26/02/2019

LA Spotlight

Brexit is getting all too real

Normally, uncertainty provides lawyers with opportunity to advise and use our training to find solutions to clients’ problems. However, not all uncertainty is helpful in legal terms. For Brexit, with the end of March looming and no real indication of the way Parliament may next vote, levels of uncertainty are significant. It makes advising more difficult. We know the outcome will have significant consequences in the short, medium and long term for us all and for local government. But as councils with statutory responsibilities the need for planning service provision in April and beyond is paramount. With the forthcoming May elections local policy decisions are also under more scrutiny. It means there are an increasing number of practical problems that councils are needing to find solutions for in anticipation of short term problems and uncertainty. Not all of it caused by the legal position but the consequences on delivery.

Many of the Brexit issues have been set out by the LGA in December 

From a legal perspective the LLG have attempted to summarise some of the key issues

Brexit means Brexit but local authorities will remain subject to the requirements of EU law for some foreseeable time to come. Even if the UK crashes out without a deal, the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 will have enshrined into UK law many EU legal requirements. Moves to a new regime will not happen overnight, since there will need to be many changes to UK legislation to adopt new rules e.g. on visa requirements for workers and WTO rules on procurement. Until new legislation is put in place authorities will need to follow current laws.

Then if there is a deal (or an agreed extension beyond 29 March) there will be a transitional period to 31 December 2020 (or later, if the terms of the EU-UK trade deal and the Northern Ireland backstop cannot be agreed). Inability to agree terms of the NI backstop could take us to 31 December 2022 or later – keeping us in the customs union - with Europe still dictating issues such as tax, environmental regulation and labour laws potentially until the mid-2020s.

However, for councils there are immediate issues that are having an effect on service delivery and will impact on how services and functions may need to be delivered in a different way in the short term. To support clients we have set up a Brexit Advisory Service advising clients who are facing issues and seeking the best way to protect themselves and their services in the short and medium term on such practical matters as:

  • Contingency care and other staff particularly in the health and care sectors.
  • Back up food banks
  • Ensuring the revenues and benefits services are operationally secure and stable platforms
  • Port protection and potential development
  • Planning and working with stakeholders on concerns about civil unrest

Of a strictly legal nature short term issues mostly being raised relate to:

  • Workforce retention (including settled status) and new workforce strategies
  • Business immigration
  • EU law and procurement
  • State aid implications
  • Personal data and consumer rights including GDPR
  • IPR
  • Revised contractual terms and considering a “Brexit clause” for new contracts

Whatever the position by the end of March we expect the consequences to have a continued effect on councils. The context of future advice around the manner in which councils deliver services and support the development and maintenance of their thriving communities will be altered and is likely to require further innovation, commercialisation and a reassessment of the legal environment which may redefine obligations. We continue to work to find solutions to support these initiatives bringing ideas and sharing experiences.

 

 

Commercialisation

The crisis in children’s services has been looming for more than a decade and it’s fast becoming an acute crisis for that group within society which is the most vulnerable. Whilst certainly not helped by the uncertainty of the current political climate, the gravity and extent of the national pressure is consistently hitting the national headlines (Rise in children taken into care pushes 88% of councils over budget).

Directors of Children’s Services, and indeed Finance, have been grappling with these pressures for a number of years and the impact on service delivery in some areas has led to the highest levels of DfE intervention. We have worked with a number of these authorities to establish alternative delivery vehicles to deliver service improvement (https://www.bevanbrittan.com/insights/news/2018/bevan-brittan-advises-sandwell-council-on-launch-of-childrens-trust/). These have reaped rapid rewards for the children that they serve https://www.birminghamchildrenstrust.co.uk/news/article/36/children_s_services_in_birmingham_showing_sustained_improvement as well as sustainable improvement (https://www.doncasterchildrenstrust.co.uk/news/major-inspection-rates-doncaster-children%E2%80%99s-services-trust-good).

The reality behind the current crisis is a complex myriad of factors, which challenge the sustainability of this service. There is no quick fix to the funding crisis nor the breadth of the service which is affected https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/02/foster-carers-struggling-looming-crisis. What is clear, however, is that the rates of ‘Looked After Children’ are going up, and increasing at such a rate that nationally authorities cannot keep up with the need.

In 2012, we saw public services come full circle back to its origins in local government. Early help and prevention in children’s services – often an area to receive the first hit when the pressures rises. There are those authorities who have sought reformation of this area and so perhaps a strategic partnership and collaboration can start to scratch the service?

 

Publications

Pressures on children’s social care
National Audit Office | 23 January 2019
This report sets out recent trends in pressures on children’s social care demand and activity and the response of both national and local government to these pressures. It also sets out analysis we conducted about what is causing variations in children’s social care demand and activity between different local authorities.

LGA responds to NAO report on children's social care
Local Government Association | 23 January 2019
Responding to a report by the National Audit Office on children’s social care, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Children’s social care is facing a country-wide cash crisis and this report rightly recognises the huge demand that councils are experiencing while attempting to manage significant funding reductions”.

Social care charging for local authorities: 2019 to 2020
Department of Health and Social Care | 23 January 2019
Information for local authorities on charging for care and support.

Improving the public's health: local government delivers
Local Government Association | 6 February 2019
The changes to public health over the last six years should be seen as an exemplar of public sector reform. Good public health, drawing imaginatively on all of local government’s functions, can make a real, large-scale difference to: promoting the independence of people with long-term chronic conditions; preventing ill health and therefore to reducing pressures on social care and the NHS; improving people’s lives and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities. The data presented in this publication demonstrates that the local authority delivery of public health is effective, accountable, efficient and offers great value for money.

 

News

Rise in children taken into care pushes 88% of councils over budget
The Guardian | 8 January 2019
Local authorities overspent on children’s services by an estimated £807m in 2017-18. Almost nine out of 10 local authorities in England overspent on children’s social care in the last financial year, as the rising number of children taken into care put extra pressure on budgets. Analysis by the Guardian and the Local Government Association (LGA) found that 133 out of 152 councils (88%) responsible for children’s services overspent in 2017-18. Local authorities went over budget on children’s social care by an estimated £807m, by far the highest area of overspending in council budgets.

Ministers play down commercialisation 'crackdown'
LocalGov | 10 January 2019
Ministers have played down the prospect of a widespread crackdown on councils that borrow for commercial reasons. The Treasury and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) are considering whether ‘further interventions’ are required to slow the commercialisation trend, which has led to councils spending £4.1bn on commercial property over the last four years. 

Councils to save £90,000 by sharing top staff
LocalGov | 10 January 2019
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councils have announced plans to share more of their top personnel in order to make efficiency savings. The plans will see a new joint executive director join Gillian Beasley, who has held the post of joint chief executive of both councils since 2015.The new role is being created to lead place and economy work across both the county and the city council, replacing a senior role in each.

Local authority property spending soars as Spelthorne Council deals eclipse £1bn
Radius Data Exchange | 11 January 2019
Spelthorne Borough Council is nearing completion on deals to buy two £100m-plus properties in London. This reflects a wider public sector gamble on real estate. Spelthorne is in talks to acquire 100 Cheapside, EC2 from Aberdeen Standard Investments for around £140m. It is also eyeing up One Embassy Gardens, SW8, which owner Ballymore has put on the market for circa £160m. The Surrey council is the top local authority investor in UK commercial real estate, investing close to £950m over the past five years – while these two London deals could see Spelthorne breach £1.2bn by the end of this quarter. Overall, total public sector spend on property peaked at £1.9bn last year, according to Radius Data Exchange, beating the 2017 record of £1.8bn.

Essex council to invest £20m in commercial property
LocalGov | 15 January 2019
Southend-on-Sea Council is set to invest £20m in commercial property in a bid to replace cuts in central government funding. It says income from commercial property will be reinvested to prevent bigger rises in council tax and cuts to jobs and services.

Somerset council’s ‘help at home’ scheme saves NHS £2m
LocalGov | 17 January 2019
Somerset County Council’s ‘help at home’ scheme has helped patients avoid 7,500 nights in hospital and has saved the NHS at least £2m. The Homefirst scheme, which has been jointly developed by the council’s adult social care team and the county’s hospitals, reduces hospital stays by up to 10 days by offering patients the opportunity to finish their therapy at home.

Crawley council joins ‘money-saving’ insurance mutual
LocalGov | 21 January 2019
Crawley Borough Council has become a founding member of the local government insurance mutual, which it argues will help reduce the authority’s ‘forecasted budget gap’. The Local Government Mutual offers councils a cost-effective alternative to the conventional insurance market products and services available to local government. Owned and controlled by its members, and supported by the Local Government Association, the mutual reduces the typical members’ risk exposure without increasing their costs.

Commercialisation: Special report
Local Government Chronicle | 23 January 2019 (subscription required)
When Theresa May announced that austerity was over last October many in local government were justifiably sceptical. Central financial support for councils is fast disappearing, demand for social care is on the rise and nobody appears to be coming to the rescue. LGC’s latest report on commercialisation, written in conjunction with DWF, shows many in local government decided to take matters into their own hands some time ago by seeking to generate income through commercial activity, with a majority of these intent on expanding their efforts.

The supermarket in Wales owned by a small council … in Surrey
The Guardian | 26 January 2019
‘Casino councils’ are spending huge sums on property across the country in a high-stakes bid to balance their books. Councils across England are under huge pressure to adopt a more expansive investment strategy, as their funding from central government is slashed. Many have responded by loading up with debt to play the property market, exposing some to a ticking timebomb of high borrowings and the nascent threat of a property-market collapse.

Popular council services could be swallowed by £8bn funding black hole
LocalGov | 1 February 2019
Many popular council services could disappear by 2025 due to a £8bn funding black hole, council leaders have warned today. The Local Government Association (LGA) have published a list of seven discretionary services that councils might need to consider reducing in order to meet their statutory duties. This includes improving parks and green spaces, council tax support, tackling fly-tipping and graffiti, trading standards, school crossing patrols, rural and post-16 school bus services, and cultural services. However, it added that cutting back on these services may not be enough to protect statutory services such as adult social care, protecting children and supporting those facing homelessness.

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Place & Growth

State Aid and Regeneration

In 2018 we saw an increasing need to advise about the application of the rules to local authority regeneration projects and suspect that this will continue. These typically involve engaging with the private sector to draw down on finance and/or expertise and obtaining central government “gap” funding.  Although the outcome of Brexit (discussed here and here) could reduce the availability of private finance, the need for regeneration will continue to be significant, which means the public sector could be required to increase support in a variety of ways. For example, Homes England appears to be committing funding at a much increased level. 

Ensuring compliance with the State Aid rules will remain critical to ensure projects start on a sound footing. As ever, the key to dealing with State Aid effectively is to do so at a project’s formative stage. This is likely to provide the greatest number of options for ensuring compliance. By way of example, we set out below some of the aid issues that commonly arise in regeneration projects, and the suggested solutions.

The authority as an undertaking

Authorities often obtain government funding to unlock a site’s development, in particular by supporting decontamination, flood alleviation and access works that render development unviable. This can result in the authority exposing itself to the risk of being classified as an undertaking under the rules. However, this can commonly be addressed by ensuring that it acts only as an intermediary for the funding, retaining no benefit for itself (i.e. the pass-through principle).

Funding private sector decontamination works

The authority will often wish to use government grant to fund a developer/landowner to undertake decontamination works.  At first glance, these are pure development costs and a clear financial advantage would be provided by doing so.  However, article 45 of the General Block Exemption Regulation[1] permits investment aid to undertakings repairing environmental damage by remediating contaminated sites. This is defined as damage to the quality of the soil, surface water or groundwater.  Up to €20 million aid can be given for 100% of eligible costs, and as long as the other provisions of the Regulation are met, including the “polluter pays” principle, this could be the most suitable way of complying with the rules at this level.

Funding flood works

The authority may also wish to fund the Environment Agency to implement a flood alleviation scheme.  In such circumstances, both are likely to be acting "in their capacity as public authorities"[2] rather than as undertakings performing economic activity. Furthermore, these will be works to public infrastructure that cannot be commercially exploited.  There are therefore good grounds for concluding that the rules will not be breached.

Access roads

The authority will often procure the delivery of road improvements to provide better access to development sites.  As with flood works, this is likely to be outside of the aid rules on the basis it is public infrastructure that cannot be commercially exploited. However, there could potentially be indirect aid to specific landowners, for example, if an access road is designed to meet their requirements and serves a single site.  Care has to be taken to ensure that this is not the case, and that the developer contributes under a section 106 agreement in line with the authority’s usual arrangements.

Conclusion

These examples show how the rules can be complied with using a variety of approaches.  If you are interested in discussing any of them in more detail, please get in touch with a member of our State aid team.

 

Legislation

Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Act 2018 (Consequential Amendments and Savings Provisions) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/110)
On 26 January 2019, the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Act 2018 (Consequential Amendments and Savings Provisions) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/110) came into force as one of the provisions designed to facilitate the abolition of the right to buy in Wales.

 

Publications & Guidance

Consultation on improving access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 9 January 2019
Closes 8 March 2019
The MHCLG are seeking views on proposals for new statutory guidance for local authorities to improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces community. 

Consultation on Protecting and Enhancing England’s Trees and Woodlands
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Closes 28 February 2019
This consultation seeks views on the UK government’s proposals to introduce four new measures designed to increase transparency and accountability in the process of felling street trees and to strengthen the Forestry Commission’s power to tackle illegal tree felling.  Two of the measures introduce new duties on local authorities: a duty to consult on the felling of street trees; a duty to report on tree felling and replanting; while the third suggests the production of best practice guidance to support local authorities in drawing up, consulting on and publishing a Tree and Woodland Strategy.

Clean Air Strategy 2019 policy paper
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs | 14 January 2019
This strategy sets out our plans for dealing with all sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy.

Working with the public sector to achieve comprehensive registration
HM Land Registry | 18 January 2019
In her blog in April 2018, Maggie Telfer, Deputy Director for Comprehensive Registration, outlined HM Land Registry’s strategic aims to achieve the registration of all freehold land by 2030. To achieve this aim more help is needed from local authorities and other public sector bodies. If you work for a local authority in England or Wales, please get in touch.

Five areas to share £20 million to unleash creativity across the nation
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport | 18 January 2019
Five locations across England will receive a share of £20 million to invest in local culture, heritage and creative industries and help drive economic growth, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright announced today.

In the first government investment of its kind, Grimsby, the Thames Estuary, Plymouth, Wakefield and Worcester will use the funding on local cultural plans. It is expected that the funding will create over 1,300 new jobs, benefit 2,000 people through skills training, and support more than 700 businesses. Through match-funding, an additional £17.5 million will be invested across the five locations.

Section 27 approval for local authority housing management agreements
Regulator of Social Housing | 21 January 2019
Guidance and forms for local housing authorities applying for approval to the making of or variation of management agreements under s27 of the Housing Act 1985

More funding to help town centres and high streets thrive
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 24 January 2019
Communities can bid for up to £50,000 to help make local areas more attractive for business, High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP has confirmed. The latest round of the £500,000 British Improvement Districts (BIDs) Loan Fund will support business owners and local leaders to set-up a BID, which allow communities to come together to deliver additional local services and upgrade commercial areas for the benefit of business.

Government announces plans to tackle illegal traveller sites
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 6 February 2019
The Home Secretary has announced plans to give police tough new powers to crackdown on illegal traveller sites. Sajid Javid set out draft measures aimed at making it easier for officers to intervene and remove travellers from land they should not be on. The Home Secretary will also consider making it a criminal offence to set up such camps. It is currently defined in law as trespassing, a civil matter. In addition, the MHCLG announced it will provide local authorities with practical and financial support to handle unauthorised encampments.

Planning for new homes
National Audit Office | 8 February 2019
The Department has set out a challenging ambition for 300,000 new homes a year from the mid-2020s, together with supporting infrastructure. The planning system is a key element in facilitating this. However, looking across the landscape, from the setting of the need for new homes, to the reductions in local authority capability, the under-performing Planning Inspectorate and failures in the system to ensure adequate contributions for infrastructure, it is clear that the system is not working well. Given these problems, we cannot conclude that the planning system currently provides value for money in terms of delivering new homes effectively. The Department understands the shortfalls in the planning system and its new planning policy framework aims to address some of these. However, it is too early to say how effective the new framework and proposed reforms will be in bringing about the level of change needed. The Department and government more widely need to take this much more seriously and bring about improvement if they are to meet their ambition.

 

News

The Guardian view on social housing: we need a cultural shift
The Guardian Editorial | 13 January 2019
The failure to provide adequate public sector rented housing in England is acknowledged across party lines as a catastrophe. A commission has put forward practical proposals. Nineteen months after the Grenfell Tower fire, some of the hunger for change catalysed by the terrible events of 14 June 2017 has found an outlet. A report by the commission on social housing convened by the charity Shelter takes up a number of proposals put forward by the disaster’s survivors. The signs are that the government is listening. Proposals for a new system of regulation in England are expected later this year.

London councils ‘spending millions of pounds on renting back RTB homes’
Public Finance | 21 January 2019
London councils are spending more than £22m each year renting back homes sold under right to buy, research has found. A London Assembly member has called on the government to scrap the controversial scheme after research showed the number of former right to buy homes in London now in the private rented sector grew by 11,825 in the last five years.

A quarter of councils yet to submit a Local Plan
LocalGov | 24 January 2019
A quarter of local authorities have yet to submit a Local Plan six years after being required to act, new research has revealed. The report by Lichfields also finds that half of the plans adopted under the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will need to reviewed within two years. Its analysis of 221 Local Plans find that only 55% of local planning authorities have a sound, adopted post-NPPF 2012 plan. Of these, almost half (46%) required an increase in their housing requirement during their examination.

An open letter to Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP on Permitted Development Rights
LGA, RIBA, Shelter and others | 28 January 2019
Permitted development rights have caused extensive problems. Therefore, we consider that the current proposals to allow for demolition of existing buildings and replacement with new residential ones, and for upwards extensions to existing buildings for new homes through a permitted development right, should not be pursued. We call on the government to instead focus on delivering the affordable, high quality homes that people want and need through the local planning process. This would support the government’s own ambitions to improve the quality of homes and places, as outlined in the terms of reference of the ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ commission launched in November. We also consider that there should be an independent review of the wide-ranging impacts of permitted development rights allowing change of use into residential homes.

Cities outlook 2019: a decade of austerity
Centre for Cities | 28 January 2019
Cities Outlook 2019 explores how local government cuts since 2010 have impacted UK cities, finding that cities have shouldered almost three-quarters of all local government spending cuts.

Key findings

  • Per head, cities saw a cut in spending of £386 compared to £172 elsewhere in Britain.
  • The largest cuts were felt in the north of England, on average seeing 20% reductions in their budgets.
  • London also saw huge reductions in its spending, accounting for 30 per cent of the total cut to local government day-to-day spending since 2009/10, despite being home to 16% of the population.
  • Southern English cities (except London), were relatively less badly hit – and were more likely to find ways to replace lost government grants, such as setting charges for services.
  • Cities experienced an increase in demand for services like social care, more than half of cities spend most of their budgets on social care – in 2009/10, only four cities were in that position.

Serving the public interest? The reorganisation of planning services in an era of reluctant outsourcing
Royal Town Planning Institute | 30 January 2019
Austerity in England has eroded planning’s ability to serve the public interest, according to planners who took part in a study by the RTPI and Newcastle University, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Under-resourcing, coupled with reforms that have undermined planning’s strategic role, have relegated it to a largely reactive, regulatory function in many local authorities.

Communities Secretary issues directions to two councils over Local Plan failure
Local Government Lawyer | 5 February 2019
The Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire, has issued directions to two local authorities, Wirral and Thanet Councils, on preparations for their Local Plans. In both cases the minister said the requirements of s.27(1) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 had been met for intervention in view of the councils' failure to get a Local Plan in place. The two local authorities are now required (within ten weeks of the letter for Wirral and four weeks for Thanet) to designate a lead councillor and lead official to be responsible for progressing preparation of the Local Plan. Wirral has also been directed to publish an action plan, which must be verified by independent planning experts, and report monthly to the Ministry on progress.

The return of council housebuilding
Public Finance | 8 February 2019
Ministers have laid the foundations for a new era in council housebuilding and say it is up to authorities to deliver. It has been a long time coming, but 2019 could just see the start of a renaissance in social housing. No longer restricted in how much they can borrow through their housing revenue account, councils have spent the past few months pondering whether the moment has arrived for them to become serious housebuilders again. The landmark decision to lift the cap reflects a dramatic shift in how both the government and public think and talk about social housing.

 

Cases

Safi v The Borough Council of Sandwell [2018] EWCA Civ 2876 (21 December 2018)
The Court of Appeal held that when determining whether a housing applicant should be treated as homeless, on the basis that it was not reasonable to expect them to continue to live in their current accommodation, a local housing authority should ask whether their continued occupation was reasonable for the foreseeable future, not just the present. Housing authorities should ensure that they consider all relevant circumstances when assessing "reasonableness".

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Governance & Reorganisation

The long awaited report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life on local government ethical standards was issued in January, and it has been interesting to discuss the various recommendations it makes during a number of update sessions we have held for that purpose. What is quite clear is the general consensus amongst those who attended that the current system is only slightly more effective than a chocolate fireguard, and although the recommendations are welcome in many respects, questions remain as to whether they go far enough.

Unsurprising to anyone in the public sector is the statement that local government finances continue to be a major concern, unless you are the Government of course, who according to the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier MP are “in denial about the perilous state of local finances. It insists the sector is sustainable yet is unwilling or unable to back up this claim.” Read all about it in the Committee’s report on local government spending.

The National Audit Office have published their report on local authority governance, which contains some quite startling information and statistics, for example external auditors issued qualified conclusions for around 20% of unitary and local councils, and “several authorities did not take appropriate steps to address these issues”. It was also interesting to read that Ministry intervention at councils is not always made public “meaning its scale and effectiveness is not open to scrutiny or challenge”.

The ICO continues to seek to push the boundaries of the access to information regime, having laid its report “Outsourcing Oversight? The case for reforming access to information law” before Parliament on 28 January 2019. The report focuses on the changing way in which public services are being delivered, and seeks to extend the FOIA/EIR regime to cover those models and maintain transparency and accountability. Watch out contractors, the ICO is coming!

 

Publications & Guidance

Local authority governance
National Audit Office | 15 January 2019
The report examines whether local governance arrangements provide local taxpayers and Parliament with assurance that local authority spending achieves value for money and that authorities are financially sustainable. The report addresses this question in three separate parts:

  • Part One examines the pressures on the local governance system;
  • Part Two explores the extent to which local governance arrangements function as intended; and
  • Part Three assesses whether the Department is fulfilling its responsibilities as steward of the system.

The report concludes there are concerns as to whether the local government governance system remains effective against the backdrop of funding challenges. In order to mitigate the growing risks to value for money in the sector the Department needs to improve its system-wide oversight, be more transparent in its engagement with the sector, and adopt a stronger leadership role across the governance network.

Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman welcomes National Audit Office report
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 15 January 2019
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has today welcomed the NAO report on local authority governance. Ombudsman, Michael King said: “We welcome the National Audit Office’s report, which highlights the same challenging climate as we did in our recent report, Under Pressure. Failings in governance are intrinsically linked to some of the practical issues we see going wrong when major transformation takes place in local government. “We urge councils to get ‘the basics’ right when undergoing change. In this climate the core principles of good administration are more important than ever”.

CIPFA response to NAO report on Local Government Governance
CIPFA | 15 January 2019
CIPFA CEO, Rob Whiteman, today welcomed the NAO’s report on Local Government Governance, which surveyed auditors and S151 officers about their existing governance arrangements:

“Given the significant financial and delivery challenges authorities face, no authority should be complacent about the adequacy of its governance. There were a lot of positives in today’s report, which highlighted that the majority of S151 officers are satisfied with their current arrangements. However, it also showed there are pockets of variation which mean some S151 officers feel better placed than others to fulfil their role and provide oversight”.

NHS Long Term Plan
Local Government Association | 17 January 2019
The Long Term Plan (LTP) was published on 7 January. This briefing focuses on the areas of most interest and relevance to local government and summarises all relevant LGA views, comments and policy messages.

Councils in England to receive over £50 million to support Brexit preparations
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 28 January 2019
Local authorities across England will receive a share of £56.5 million to help support their preparations for Brexit, ministers announced today (28 January 2019). Councils will receive £20 million this financial year (2018 to 2019) and £20 million in 2019 to 2020 to spend on planning and strengthening their resources. A further £10 million will be available in the next financial year (2019 to 2020). This funding is intended to help local authorities with specific costs which may arise following Brexit.

CIPFA welcomes £50m to support councils' Brexit plans - but certainty more important
CIPFA | 30 January 2019
Julia Goldsworthy, Chair of CIPFA’s Brexit Advisory Commission for Public Services, said:

“This funding announcement is welcome recognition of local government’s front line role in managing a disrupted exit from the EU. Resource far outweighing that committed yesterday has already been spent by local authorities in preparation - but what would be the greatest help to them now is certainty on the terms and timing of exit.”

Local government Brexit preparedness
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 28 January 2019
Guidance from government to assist local authority preparedness for exiting the European Union (EU).

ICO report on “Outsourcing Oversight? The case for reforming access to information law”
Information Commissioner’s Office | 28 January 2019
The ICO calls for an update to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004to include organisations providing a public function, and links in with the ICO’s recent draft access to information strategy ‘Openness by Design.’

Final local government finance settlement: England, 2019 to 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 29 January 2019
This collection brings together all documents relating to the final local government finance settlement: England, 2019 to 2020.

Response to the final Local Government Finance Settlement
Local government Association | 29 January 2019
Responding to the final Local Government Finance Settlement published today, Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “The Autumn Budget saw the Government act on our calls to provide councils with extra one-off funding in 2019/20, including for social care, potholes and high streets. However, councils still face a funding gap of more than £3 billion this year. The money councils have to provide local services is running out fast and there is huge uncertainty about how they will pay for them into the next decade and beyond. The upcoming Spending Review is absolutely crucial for councils. If we truly value our local services then we have to be prepared to pay for them. Fully funding councils is the only way they will be able to keep providing the services which make a difference to people’s lives, such as caring for older and disabled people, protecting children, building homes, fixing roads and collecting bins. Investing in local government services will also help reduce pressure on other parts of the public sector, such as the NHS, and save money for the public purse.”

Local government ethical standards: Committee publishes report
Committee on Standards in Public Life | 30 January 2019
The Committee on Standards in Public Life today published its report and recommendations on ethical standards in local government, following a year-long review and wide consultation. Key recommendations include:

  • a new power for local authorities to suspend councillors without allowances for up to six months
  • revised rules on declaring interests, gifts and hospitality
  • local authorities retain ownership of their own Codes of Conduct
  • a right of appeal for suspended councillors to the Local Government Ombudsman
  • a strengthened role for the Independent Person
  • greater transparency about the number and nature of Code complaints.

LGA responds to local government ethics report
Local Government Association | 30 January 2019
Responding to the new report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life on local government ethical standards, Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:

“Standards across local government are very high and the LGA already works closely with councils and councillors to promote good conduct and leadership. “A locally-led approach to standards – underpinned by a national framework – remains the right approach and the LGA is happy to play a leading role in updating a code of conduct to help guide our members.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman responds to Committee report on ethical standards
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 30 January 2019
The Ombudsman has welcomed the Committee on Standards in Public Life's report on Local Government Ethical Standards. Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “We welcome today’s report and support its call for a greater degree of transparency and independent oversight of a strengthened framework for local government ethical standards, particularly in circumstances where it has not been possible to resolve issues at a local level”.

Inquiry by Prime Minister’s independent advisory body backs NALC call to strengthen standards regime for 100,000 councillors
National Association of Local Councils | 30 January 2019
A year-long Parliamentary inquiry into ethical standards in local government, published today (30 January), has backed calls from the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) for reforms to the current regime aimed at improving behaviour in 10,000 local (parish and town) councils. NALC has campaigned for a range of measures to be introduced to support high standards of conduct by its 100,000 local councillors, including the re-introduction of sanctions, greater emphasis on training and development, and a single code of conduct for all tiers of local government based on NALC’s own model code. However, NALC has issued a plea to the Government to address the report’s failure to recommend and promote more councillor training and development.

Councils urged to check their parking policies following Ombudsman investigation
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | 31 January 2019
Councils across England are being urged to ensure they are using the correct legislation to issue parking fines at country parks following a LGSO investigation into Kent County Council. The investigation was prompted after a motorist complained the council could not help him when he was issued with a penalty charge by a contractor at one of its country parks. The motorist said the contractor told him to pay the charge and then appeal, but he was then told by the contractor he had lost his right to an appeal because he had paid the charge.

Risk and commercialisation: A guide for local scrutiny councillors
Association for Public Service Excellence | January 2019
This report by APSE and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) discusses the ways in which scrutiny can engage with issues arising from commercial activity. The report explores the current landscape around commercialisation, and provides a toolkit and guide for councils to help build their own bespoke, locally-relevant governance and scrutiny systems for commercial activity.

Local Government Finance Settlement 2019-20: Briefing Paper
House of Commons Library | 1 February 2019
Includes background to the settlement, supplementary information and statistical summary.

£8 billion funding black hole by 2025 will swallow up popular council services
Local Government Association | 1 February 2019
Communities may suffer the loss of leisure and cultural facilities, fewer bus services, unkempt parks and green spaces and see fly-tippers go unpunished without government investment in under-pressure council services. The Local Government Association is today launching its campaign to influence the forthcoming Spending Review by warning about the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils. However, the LGA said that, with the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead their local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services.

MHCLG EU Exit local information sharing
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 5 February 2019
MHCLG continues to closely engage with local authorities so that they and their residents are well-prepared for the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. To support this activity, a network of 9 local authority chief executives from across England has been established. The chief executives will engage with councils in their region to share information on preparations to support an orderly exit. Simultaneously, the chief executives will be kept well-informed on national policy on EU exit that could have implications for local services, businesses and residents.

James Brokenshire confirms funding package for local authorities in 2019 to 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 5 February 2019
Councils in England are to benefit from increased funding for core services including additional support for the most vulnerable in society.

Government in denial over state of council finances
Public Accounts Committee | 6 February 2019
Local authority finances continue to deteriorate amid rising demand for vital services. The Public Accounts Committee is dismayed by the Government’s view of what it constitutes as sustainability in the sector. Short-term cash injections are not good value and Government must instead plan for the future.

LGA response to PAC report on local government spending
Local Government Association | 6 February 2019
Responding to the report by the Public Accounts Committee into local government spending, Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: “With councils in England facing an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025, we are pleased the Committee has reinforced our warning that funding cuts and demand pressures are pushing local services to the brink. The Spending Review will therefore be make or break for vital local services and securing the financial sustainability of councils must be the top priority. If we truly value our local services then we have to be prepared to pay for them. We agree with the Committee that the financial sustainability of local government cannot be defined by the ability of councils to just provide statutory duties”.

 

News

Whitehall should pass more power to councils, says Truss
Public Finance | 8 January 2019
The government should relax its centralising tendencies and pass more powers down to local government, particularly counties, Liz Truss told the Local Government Association finance conference. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury declared herself to be a “great supporter of devolution” at the conference today.

She acknowledged that the result of the Brexit referendum was due in part to a resentment of Whitehall decision-making and stressed that the government must now look to give authorities the power to make decisions locally. “More decision making has to be done at a local level. When decisions are made at a distance, they take longer and can be less effective,” Truss said. “We are now seeing better representation of cities but we need more representation of counties.”

More than a third of councils face financial failure
LocalGov | 8 January 2019
More than a third of councils in England are at risk of financial failure in the next decade, with one in five on track to reach breaking point in the next three years, a new analysis has found.

A report from Grant Thornton found the most vulnerable councils are London boroughs, with 78% (25) forecast to crash by 2028, while half of unitary authorities and metropolitan councils are expected to be at risk of financial collapse in the next decade.

More public bodies failing to provide value for money, says NAO
Public Finance | 10 January 2019
The number of public bodies in England failing to provide value for money is “unacceptably high” and increasing, the public spending watchdog has warned.

Of the nearly 1,000 councils, police, fire and NHS bodies across England, 208 (22%) were found to have “significant weaknesses” in securing value for money in 2017-18, a National Audit Office report out today revealed. This was higher than the 170 (18%) of public bodies awarded a ‘qualified’ audit conclusion – signifying the significant weaknesses - in 2015-16.

North could set own taxes as part of new government department for region
Yorkshire Post | 13 January 2019
Plans for the North of England to set its own tax rates are being considered by the Government, according to reports. A proposed new department for the North would drive forward the region's transport, education and devolution agendas using funds generated by northern taxpayers, the Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry said, according to The Sunday Times.

MHCLG must have better oversight of local authority governance, says NAO
Public Finance | 15 January 2019
The government must improve its oversight of governance in local authorities as they struggle with increased financial and demand pressure, England’s spending watchdog has urged.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government must also be more transparent in its engagement with local authorities - both formal and informal – a National Audit Office report, released today, has said.  

Newham to improve financial management after £9m fraud allegations
LocalGov | 16 January 2019
The Mayor of Newham has announced plans to set up a commission to advise the council on how to ‘become a beacon of good practice’ in its financial management. Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her cabinet members proposed setting up the Internal Control Commission in the wake of allegations of a £9m fraud in the local authority’s repairs and maintenance service (RMS) under the previous administration.

Critics hit out at ministers’ proposed changes that claim to simplify grant distribution
Guardian | 20 January 2019
Leaders of urban councils have written to ministers to complain that under the “grossly unfair and illogical” proposals, potentially tens of millions of pounds would be switched to rural and suburban council areas.

Third council joins legal action over way unitary in Buckinghamshire is being set up
Local Government Lawyer | 28 January 2019
South Buckinghamshire District Council has agreed to join Chiltern and Wycombe District Councils in bringing legal action over the establishment of a new unitary council for Buckinghamshire. In a statement the three councils said they supported change and were working with the county council to take forward the decision of the Secretary of State to create one new unitary council for Buckinghamshire.

Cuts to support mean 1.3 million more low-income households get a council tax bill, but a quarter of the extra tax due is not paid
Institute for Fiscal Studies | 29 January 2019
In 2013, support for low-income households to pay their council tax was localised across England and funding for it was cut, while it was mandated that pensioners be protected. Hence for the first time since the poll tax, some of the lowest-income households have been required to pay local tax.

  • 90% of English councils have now cut council tax support (CTS) for those of working age below the levels provided to pensioners.
  • As a result, an extra 1.3 million working-age households are sent a council tax bill and another 1.2 million are billed for more than they would have been.
  • But many households have fallen behind with their council tax bills as a result, meaning that councils have failed to collect one-quarter of the extra tax that they have asked for.

These are among the findings of new IFS research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and published today.

Watchdog calls for councils to have power to suspend councillors for up to 6 months
Local Government Lawyer | 30 January 2019
Local authorities should be given the power to suspend councillors without allowances for up to six months, the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) has recommended. In a report, Local Government Ethical Standards, the CSPL said: “The current sanctions available to local authorities are insufficient. Party discipline, whilst it has an important role to play in maintaining high standards, lacks the necessary independence and transparency to play the central role in a standards system.

Town halls told to intensify Brexit planning
Public Finance | 1 February 2019
The local government secretary has instructed councils to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

James Brokenshire has advised them that it is “essential you are all undertaking the necessary local planning and preparations” if there is a failure to reach agreement with the European Union on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal. In a letter to all local authority leaders in England, he said the government “remains focused on securing a deal with the EU” but added that it is “responsible and prudent” to prepare for a potential no-deal scenario.

IFS: Public services need billions of extra pounds to end austerity
Public Finance | 11 February 2019
Public services face years more of austerity unless the chancellor hands out billions of extra pounds at the Spending Review, an economic think-tank has warned. Government spending plans announced in the autumn Budget will mean real terms cuts for public services other than health, defence and overseas aid, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The research, funded by the Economic and Social research Council and supported by the Institute for Government, said to avoid any cut to real-terms per capita spending, unprotected government departments would require an additional £5bn by 2023-24.

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Contract Management

Outsourcing continues to face some fundamental challenges as a result of changing public perceptions.  With conflicting sources reporting a 53% increase in outsourced contracts (Union warns outsourcing 'rockets' after Carillion collapse) followed by reports of an £80m fall in local government outsourcing in 2018 (Local government outsourcing fell by more than £80m in 2018), the one thing that is clear is that on the anniversary of the collapse of Carillion the topic remains headline news.

Since the demise of Carillion and the estimated cost to taxpayers, the question has been raised on whether the fallout may affect a local authority’s ability to consider outsourcing as a viable option.  Contracts that have been in place for the long term are starting to receive complaints and residents are telling the members that they don’t want councils dealing with the big outsourcing companies. 

Whilst the future for outsourcing remains unclear, one thing that is probable is that outsourcing will remain integral to the provision of local government services albeit that its persona will need to evolve to match expectation and demand.

 

Publications & Guidance

Local Government Pension Scheme: Fair Deal – strengthening pension protection
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 10 January 2019
Closes: 4 April 2019
This consultation contains proposals which would strengthen the pensions protections that apply when an employee of a Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) employer is compulsorily transferred to the employment of a service provider. The proposed amendments to the LGPS Regulations 2013 would, in most cases, give transferred staff a continued right to membership of the LGPS.

Model services contract
Cabinet Office | 24 January 2019
Choosing the right terms and conditions of contract is essential for government and public sector buyers to get best value. Version 1.07 of the Model Services Contract Combined Schedules has been released to update Schedule 11 (Processing data) with a new annex on Joint Control.

 

News

Government proposals offer pension security for outsourced council jobs
Public Finance | 10 January 2019
Local government workers whose jobs have been outsourced will remain in the Local Government Pension Scheme, under proposals announced today. Employers of outsourced staff will no longer be able to offer local government staff comparable schemes under proposals, set out in a Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consultation on 9 January.

Local government buying: the smart way forward
LocalGov | 14 January 2019
A steady decline in local government contracting to big multi-national companies revealed by the latest figures reflects growing nervousness in an unstable market place. The collapse of Carillion early last year followed by scares involving the likes of Capita, Interserve, Allied Healthcare and Kier appear to have confirmed the already apparent dangers of huge outsourcing deals.

Carillion one year on: Government outsourcers are still struggling with growing debt piles
City A.M. | 15 January 2019
On the anniversary of Carillion’s collapse, government outsourcers are still reporting ballooning debt levels as they try to balance the books.

Union warns outsourcing 'rockets' after Carillion collapse
LocalGov | 15 January 2019
Councils are still awarding outsourcing contracts to companies that have recently issued profit warnings, new research has revealed. Research by GMB found that a year after Carillion’s collapse, the total value of outsourcing contracts in the public sector has increased by 53% in the past year to £95bn despite reports of a steady decline in contracting with big multi-national companies.

Birmingham City Council renews controversial waste disposal contract
LocalGov | 17 January 2019
Birmingham City Council has approved a controversial waste disposal contract with Veolia, describing it as the ‘best option available’. The decision to go ahead with the deal was blocked earlier in January by the resources scrutiny committee due to concerns that the council was not getting the best value for money.

A Domesday Book for public service contracts – better data, better value for money
TUC | 18 January 2019
New analysis published by the TUC finds that private service firms are getting thousands of pounds a year from every UK household to deliver public services. The TUC believes that publicly owned and accountable services are the best way to meet public interests. But where public services are put out to tender, high standards of transparency, accountability and value for taxpayers must be met. To improve standards, the report proposes a set of actions for government and public service bodies.

Capita appoints new managing director for Local Public Services business
Capita | 21 January 2019
Capita has appointed Simon Freeman to the position of managing director of its restructured and market-leading Local Public Services business. Simon joins from Capita’s Personal Independence Payments business and will be responsible for refocusing on Capita’s core strength in this market of delivering transactional services to local government partners. The business has undergone a significant restructure, and has relaunched this month with a new operating model. A separate dedicated unit within the business to deal with services which are “transitioning back to our clients” will be led by Jonathan Prew who is due to leave the business in 12 months time.

LLG publishes position paper on Brexit
Local Government Lawyer | 16 January 2019
The LLG has provided a statement to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government setting out its position on Brexit and the more prominent legal implications together with an examination of the EU exit more broadly on local government.

Local government outsourcing fell by more than £80m in 2018
LocalGov | 6 February 2019
The total value of outsourcing contracts agreed by councils in 2018 fell by more than £80m in 2018, according to the Arvato UK Outsourcing Index. The Index revealed that local government signed outsourcing contracts worth £176m in 2018, compared to £258m in the previous year.

Coming home: local government insourcing
Public Finance | 6 February 2019
Dominic Brady looks at the slowdown in local government outsourcing and asks if the collapse of Carillion will stop it altogether. The collapse of contracting giant Carillion one year ago sent shockwaves through both the private and public sectors. It was Britain’s second largest construction company, and its liquidation has been named as the “largest ever in the UK”. Creaking under the weight of £1.5bn in debts, Carillion’s demise, according to the National Audit Office, cost the public purse £148m as it picked up 420 abandoned public service contracts – in organisations ranging from schools and hospitals to prisons and the armed forces.

At the policy level, the Carillion story led to a thorough interrogation of the outsourcing model.

London boroughs announce new joint digital strategy
Local Gov | 7 February 2019
Kingston and Sutton councils have announced a new joint digital strategy to help the boroughs become “better connected through technology”.  The strategy is a forward plan until 2021 which lays out improvements in the way residents can make payments online and access their information.

Out of the frying pan, Inter-the fire: Will Interserve’s rescue deal go up in flames?
City A.M. | 10 February 2019
Despite taking two months to thrash out a rescue deal, debt-stricken outsourcer Interserve’s future remains precarious. Where does it go from here? For the last eight weeks, suppliers and investors alike have held their breath, as chiefs at troubled outsourcer Interserve thrashed out a rescue deal with the firm’s lenders. The negotiations were a last-ditch attempt to relieve it from a £650m debt pile, and lift a fog of uncertainty which has been hanging over its 45,000 UK employees since last year. But the moment the plan went live, one influential shareholder rebelled, plunging the firm’s future back into uncertainty.

Interserve boss Dougie Sutherland steps down amid shareholder revolt
City A.M.| 12 February 2019
Interserve director Dougie Sutherland is stepping down with immediate effect amid a bitter dispute over a proposed rescue plan for the outsourcing giant.

Care providers handing back care contracts to councils double in 2018
LocalGov | 12 February
The number of social care providers handing back contracts to councils has more than doubled in 2018 new research commissioned by Hft has revealed.  59% of providers have also been forced to closed down some parts of their organisation due to costs pressures and 7 out of 10 warn they expect to do the same in the near future.

What if there's no Brexit deal?
Commons Library briefing | 8 February
What could happen if the EU and UK negotiators don't agree a withdrawal agreement in time and the UK has to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 without one - and with no framework for future relations either? This paper looks at how such a situation might come about, the constitutional implications for the UK and in some cases for the devolved administrations, and what the impact might be in a range of policy areas.

Spending fairly, spending well
SOLACE Member Policy Briefing | 15 February
In a new report, the Smith Institute calls for a radical rethink about the impact of expenditure and how it is accounted for. It includes a call for new agencies, including an independent Office of the 3Es (effectiveness, efficiency and equity), a change to the remit of the National Audit Office (NAO) and a new Public Interest Appraisal Unit, in order to increase the public’s trust in Whitehall and Westminster’s or local government’s credibility in public expenditure.

Local Brexit impact assessments
SOLACE Member Policy Briefing | 15 February
The Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission has this week published findings and recommendations on the potential impact of Brexit on the borough.  For those who may have missed it, a similarly comprehensive analysis was undertaken in Birmingham and the West Midlands a few months ago.

 

Cases

NHS England's procurement exercise for supply of drugs did not breach duty of equal treatment under Public Contracts Regulations 2015
18 January 2019
In Abbvie Ltd v The NHS Commissioning Board (NHS England) [2019] EWHC 61 (TCC), the High Court dismissed a challenge by Abbvie against its procurement of hepatitis C drugs. Abbvie had challenged NHS England’s procurement process, accusing the regulator of not treating bidders equally.

Developer drops legal action against Haringey
Local Government Chronicle | 6 February 2019 (subscription required)
Lendlease has dropped legal action against Haringey Council over the axed £2bn Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) regeneration scheme. The developer ended its dispute over the joint venture after reaching an undisclosed out-of-court settlement relating to the cancellation of the project.

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Disputes

In the latest update in long-running litigation concerning whether night shift workers are entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for time spent ‘sleeping in’ at work, the Supreme Court has granted permission to appeal against last year’s Court of Appeal decision in Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake. This means the matter will now come before the Supreme Court who will hear whether the practice of paying the NMW to workers for time while they are asleep is correct.

Last year the Court of Appeal delivered a landmark ruling and found that only time spent awake and working should be included in the calculation of NMW payments. This is because this time falls into an exclusion in Regulation 32 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, which specifies that the NMW is only payable during hours when the worker is awake for the purpose of working, even if facilities for sleeping are provided by the employer.

Sources suggest that an estimated 655,000 individuals are employed in residential adult social care in England alone. As a major provider of adult social care services with statutory duties to meet the needs of persons with care needs in their areas, the appeal to the Supreme Court will address a point of considerable importance to local authorities. The Supreme Court’s decision could affect hundreds of thousands of low-paid individuals and the SC’s judgment is awaited with interest.

On a separate note, seven authorities are pursuing legal action against Barclays Bank alleging that interest rates on a number of lender option borrower loans or ‘LOBOs’ were fraudulently set because the Bank had implied that it was not manipulating the LIBOR rate, and that the authorities should be allowed to exit the loans without being penalised given the finding by UK and US regulators in 2012 that the Bank had been involved in the interest rate-setting scandal. 

 

News

Royal borough launches judicial review challenge over call-in decision by Mayor
Local Government Lawyer | 18 January 2019
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea has launched a judicial review challenge over the Mayor of London’s decision to call in plans for a major redevelopment of a hotel. In a statement the council said: “We are hugely disappointed that the Mayor has decided to intervene, especially as we are working with him to build over 600 new homes in the borough at a cost of more than £35m.“The local democratic process has spoken, with local residents and councillors overwhelmingly against the proposals. There is anger in our community, so will continue to look at all legal options.”

Borough council in judicial review challenge over delays to Local Plan  
Local Government Lawyer | 1 February 2019
Stevenage Borough Council has launched a judicial review challenge over the temporary holding direction of its Local Plan. The Stevenage Borough Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 21 July 2016 and received a positive inspector’s report in October 2017 recommending its adoption. The council said that following the imposition of the holding direction, it had provided detailed information to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) with all questions responded to by the start of last year.

Seven councils in legal action against major bank over LOBO loans
Local Government Lawyer | 6 February 2019
Seven councils are taking legal action against Barclays Bank over claims that they were mis-sold loans worth more than £500m.Those involved are: Leeds, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Newcastle, North East Lincolnshire, Nottingham, Oldham and Sheffield. The councils want the High Court to allow them to exit LOBO loans without penalties.

Developer drops legal action against Haringey
Local Government Chronicle | 6 February 2019 (subscription required)
Lendlease has dropped legal action against Haringey Council over the axed £2bn Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) regeneration scheme. The developer ended its dispute over the joint venture after reaching an undisclosed out-of-court settlement relating to the cancellation of the project.

 

Cases

Council secures order requiring ex-directors of football club to repay £2m+
Local Government Lawyer | 25 January 2019
Northampton Borough Council has secured a High Court ruling requiring former directors of Northampton Town Football Club to repay more than £2m. The local authority had loaned more than £10m to the club to help with a stadium redevelopment but the scheme was never completed. Northampton Borough Council v Cardoza & Ors [2019] EWHC 26

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Forthcoming Events

Employment seminar: the impact of Brexit on workforce
Wednesday 27 March, Birmingham
Join Bevan Brittan and Hays Recruitment to discuss the key issues affecting the workforce in relation to Brexit. This event is aimed at Senior HR professionals, In-House Counsel, Workforce Planners and those involved in strategic employment issues.

 

Are you going MIPIM? This year Matthew Waters, Rebecca Pendlebury and Lyndon Campbell will be attending this renowned international property event, and look forward to seeing you in Cannes.

 

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[1]              Commission Regulation (651 / 2014 / EU) of 17 June 2014

[2]              C-30/87 Bodson [1988].