Commenting on the announcement today by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, of the Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for next year, David Hutton, Head of Local Government at law firm Bevan Brittan, said:
“There is finally a degree of certainty about 2020-21 and the retention of business rates (75%). This builds on recent budget announcements and the Industrial Strategy that emphasised that place and economic growth were to be the key to the future sustainability of local government and communities. Further consultation on redistribution is to take place and the increased number of pilots is welcomed as is the stated desire to deal with negative Revenue Support Grant (RSG).
“Councils will welcome the ability to increase council tax by an additional 1% next year, should they wish to impose it locally. With the need for more homes already recognised and plans in place in many areas, this little financial uplift will help towards that.
“Overall, this is a provisional finance settlement that many have been waiting for to offer some clarity and for that reason most councils should welcome it.”
For many years local authorities have entered into corporate joint ventures with private and other public sector partners. Limited liability partnerships have become the favoured vehicle for joint ventures, primarily because of tax transparency and the flexibility of governance arrangements. The case of Gordon Peters v London Borough of Haringey with Lendlease Europe Holdings Limited as an interested party  EWHC 192 (Admin) questioned local authority vires to enter into a corporate JV structured as an LLP. However, the High Court ruled on 8 February 2018 that LLPs can lawfully be used where the local authority's primary or dominant purpose is not a "commercial purpose".
A team at Bevan Brittan led by Richard Hiscoke advised on the sale of the business of Buckinghamshire's rural broadband provider, Aylesbury Vale Broadband (AVB), to Gigaclear, the leading provider of full fibre broadband in rural locations.
Following the news of Carillion's liquidation, public sector organisations whose projects involve Carillion as service provider will be keen to obtain comfort from their Project Co about service continuity and the related cost.