experiences.

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

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 28 February 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.

Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [HL] 2022-23: Progress of the Bill

House of Commons Library | 24 February 2023

This briefing provides an overview of the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill and summarises its passage through Parliament prior to Report stage in the House of Commons, which is scheduled for 1 March 2023.

Annual report 2021-22 published

Housing Ombudsman Service | 23 February 2023

The Housing Ombudsman made 4,569 orders and recommendations to put things right and improve residents’ lives in 2021-22, states its Annual Report and Accounts.

The report shows an unprecedented increase in complaints and enquiries received by the service at 26,771 up from 16,337 in 2020-21. The volume of requests for formal investigations increased by nearly 80% compared to the prior year and the total volume of enquiries and complaints closed by the service increased by 64%.

Cross-government plan to speed up delivery of major infrastructure projects

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 23 February 2023

Major infrastructure projects such as new transport links, offshore wind farms and waste water management facilities will be delivered faster under a new action plan published by the government.

Measures set out in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) action plan will streamline the planning process for large-scale infrastructure projects, speeding up building to support economic growth, improve connectivity across the country, bolster energy security for the future and deliver Net Zero.

Building Smart Communities: making a success of local government digitalisation in England

Vodafone | 22 February 2023

Fully digitalising local government offers a major opportunity: better services, delivered more efficiently, in ways tailored to the needs of residents. Digitalisation can also lower costs, in turn freeing up resources and providing more flexibility for council leaders. To understand the landscape of digitalisation in English councils, we interviewed several chief executives and digital leaders over a three-month period in early 2022. We wanted to understand from stakeholders themselves what the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation were. To read the press release, see here: How local governments can use tech to build better communities

New developments to deliver for people and nature

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 21 February 2023

New housing, commercial and infrastructure developments are set to be “nature positive” from November onwards, the government has announced with the plans backed by £16m on of funding for Local Planning Authorities and guidance to support the new approach.

Levelling Up Locally inquiry report

Local Government Association | 20 February 2023

Over the past year the LGA has run a levelling up locally inquiry into how the Government’s levelling up agenda might better strengthen local communities. Through five roundtable discussions, commissioned research and analysis of demographic trends, the inquiry aims to broaden the conversation around levelling up.

Blueprint for truly affordable homes could slash 1.2 million council waiting lists

Localis | 20 February 2023

The Housing Finance Institute (HFI) and Localis have published a 30-page blueprint designed to stimulate a new generation of council homes.

‘Public Rental Homes – fresh perspectives’ provides a solution to the challenge that just 6,000 of the 52,000 new homes listed as ‘affordable’ in 2020/21 by local councils were truly affordable by 1.2 million households on waiting lists.

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

House of Commons Library | 16 February 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.

Health inequalities: Cold or damp homes

House of Commons Library | 16 February 2023

Cold or damp homes can exacerbate existing health inequalities. This briefing discusses the prevalence, cause, and health impacts of cold or damp homes in the UK, with a focus on England.

Guidance for temporary alcohol licensing provisions in the Business and Planning Act

Home Office | 15 February 2023

This guidance relates to the alcohol licensing provisions in the Business and Planning Act 2020 only.

The role of councils in tackling digital exclusion

Local Government Association | 13 February 2023

The Local Government Association commissioned DMS Research & Consulting to explore the links between various types of disadvantage and the availability and usage of digital infrastructure, and to consider the role of councils in tackling digital exclusion.

Digital switchover telecare checklist for councils

Local Government Association | 10 February 2023

An overview of some of the key tasks organisations responsible for commissioning or providing telecare should complete when assessing the impact of the digital telephony shift on their service.


Budget 2023: LEPs to be scrapped

The MJ | 15 March 2023

Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) are to be effectively abolished within a year, chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in the Budget.

Developers sign Gove’s building safety contract

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 14 March 2023

Thirty-nine of the country’s biggest developers have signed the contract providing relief for thousands of leaseholders and tenants

Councils face difficult choices over road maintenance schemes next year as inflation adds £500m to costs

County Councils Network | 10 March 2023

A new survey from the County Councils Network (CCN) finds that 85% of its local authorities plan to reduce roads maintenance next year due to rising costs, whilst scrapping or reviewing major highways projects.

£42m to support delivery of building safety reforms

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 9 March 2023

More than £42m over the next three years will support the delivery of tough new standards for managing building safety for higher-risk buildings brought in by the landmark Building Safety Act, the Government has announced.

LGA analysis: Government spends 31 times more per mile on maintaining motorways than on repairing local potholes

Local Government Association | 9 March 2023

The Government spent 31 times more per mile maintaining motorways and A roads last year than they did on funding councils to repair crumbling local roads.

Over 100,000 more vulnerable and disadvantaged families to receive support as flagship government scheme marks 10 years

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 8 March 2023

Up to £233.5m allocated to the Supporting Families programme for 2023/24, in addition to the £1.9bn allocated over the past 10 years. For more information about the funding made available per local authority, please see: Supporting Families Programme: funding allocations by local authority area 2023-2024.

Social tenants empowered to make complaints with flagship government campaign launch

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 6 March 2023

‘Make Things Right’ campaign encourages residents to complain to their landlord before escalating to the Housing Ombudsman.

Digital switchover alert as delays could put lives at risk and stifle growth, councils warn

Local Government Association | 4 March 2023

Vital telecare equipment used by nearly two million older and disabled people, as well as traffic lights and cash machines, could cease to operate unless councils get more support with preparing for the upgrade to next-generation digital networks.

Almost 60,000 homes sold through Right to Buy will not be replaced by 2030

Local Government Association | 2 March 2023

100,000 homes are likely to be sold through the RTB scheme by 2030, with just 43,000 replaced as significant discounts leave councils without funding to replace the much-needed homes on a like-for-like basis.

Homelessness numbers will continue to rise without urgent action – LGA on homelessness statistics

Local Government Association | 28 February 2023

“Councils work incredibly hard to prevent the tragedy of homelessness from happening, as well as supporting those who find themselves affected and are very concerned at statistics, which are from before the worst of the cost of living crisis hit families."

Home building and renting probed to help buyers and tenants

Competition and Markets Authority | 28 February 2023

With widespread concerns about housing availability and costs, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a new phase of work in the housing sector. The CMA is launching a market study into housebuilding, and will start a separate consumer protection project related to rented accommodation.

Rough sleeping numbers up by a quarter

The MJ | 28 February 2023

The number of rough sleepers in England has risen by 26% – the biggest increase in homeless people sleeping on the streets in nearly a decade – in what a homelessness charity has branded a ‘collective failure’.

Increasing planning fees and performance: technical consultation

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 26 February 2023

Consultation on proposals to increase planning fees and to improve capacity, capability and performance within local planning authorities. The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 25 April 2023.

Social housing managers must be qualified under new laws to protect residents

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 26 February 2023

Social housing managers must gain professional qualifications under new rules to protect residents and raise standards in the sector, Housing Secretary Michael Gove announced on 26 February 2023.

£56m of public and industry funding electrifies chargepoint plans across the country

Office for Zero Emission Vehicles | 21 February 2023

New LEVI capability funding also announced to help local authorities plan for new chargepoint infrastructure.

Government rejects levelling up mission on child poverty

The MJ | 21 February 2023

A Lords’ amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill requiring a clear mission on child poverty has been rejected by the Government.

Whitehall engagement varies across departments, review finds

The MJ | 21 February 2023

Government departments that lack regional structures have struggled to engage with place-based initiatives designed to improve service delivery, an ongoing Whitehall review has found.

BPF calls for data-sharing and regulatory certainty to accelerate the decarbonisation of the property industry

British Property Federation | 20 February 2023

The British Property Federation (BPF), in partnership with JLL, has released a report that identifies the key challenges the property sector faces as it decarbonises and provides a series of policy recommendations.

£2 bus fare cap to be extended and bus services protected with new funding

Department for Transport | 17 February 2023

Funding to help passengers save money on fares, get more people on the bus and protect vital bus routes.

£421m to boost drug and alcohol treatment across England

Department of Health and Social Care | 16 February 2023

Local authorities across England to receive funding to combat drug and alcohol misuse, with areas of highest need prioritised.

Thousands of bus routes at risk amid funding uncertainty

Local Government Association | 16 February 2023

An alarming number of cherished bus routes could be lost forever from April without further Government funding support and a long-term plan to keep them running, councils and transport groups are warning.

Frustrated council chiefs await fund details

The MJ | 15 February 2023

Councils have still not been told details of the Household Support Fund in 2023-24 – less than two months before the start of the financial year.

£53m cash boost to improve housing support for drug and alcohol recovery

Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 3 February 2023

28 local authorities across England will receive funds to help people in drug and alcohol treatment.

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Governance & Reorganisation

Modern Slavery – the role of local authorities

Cases of modern slavery continue to hit the headlines. A recent example relates to workers in a Welsh care home who have been identified as potential victims of slavery and trafficking.

The Local Government Association confirms that local authorities have a key role to play in tackling modern slavery, including in identifying and reporting potential victims, supporting victims, community safety services and disruption activities, and ensuring that the supply chains councils procure from are free from modern slavery.

This article considers what modern slavery is and what steps local authorities should be taking to help tackle it.

What is Modern Slavery?

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 created three types of criminal offences, namely 1) slavery or servitude, 2) forced or compulsory labour, and 3) human trafficking and committing an offence with intent to commit human trafficking.

It was introduced to protect people from exploitation and reinforces several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

What duties does the Modern Slavery Act impose on local authorities?

The Modern Slavery Act imposes a duty on specific public authorities, including local authorities, to report any individual encountered that they suspect may be a victim or slavery or human trafficking.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 also contains a requirement for commercial organisations with an annual turnover of £36m or more to publish an annual statement setting out the steps they take to prevent modern slavery in their business and their supply chains. Local authorities are not currently captured by this requirement. Back in September 2020 the Government announced that the Act would be amended to include public bodies which have a budget of £36m or more, including local authorities. This was repeated in the Queen’s speech in May 2022 but this change does not yet appear to have been made. Many local authorities have in fact already published statements in any event, as a matter of good practice and / or as some arguably carry out commercial activities and meet the existing turnover threshold.

Local authorities will also fall within the supply chains of commercial organisations they contract with and so these commercial organisations (if they meet the turnover threshold) will need to publish what steps they take to ensure that modern slavery is prevented within the local authority part of this supply chain. Such statements should also be considered by local authorities when conducting due diligence into commercial organisations they contract with.

Many local authorities have in fact gone further that the legal requirements and have signed the Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern Slavery which commits them to proactively vet their own supply chains to make sure no instances of modern slavery are taking place.

Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains

In February 2023, the Cabinet Office published a Procurement Policy Note (PPN 2/23) which made following existing 2019 guidance ‘Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains’ mandatory for ‘In Scope Organisations’, and which introduced new rules and guidance. The PPN is largely relevant to commercial, procurement and contract management positions and the new rules and guidance apply to existing contracts and new procurement activity from 1 April 2023.

Whilst local authorities are not ‘In Scope Organisations’ (defined as all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies, and NHS bodies), the PPN does state that “Other public sector contracting authorities may wish to apply the approach set out in this PPN” and doing so could help ensure that local authorities have robust due diligence processes for managing supply chain issues. The 2019 Guidance is also supported by the Local Government Association.

What are the Key Changes to the 2019 Guidance?

Key updates include:

  • the guidelines for assessing the risk of modern slavery have been updated to include key sectors of concern such as cotton, PPE and polysilicon
  • organisations will be required to provide supply chain information at the selection stage of new procurements which are highlighted as being a high risk of modern slavery, and
  • the guidance on enhanced due diligence and existing exclusion grounds has been updated.

The PPN is another step in the increased focus on eliminating modern slavery.  Given the large amount of goods and services that local authorities procure and the range of sectors they are involved in, it seems that local authorities have a key role in fighting modern slavery.  

Please contact Louise Mansfield if you require any further information.

Publications & Guidance

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.

Positive Corporate Peer Challenge Report concludes LGA remains “a strong organisation”

Local Government Association | 9 March 2023

The report highlights the important role the LGA has played supporting councils to respond to a number of national crises in recent years, being seen by partners as “constructive”, “helpful”, “valued”, “candid” and “reasonable”. For coverage of the report, please see: LGA peer review urges action on sector-led improvement | Local Government Chronicle

Anonymous electoral registration

House of Commons Library | 7 March 2023

This note outlines the current requirements for anonymous electoral registration

Women in Politics and Public Life

House of Commons Library | 6 March 2023

This briefing includes latest figures on the proportion of women in Parliament and elected bodies across the UK and throughout the world, as well as information on women in UK public life.

Report: key challenges in local audit accounting

Grant Thornton | 6 March 2023

Timely release of audited accounts is vital to public sector governance arrangements. Key stakeholders need the numbers for future budgeting and decision making. Mark Stocks and John Farrar share the findings of our report on the challenges in local audit.

Local audit bolstered with new Memorandum of Understanding

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities | 2 March 2023

The local audit system in England is set to be strengthened as the new responsibilities of the Financial Reporting Council are given the green light.

Local audit is the process whereby a local authority’s accounts are independently verified, so taxpayers can be assured the information provided is reliable, true and fair. By setting new responsibilities for the FRC in this area, the government aims to build a more resilient system that operates effectively so local taxpayers get the transparency and accountability they need. Read the memorandum in full here.

Pre-election period of sensitivity

House of Commons Library | 2 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.

Committee calls in Levelling Up Secretary over Government response to report on governance arrangements for England

UK Parliament | 1 March 2023

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has criticised the Government for a lack of attention and engagement with its recommendations to reform the governance of England.

In its response to the Governing England report, the Government rejects the Committee’s recommendation to set up a cross-party Commission on the governance arrangements for England. The Committee is concerned that the Government’s refusal will mean the issue will “remain a political football”. To read the Committee’s follow up to the Government’s response, please see here.

Reviewing the Code of Conduct for MPs

House of Commons Library | 28 February 2023

A new Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members is effective from 1 March 2023. This briefing outlines how the new Code was developed and agreed.

Correspondence from The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to Lord Evans about CSPL report, ‘Leading in Practice’

Committee on Standards in Public Life | 27 February 2023

Rt Hon. Oliver Dowden CBE MP, The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has written to Lord Evans following the publication of the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, ‘Leading in Practice’.

Police Staff Council England and Wales handbook

Local Government Association | 21 February 2023

The Police Staff Council (PSC) handbook, including June 2022 updates.


Budget 2023: Hunt to boost mayors' financial autonomy

The MJ | 15 March 2023

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced the Government will ‘boost mayors’ financial autonomy’ in his Budget.

Announcing ‘trailblazer deals’ for the West Midlands and Greater Manchester combined authorities that will give them greater control over transport, skills, employment, housing, innovation and net zero, Mr Hunt said Scottish and Welsh-style single, multi-year funding settlements would be introduced for the two regions at the next Spending Review.

Lawyers and democratic services officers criticise Government refusal of freedom of information request on remote meetings ‘call for evidence’

Local Government Lawyer | 14 March 2023

The Government has refused a freedom of information request from the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) in relation to its remote meetings ‘call for evidence’, on the grounds of the burden it would impose.

Governance change could 'stall the momentum' of city's improvement journey

Local Government Chronicle | 9 March 2023

The transition to a new governance model after the May 2023 elections could “stall the momentum” of Liverpool City Council’s improvement journey, its commissioners have said.

Inquiry finds city council legal leadership failed to question "what it was right or proportionate” to do in tree protest dispute

Local Government Lawyer | 9 March 2023

An independent inquiry into the management of the street trees dispute that engulfed Sheffield City Council has found the local authority's legal leadership focused on what the council was entitled to do, and "failed to pose questions of what would work or what it was right or proportionate to do".

EXCLUSIVE: Voter ID data may fail to offer accurate information

The MJ | 7 March 2023

Data collected by the Government to assess its voter ID policy could present a false picture of its impact, a senior sector figure has warned.

Council issues statement after councillor was misgendered during meeting and received online abuse

Local Government Lawyer | 7 March 2023

The Mayor and Chief Executive of the London Borough of Newham have apologised to a non-binary councillor who received online abuse after they were repeatedly misgendered during a council meeting.

Investigation into removal "without due care" of significant city statue finds council officers failed to follow agreed procedures

Local Government Lawyer | 7 March 2023

An internal investigation into the removal of a significant city statue has found that officers at Stoke-on-Trent City Council were responsible for the instructions to contractors that led to the statue being removed “without due care”.

Councils plead for extra audit time

The MJ | 3 March 2023

English councils have pleaded for an extra month for local authorities to publish their draft unaudited final accounts and open them to public inspection.

Levelling Up Committee launches inquiry on local audit

UK Parliament | 3 March 2023

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee launches an inquiry into financial reporting and audit, examining a range of issues relating to the purpose and understanding of local audit and the impact of local authority accounts and audit findings.

Cumbria reorganisation: ‘We’re going through a profound change, whether we like it or not’

Local Government Chronicle | 3 March 2023

LGC sat down with the two new unitaries’ chief executives and leaders to discuss their experience of the process.

Government steps up counter-fraud skills and capability

Cabinet Office | 2 March 2023

Ambitious new plans for stepping up the government's fight against fraud have been unveiled, as the Public Sector Fraud Authority unveil their new strategy for the Counter Fraud Profession.

The Counter Fraud Profession Strategy outlines how the new Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) will increase the skills, standards and capability of staff within government and beyond working on protecting public services from fraud.

Avoiding failure: scanning for risks

The MJ | 1 March 2023

In the latest in a series of articles on how to avoid organisational failure, The MJ examines the importance of the three people more likely to identify risk, and what should be on their ‘starter for 10’ agenda.

Former mayor accused of bribing voters withdraws election petition after footage shows him handing out party-branded dates

Local Government Lawyer | 1 March 2023

A former lord mayor of Birmingham who disputed the results of an election in which he lost his seat has withdrawn his election petition after "overwhelming" evidence that he had been giving voters packs of dates came to light.

York and North Yorkshire to press ahead with devolution deal

Local Government Chronicle | 27 February 2023

City of York Council and North Yorkshire CC have agreed to progress with devolution plans that will lead to the creation of a new combined authority.

Slough rapped by auditor

The MJ | 23 February 2023

Slough Council’s external auditor has uncovered ‘weaknesses in governance arrangements’ after looking into the purchase of its headquarters building.

President of National Association of Local Councils tables amendments to Bill that would allow holding of remote meetings

Local Government Lawyer | 17 February 2033

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has urged the House of Lords to back amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that would allow councils to hold remote meetings and suspend councillors who breach the code of conduct, amongst other measures.

NALC president Baroness Scott of Needham Market, who has been a member of the House of Lords for more than two decades, put forward the package of amendments for peers to consider yesterday (16 February). To read NALC’s briefing in support of the amendments, please see here.

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Contract Management

Procurement Bill – the journey so far…

The Procurement Bill moved to the Report Stage in the House of Commons on 22 February 2023. The Bill’s journey so far has been far from plain sailing. The Bill spent seven months in the House of Lords undergoing what the Lords observed may even be a record number of government amendments. The Lords were confident that the Bill was better when they handed it over than it was at the start. However, it has gone through further scrutiny and amendment in the House of Commons to date with a number of fairly significant amendments introduced by the Public Bill Committee. There are likely to be further changes before it finally receives Royal Assent.

What are the changes?

The current version of the Bill is available here. Whilst there have been hundreds of amendments, many of these derive from changes to terminology and definitions which permeate through the entire Bill. Other substantive changes have been made to resolve practical issues or to further particular objectives. Our article Procurement Bill – The journey so far touches on a few of those changes to to provide a sense of the Bill’s development. These changes include:

  • Definitions and terminology
  • Closing potential loopholes
  • Furthering the aims and objectives of the Bill

What happens next?

The House of Commons have further opportunities to debate and amend the Bill in the remaining stages before the Bill receives Royal Assent. At that point draft secondary legislation will be introduced and guidance prepared fleshing out much of the practical detail. There will also be a notice period of at least six months before the Act applies on the ground. The current indication is that this will not be until early 2024 at the earliest.

The procurement team at Bevan Brittan are closely monitoring the Bill’s progress and will keep you updated on further developments. If you would like to discuss the Bill and what it means for your organisation please do get in touch.

Publications & Guidance

PPN 03/23: Standard Selection Questionnaire (SQ)

Cabinet Office | 9 March 2023

This Procurement Policy Note (PPN) updates the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and accompanying statutory guidance and replaces PPN 08/16.  Our article explains the changes and the guidance.

Transforming Public Procurement

Government Commercial Function | 28 February 2023 

The Government Commercial Function has updated its collection on the planned public procurement reforms, delaying the anticipated ‘go-live’ date for the new regime until 2024.

Procurement Bill [HL] - Publications

UK Parliament | 13 February 2023

The House of Commons Library has published new written evidence submissions for the Procurement Bill. Evidence submitted comes from the Women’s Resource Centre, Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP, Serco Group Plc and the Local Government Association, among others.


InHealth Intelligence Ltd v NHS England [2023] EWHC 352 (TCC)

The judgement was handed down on 20 February 2023. The claimant challenged a decision of NHS England to exclude it from participating in a public procurement competition.

 The procurement was for the award of a contract for child health information services, divided into lots. The claimant alleged that it was prevented from participating in the procurement as a whole due to an error in uploading a single document to the designated e-tendering portal, which was operated by a third-party provider. It challenged (i) the design of the portal, which it alleged was defective in failing to allow validly uploaded bids in respect of lots 1 to 3 to be submitted; (ii) the transparency of the ‘error’ message in respective lot 4; and (iii) the lawfulness of the defendant’s decision.  The court held, among other things, that the problem was not the design of the e-portal, but human error in the use of the portal in the circumstances where the claimant had left it to six minutes before the deadline to process its submission. Additionally, the defendant’s decision was not manifestly flawed, or irrational, whether in relation to lots 1 to 4, or lots 1 to 3. Accordingly, the claimant had failed to comply with the clearly stated deadline for reasons which were, unfortunately, its fault.


Max Recycle ‘council subsidy’ legal challenge heads back to court

Local Government Chronicle | 7 March 2023

The lengthy legal dispute between Max Recycling and Durham CC is heading back into the courts a year after the company lost in the Court of Appeal.

MRW, LGC's sister publication reports that Max Recycle has taken the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, where it will be the first to be heard under the Subsidy Control Act 2022, a piece of legislation that replaced the former European Union rules on state aid.

Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains: An Update

Bevan Brittan | March 2023

Last month the Cabinet Office published a Procurement Polucy Note which made following existing 2019 guidance on Tackling Modern Slavery in Government Supply Chains mandatory and which introduced new rules and guidance with the aim of mitigating the risk of modern slavery in government supply chains.

Exclusion and debarment under the Procurement Bill - Part 1

Bevan Brittan | March 2023

The Bill adopts a similar approach to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR) in that the mandatory and discretionary exclusion grounds form the basis for whether a supplier must or may be excluded from a public procurement process.  However, there are some fundamental changes in terms of what authorities are looking at and how and when those checks will be carried out.  Critically, the consequences of exclusion from a procurement process have also changed with the introduction of the new central public debarment list.  We answer some key questions on these changes in this article.

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Disputes & Regulatory Support

Davies V Bridgend County Borough Council

In this case the Claimant became concerned about the knotweed in his garden in 2017 and raised this with the Defendant in 2019.

At first instance it was determined that the Defendant was in breach of duty for a period starting from 2013, when the Defendant should have had knowledge of the JKW growth, until 2018 when a reasonable an effective treatment programme started.

However, the District Judge rejected the Claimant’s claim that he was entitled to damages for “residual diminution in value” of his property. The District Judge concluded that this was economic loss only, and therefore irrecoverable.

That decision was upheld by a High Court Judge on a first appeal.


The Claimant appealed the “residual diminution” point to the Court of Appeal.

In allowing the appeal, the Court of Appeal stated that, despite successful treatment, the encroachment of JKW onto his land had represented an ongoing nuisance, and that such encroachment would have affected the Claimant’s use and enjoyment of his land, thereby amounting to “damage” to the property.

As such this was not a case of pure economic loss, and the “residual diminution” could be recovered as damages.

What does this mean for Local Authorities?

For any entity with large land holdings and many neighbours, JKW claims are likely to continue to be received.

The case confirms that liability for diminution in value will be recoverable in most instances, but that effective and proactive management of known infestations (and the discovery and treatment of previously unidentified infestations) remain the best options for minimising risk.

Upon the presentation of claims, obtaining robust expert evidence will be critical.

The appropriate valuation of these claims will continue to be a key contentious issue, which is likely to become only more significant once the extended fixed cost regime comes into force. For now, it is likely that JKW claims will remain a nuisance for insurers and local authorities alike.

If you would like more guidance on this topic, please Matthew Anderson or Roger Carver.

Publications & Guidance

Progress on the courts and tribunals reform programme

National Audit Office | 23 February 2023

In 2016, HMCTS launched an ambitious portfolio of reforms later brought together to form the courts and tribunals reform programme. A significant part of the programme’s success depends on how effectively HMCTS implements its new digital case management system for criminal courts, common platform. HMCTS expects the system to deliver a quarter of the programme’s estimated gross lifetime savings. In this report, we examine:

  • HMCTS’s progress since 2019 (Part One)
  • whether HMCTS is rolling out common platform effectively (Part Two)
  • whether the reform programme is on course to achieve its expected benefits

As HMCTS has not yet completed the reform programme, we conclude on value for money risks. To read HMCTS’s response, please see here: HMCTS response to National Audit Office report on Reform.

Tenancy Mediation Pilot post implementation review report

Ministry of Justice | 22 February 2023

This is a joint publication between the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) who jointly sponsored the Tenancy Mediation Pilot in response to COVID-19.

The pilot supported possession cases as they progressed through court, encouraging settlement without a substantive hearing where possible and assisted with sustaining tenancies, ensuring that no one was made homeless as a result of the pandemic.


Council judicial review application over asylum seeker hotels refused

Local Government Lawyer | 9 March 2023

The High Court has refused a judicial review application from Torbay Council that argued the placement of asylum seekers in local hotels would have a significant impact on Children's Services.

High Court judge rejects bid by council to set aside order requiring interim provision of accommodation to asylum seeker in age assessment dispute

Local Government Lawyer | 8 March 2023

A High Court judge has dismissed an application by Liverpool City Council to set aside an order requiring it within no more than one week to provide accommodation and support to an asylum seeker, MA, under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.

City wins legal challenge over building costs

Local Government Chronicle | 8 March 2023

Wolverhampton City Council has won a legal challenge over increased building costs claimed by the contractor that refurbished its civic halls.

Court of Appeal upholds decision by Ombudsman to disclaim jurisdiction over two complaints

Local Government Lawyer | 7 March 2023

In Milburn, R (On the Application Of) v Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman [2023] EWCA Civ 207, The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman was right to say that it did not have jurisdiction over two complaints because Philip Milburn, who brought the case, had the right of appeal to a tribunal.

Most vulnerable to be given more support to pay for court and tribunal fees

Ministry of Justice | 7 March 2023

The scheme supports people on low incomes and with little to no savings with court and tribunal fees, ensuring a person’s financial situation does not limit their ability to seek justice.

The government has launched a 12-week consultation to expand the scheme by raising the income threshold for eligibility and providing better targeted support for those on lower incomes.

Judicial review applications in 2022 down more than a quarter on pre-Covid baseline of 2019: Ministry of Justice

Local Government Lawyer | 3 March 2023

There were 2,400 judicial review applications received in 2022, up 5% on 2021 (2,300) but down 28% on 2019 (from 3,400) as a pre-Covid19 baseline, the Ministry of Justice has revealed.

Government again admits its ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) policy is unlawful

Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London | 2 March 2023

​The government has been forced to concede that the NRPF policy is unlawful in the way that it treats people with disabilities who may require public funds. The admission came in the course of legal action brought by two individuals represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, and was supported by RAMFEL, The Unity Project, and Impact: Law for Social Justice, arguing that the policy itself was unlawful.

Supreme Court quashes planning permission after resident wins appeal over sale by town council of land subject to statutory trust

Local Government Lawyer | 1 March 2023

In R (On the application of Day) v Shropshire Council [2023] UKSC 8, the Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by a resident after a town council disposed of land subject to a statutory trust for public recreational purposes without complying with the statutory requirements.

New expert panel to support victims after major disasters

Ministry of Justice | 1 March 2023

Survivors and the bereaved families of major disasters like Hillsborough, the Manchester Arena bombing and the Grenfell Tower fire will receive new dedicated support in the future under plans unveiled by the government.

Election court awards costs against petitioner in 'dates bribe' case

Law Gazette | 28 February 2023

Arare sitting of the Election Court has agreed to withdraw a petition for a council election to be declared void after receiving 'conclusive evidence' that the petitioner handed packets of dates to potential voters. 

In Muhammed Afzal v Ayoub Khan & Ors, His Honour Judge Richard Foster, sitting as election commissioner, was ruling on a petition by Labour candidate Muhammed Afzal to overturn the result of a local election in Birmingham in May 2022. Afzal had argued that the two successful Liberal Democrat candidates had falsely accused him of bribing voters with party-branded packets of dates. The judge observed that the election took place during Ramadan, 'and that the consumption of dates is a traditional way in which Muslims end their fast at sundown'.

Judges reject council challenge over requirement to participate in national dispersal scheme for asylum seeker children

Local Government Lawyer | 24 February 2023

In Medway Council, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 377 (Admin), a Divisional Court has dismissed Medway Council's judicial review challenge of a Home Office decision to mandate the local authority's participation in a national statutory scheme aimed at equitably distributing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UAS children) across council areas.

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry and Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry publish details on how they will work together

UK Covid-19 Inquiry | 23 February 2023

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry and the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry have published an agreement, setting out how they will work together.

Home Office algorithm for detecting ‘sham marriages’ breaches public sector equality duty and GDPR rules, pre-action letter claims

Local Government Lawyer | 22 February 2023

The Public Law Project (PLP) has launched a legal challenge over an algorithm used by the Home Office to target people for 'sham marriage' investigations, alleging the tool may have discriminated against certain nationalities.

Update: UK Covid–19 Inquiry to begin hearing evidence in June for its first investigation

UK Covid-19 Inquiry | 22 February 2023

The Chair of the Inquiry, Baroness Heather Hallett has ruled that the Inquiry will begin hearing evidence for its first investigation (Module 1), examining the UK’s pandemic preparedness on Tuesday 13 June. The hearings will take place over six weeks, and will conclude on Friday 21 July.

High Court judge sets aside order requiring council to provide interim relief to asylum seeker bringing legal challenge over age assessment

Local Government Lawyer | 21 February 2023

A High Court judge has granted an application from Liverpool City Council to set aside his order requiring it to provide interim relief to an asylum seeker who claimed that an age assessment carried out by the local authority was “erroneous”.

Pitch planning permission lawful despite claim councillors were materially misled, High Court rules

Local Government Lawyer | 20 February 2023

In Pearce, R (On the Application Of) v West Berkshire Council [2023] EWHC 209 (Admin), the High Court has found that West Berkshire Council's planning approval for a single-storey sports pavilion, car park and artificial turf pitch was lawful, rejecting a claim that planning officers materially misled the planning committee.

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Resources Library

All Bevan Brittan articles and news

New Statutory Procurement Duties on the Horizon for Welsh Contracting Authorities - Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill

Dealing with Inflation in Construction Contracts

Data Matters - February 2023 - Bevan Brittan’s Information Law and Privacy Update

Lifetime Allowance - Gone? Not just yet!

Exclusion and debarment under the Procurement Bill - Part 1

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


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Housing Management Update | Bevan Brittan LLP

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