23/01/2019

LA Spotlight

Well, who thought it would come to this? Brexit: no Brexit: no deal: not Theresa’s deal: article 50 extension; a People’s Vote? The future remains opaque with fascinating constitutional issues involved in Parliamentary democracy but not much control being taken in Westminster. In the meantime, we know that domestic policy is continuing to suffer with little time for civil servant, Ministers or Parliament to move ahead on many of the problems local government are dealing with and are seeking solutions for. It is grim on the ground.

A number of policy initiatives and reports have been issued in recent weeks that are flagged in this Edition. One that is of interest picks on a wider theme that does not perhaps receive the attention it deserves, and many argue it needs. The Government has published its Clean Air Strategy 2019 new strategy. Regardless of one’s views on the content, its scope and range of solutions there are two points of note. On the wider agenda it is good to see some recognition of the wider agenda linked to climate change; decarbonisation; pollution in all its forms; waste; and the cost to citizen’s lives and impacts on communities and the financial impacts. We are involved in many projects that directly or indirectly seek to recognise these issues from health and service delivery; to renewable energy; to transport investment; housing and planning policy. The Millennial generation regard this as the single most important issue (and not the rise of Extinction Rebellion) and at local level we are seeing increasing recognition of the need for services, works and procurements to consider the impact. But local government cannot work alone.

However, the strategy contains another burden on local government with a proposal to create “lead” authorities to take responsibility for tackling air pollution. On the ground some are starting to try, but in these terms the strategy does not go far enough. We expect to return to this broad theme that increasingly touches all our lives, the services being provided and the way and quality of life. Local government has a huge role to play beyond the outlines in this year’s strategy.

 

 

Commercialisation

Whilst the uncertainty over Brexit continues in the run up to the impending deadline, what is clear is that the political and economic climate during this calendar is set to bring significant changes in the approach to commercialisation and public procurement. We have already seen a move towards services being brought in house in some sectors with more stringent controls being exerted over local authority spending (link to the article below Ministers play down commercialisation “crackdown”).

Bevan Brittan has brought together its expert legal and regulatory services advising on Brexit-related issues to create a new advisory service and information hub through which clients can access support and advice through which we have already provided advice and briefings to many businesses and public sector organisations and the Brexit Advisory service team, led by Adam Kendall, Head of Litigation.

Innovative contracting and partnership working will continue to play a critical role in the absence of substantive measures to tackle the funding gap across the board including in health and social care. As the pressure in adult and social care spending comes under scrutiny, there is little of substance to address the financial burden in the NHS Long Term Plan.

At the same time as substantive political developments, there are changes afoot in the legislative framework around social care as the June deadline for transition from statutory safeguarding boards to partners is approaching.

 

Publications & Guidance

Public Health Ring-Fenced Grant 2019/20 circular
Local Authority Circular LAC (DHSC) (2018) 2
Department of Health & Social Care | 20 December 2018
In the financial year ending 2020 local authorities are due to receive a £3.134 billion public health grant for their public health duties for all ages. This local authority circular sets out the allocations and conditions for using the grant.

The lives we want to live: the LGA green paper for adult social care and wellbeing
Local Government Association | 02 January 2019
When the Government announced in June that its care and support green paper would be further delayed until the autumn, the LGA decided to publish their own green paper for adult social care and wellbeing.

This report outlines the findings of this consultation and their implications for social care, and sets out fourteen recommendations to the Government from the consultation for achieving two key objectives: stabilising and sustaining the here and now; and moving towards a system that we know could be better.

Children’s social care providers: fees and frequency of inspections regulations
Department for Education | 07 January 2019
The aim of this consultation is to seek views of key stakeholders on proposed changes to the Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) (Children’s Homes etc.) Regulations 2015. The proposed changes are a 10% increase on current fees, for those settings where fees are not already at full cost recovery. The consultation will close on 18 February 2019.

Local auditor reporting in England 2018
NAO | 10 January 2019
The number of NHS and local government bodies with significant weaknesses in their arrangements for delivering value for money for taxpayers is unacceptably high and increasing, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

 

News

Finance settlement: Government floats commercialisation crackdown
MJ | December 13 2018 (Subscription only)
The Government is considering a crackdown on councils that excessively borrow for commercial reasons as it continues to restrict council tax rises

Council chiefs call for “emergency cash” to support children with special needs
LocalGov | 17 December 2018
Education Secretary Damian Hinds has announced that councils will receive an extra £250m over the next two years on top of the £6bn that was provided in the 2018 budget. He said a further £100m would create more specialist places in mainstream schools, colleges and special schools.
Council leaders warned that an emergency cash injection was needed to close a potential funding gap of up to £1.6bn over the next two years, and the Local Government Association (LGA) forecast that the current funding deficit could double to £806m next year and could continue to rise

Councils could withdraw from providing asylum seeker accommodation, MPs warn
PublicFinance | 19 December 2018
MPs have warned that local authorities might withdraw from providing asylum accommodation as they take on a “disproportionate share” of responsibilities with little support. As well as housing, local authorities must also provide public services, e.g. safeguarding and education, and manage the effect on the wider community.

Without additional funding, many council services could face further cuts beyond 2020 as local tax revenues unlikely to keep pace with rising spending pressures
Institute for Fiscal Studies | 20 December 2018
Discusses the government consultation on its plans for a national 75% business rate retention from 2020-21. This observation highlights two welcome proposals in the consultation that will make the system fairer and more effective. However, it also shows that the funding from local taxes available in the new system is unlikely to keep pace with rising spending pressures in coming years. Without additional funding sources, many services could see cuts into the 2020s and beyond.

CIPFA has identified up to 15% of councils in England are at risk of financial instability, through refining its resilience index
PublicFinance | 21 December 2018

CIPFA’s indicators include:
• Reserves depletion time
• Level of reserves
• Changes of reserves
• Council budget flexibility
• Council tax to net revenue expenditure

After applying these indicators, CIPFA found that the majority of councils in England were financially stable but 10% to 15% were not.

Councils warn of impact of public health funding cuts
LocalGov | 21 December 2018
Councils have reacted angrily to “short-sighted” cuts to public spending funding by the Government. Chairman of the LGA's community wellbeing board, Councilor Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: ‘Cutting the public health budget is incredibly short-sighted and will undermine our ability to improve the public’s health, and to keep the pressure off the NHS and social care.

Brokenshire calls for more cash for councils to deal with no-deal Brexit
Public Finance | 02 January 2019
The Communities Secretary has warned that councils must be given more money for a no-deal Brexit. He has raised fears over an “increased risk of disruption” and possible civil unrest for local authorities in a no-deal scenario.

LGA responds to NHS Long Term Plan
Local Government Association | 07 Jan 2019
The LGA are pleased the NHS Long Term Plan sets out an ambition to build a new service model for the 21st century with health bodies working in partnership with local government. “However they believe that the ambition set out can only be fully realised if adult social care and public health services in councils are also properly funded.

They describe the plan as a missed opportunity for the Government to also launch its long-awaited adult social care green paper and proposals for the sustainable funding of these services.

Warning long-term plan could fail if funding gap remains
LGC Local Government Chronicle | 07 January 2019
Regarding the NHS long-term care plan, councils have welcomed the focus on prevention, early support, reducing health inequalities and investment in mental health services. However, they say that the government must address the huge funding gap in adult social care and reverse reductions in public health grants.

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 will consider whether or not any further interventions will be required to slow the commercialisation trend. This trend has led to councils spending £4.1bn on commercial property over the past four years.

Local authorities were reminded that children will suffer if independent reviewing offices are prevented from performing their statutory role.
Bailli | November 2018 | [2018] EWFC 72
In the case of County of Herefordshire District Council and A and B (by her Children’s Guardian) and C, the local authority did not apply to revoke placement orders for two children, A and B, which were originally made in 2008, after their care plan changed in 2009 to long-term fostering. The independent reviewing officers (IROs), who were responsible for ensuring A and B's care plans were in their interests, did not take any action until 2017. A Human Rights Act 1998 claim was settled, with the LA paying damages and admitting breaches of A and B's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Cases

Local authorities were reminded that children will suffer if independent reviewing offices are prevented from performing their statutory role.
Bailli | November 2018 | [2018] EWFC 72
In the case of County of Herefordshire District Council and A and B (by her Children’s Guardian) and C, the local authority did not apply to revoke placement orders for two children, A and B, which were originally made in 2008, after their care plan changed in 2009 to long-term fostering. The independent reviewing officers (IROs), who were responsible for ensuring A and B's care plans were in their interests, did not take any action until 2017. A Human Rights Act 1998 claim was settled, with the LA paying damages and admitting breaches of A and B's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Place & Growth

The Future Place programme has been launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), Local Government Association (LGA) and Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). It is inviting local authorities to set out their overarching vision for an area and explain how they are working across their programmes to deliver the ambitions of the local authority by creating great places. Joint submissions from adjoining local authorities within strategic planning areas are encouraged and the organisers would like to see diversity in the range of places, administrations and contexts. 

Up to five teams will be selected at MIPIM, as part of the governments Inward Investment Programme, receiving international coverage. Those teams must then appoint two future leaders from within their Council (and/or one of their partners) to take part in the second Phase, Future Place Makers. The intention is that the programme will help those future place makers achieve their place making vision by promoting best practice and the potential of innovative delivery, design and funding models, cross-sector collaborations capacity building, and knowledge sharing at a local level.

 

Legislation

Local Government (Structural and Boundary Changes) (Amendment) Regulations 2018/1296
These amendment regulations, which come into force on 2 January 2019, are made under section 14 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
The government has introduced a range of powers for local authorities to enable them to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and agents who let unfit properties. This includes fixed financial penalties of up to £30,000 and banning orders – possibly for life – for the most serious offenders

 

Publications & Guidance

Houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing reform: guidance for local housing authorities
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government updated 20 December 2018
On 1 October 2018 mandatory licensing of HMOs was extended so that smaller properties used as HMOs in England which house 5 people or more in 2 or more separate households will in many cases require a licence.  New mandatory conditions to be included in licences have also been introduced, prescribing national minimum sizes for rooms used as sleeping accommodation and requiring landlords to adhere to council refuse schemes.

Physical activity: encouraging activity in the general population through design
NICE (National Institute for Health and care Excellence) has published guidelines, recommending that new and upgraded roads should prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport over motorised vehicles. The documents are open for comments until 01 February 2019.

National local growth assurance framework
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 08 January 2019
This framework sets out government’s guidance for places that are required to develop their own local assurance framework.

It applies to Mayoral Combined Authorities with a Single Pot and Local Enterprise Partnerships. It replaces the previous Local Enterprise Partnership national assurance framework and the Single Pot assurance framework and seeks to provide a common framework of understanding of the assurance required for local growth funding.

Commission outlines need for more than three million new social homes
Shelter’s independent social housing commission | January 2019
The commission which was set up following the Grenfell Tower fire, has called on the Government to invest in a major 20-year housebuilding programme. This includes 1.27 million homes for those in the greatest housing needs, 1.17 million homes for ‘trapped renters’ and 690,000 homes for older private renters. The cost is estimated at £10.7bn a year during the construction phase, but two-thirds of this could be recouped via housing benefit savings and increased tax revenue each year.

 

News

The High Street Report
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 20 December 2018
This report contains the recommendations of the High Streets Expert Panel which was established by the High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP in July 2018.  The panel, chaired by Sir John Timpson, were asked to diagnose the issues facing our high streets and town centres. They were then asked to advise on the best practical measures that central government can take to help.

The panel’s recommendations cover 3 areas: the Town Centre Task Force; the Future High Streets Fund; and short term measures to help high streets and town centres.

Future High Street Fund: call for proposals
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 26 December 2018
The Future High Streets Fund is an essential part of the Government’s plan for the High Street, providing co-funding towards capital projects that bring transformative change. The aim is the regeneration of town centres through innovative proposals around transport, housing delivery and public services.
The Fund will operate as a two-stage application process.  Local authorities are invited to submit Expressions of Interest for Phase 1 of the fund by 22 March 2019 setting out their challenges and strategic approach to regenerating town centres. 

James Brokenshire announces £5m for new network of rough sleeping hubs
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 18 December 2018
11 Somewhere to Stay centres will be set up across the country, as part of the Government’s £100 million Rough Sleeping Strategy. It builds on the first year of the Rough Sleeping Initiative, launched in March 2018, which will provide £64 million to over 80 councils over the next 2 years to support rough sleepers in their area.

London Councils forms company to tackle homelessness
LocalGov | 02 January 2019
11 London boroughs have signed up to a scheme to create a not-for-profit company to provide housing for homeless families. The new company will deliver the £38m “Capital letters” programme by taking on management of homes provided by the member boroughs. Over the next three years, the scheme is expected to house more than 35,000 households within Greater London.

Birmingham approves 1,400 homes for Commonwealth Games
LocalGov | William Eicher | 21 December2018
The council has approved plans to build accommodation to house 6,500athletes during the 2022 Games. This is part of a wider regeneration project which will provide around 1,400 new homes. Following the Games, the properties will be converted to provide a range of tenures, including social and affordable rent, houses for sale and private rent. The development will also include a retirement village and a community centre.

Local councils heading for fracking showdown with government
The Guardian | 04 Jan 2019
The 10 local authorities that make up Greater Manchester intend to put planning measures in place to create a “presumption” against fracking for shale gas, said the area’s mayor, Andy Burnham, as part of its effort to become carbon neutral by 2038.
The announcement, which comes as London finalises a similar scheme, will amplify discontent among local councils – including Tory-controlled authorities – that experts said could lead to a showdown with central government, and potentially kill off ministers’ plans. Sadiq Khan, London’s city mayor, has said that he would throw out all fracking proposals, as part of a “climate emergency”.

Burnham launches plan to make Greater Manchester an “ambitious hub”
LocalGov | 07 January 2019
Mayor Andy Burnham has relaunched an amended version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, designed to showcase the region as “a confident, ambitious hub”. The new plan sets a minimum target of 50,000 additional affordable home, of which 30,000 will be social housing. The plan emphasises the importance of redeveloping brownfield sites, rather than green belt land, and reiterated Manchester’s opposition to fracking.

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Governance & Reorganisation

A “relatively” quiet period since our last edition (if you ignore everything Brexit related of course) and a new year which although carries with it great uncertainty, promises to include a variety of challenges and opportunities in equal measure. Councils will be carefully looking at budgets following the publication of the provisional local government settlement, and continuing to consider innovative ways of delivering services and reducing costs, including opportunities for savings and efficiency through collaboration and reorganisation. At the centre of successful innovation and change lies good governance, and we continue to successfully assist various councils in this respect.

 

Legislation

The Local Government (Structural and Boundary Changes) (Amendment) (Regulations) 2018
legislation.gov.uk | 2 January 2019
These Regulations are made under section 14 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and amend previous regulations concerning functions relating to local government structural and boundary changes.

 

Consultation

ICO consultation on access to information strategy
Information Commissioner’s Office | 15 January 2019
The ICO have launched a consultation on their draft access to information strategy which remains open until Friday 8 March 2019. The strategy proposes to increase openness and transparency in public authorities, and to more effectively deal with non-compliance and systemic failings. The strategy also seeks to promote the reform of access to information legislation, making specific reference to a “transparency gap’ resulting from changes in the way that public services are commissioned, and forthcoming recommendations to Parliament to increase the scope of the FOIA.

Publications & Guidance

Provisional local government settlement: England, 2019 to 2020
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 13 December 2018
This collection brings together all documents relating to the provisional local government finance settlement: England, 2019 to 2020. It also includes the consultation document, which outlines the government’s approach in allocating funding for the local government finance settlement and seeks views by 10 January 2019.The final settlement will be laid before the House of Commons in early 2019.

CIPFA releases briefing on Financial Resilience Index
Charted Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy | 20 December 2018
Indicators now used in the Index include ‘reserves depletion time’, ‘level of reserves’, ‘change of reserves’, ‘council budget flexibility’, and ‘council tax to net revenue expenditure’. 
These measures showed the majority of councils are in a stable financial position, and are not showing signs of financial failure in spite of managing severe budget cuts. Clearly this shows effective financial management against a challenging context.
However, there is a tail, of 10-15% of councils, where there are some signs of potential risk to their financial stability. Having now provided data, CIPFA will discuss professional support for CFO’s in those authorities.

Reviewing and reforming local government finance
House of Commons Library, Briefing Paper | 20 December 2018
This note covers matters of current interest in local government finance: how business rate retention works; the Government’s proposals for changes to the system; and the Government’s Fair Funding Review. The policies covered in this note have effect in England only.

 

News

James Brokenshire announces locations of UK’s first manufacturing Zones in the East Midlands
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | 3 January 2018
Four projects, involved in the space industry, food sector, and the development of HS2, will form the new and innovative East Midlands Manufacturing Zones, Communities Secretary Rt. Hon James Brokenshire MP announced today (3 January 2019).
Melton Mowbray, Space Park Leicester, and areas across North Derbyshire and Greater Lincolnshire will together benefit from a total of £500,000 funding to develop their plans.

Corby calls for delay in Northants reorganisation
LocalGov | 08 January 2019
Corby BC has claimed that there is not enough time to reorganise Northamptonshire’s public services. Corby has called for the creation of the two unitary councils to be postponed until 2023 with a phased transition of services until then.

More than a third of councils face financial failure
LocalGov | 08 January 2019
A new analysis by Grant Thornton has found that more than a third of English councils are at risk of financial failure in the next decade, with one fifth likely to reach breaking point in the next three years. The London boroughs are seen as the most vulnerable, with 78% (25) forecast to crash by 2028.

Councils to save £90,000 by sharing top staff
LocalGov | 10 January 2019
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councils have confirmed plans to share more of their top personnel in order to make efficiency savings. These changes are set to deliver savings of £90,000 across both councils, as well as added benefits of streamlined working.

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Contract Management

2019 looks set to provide significant challenges and opportunities within local authority and beyond.  Notwithstanding what a no-deal Brexit may look like, there will be changes in the year ahead, as a minimum through the way in which procurements are advertised, to the language that is used in documents and references to EU law.  As the government and other organisations prepare for the changes ahead, more guidance has been published on the outcome for public procurement policy and spending habits in the public sector.

There is already a steady decline in local government contracting to the big private sector companies, with a move towards bringing services back in house, reflecting the nervousness after the growing financial instability in the market place over the past year.  However, public bodies remain under pressure to cut costs and improve the services they provide and many authorities are looking to technology to produce reduced energy costs and to enable the upgrade of existing assets (Smart Buildings as a Service).

 

Publications & Guidance

Procurement: Institute for Government report, “Government procurement – The Scale and Nature of contracting in the UK”
Susie Smith | Bevan Brittan | 20 December 2018
Analysis of the IFG report, published 12 December 2018. The report looks at spend by central government departments, the NHS and other public sector organisations, including local authorities. It seeks to answer some central questions about government spending with the private and voluntary sector. The key findings included:
• The UK’s procurement spending is not high by international standards
• The proportion of published procurement spending going to strategic suppliers – companies that receive over £100 million in revenue per year from government contracts – has grown over the past five years, yet some of the top strategic suppliers have experienced financial difficulties
• Some government departments are beginning to take greater control of aspects of their IT.

Public-Sector Procurement after a no-deal Brexit
Cabinet Office | Jan 14, 2019
The Cabinet Office has published guidance in the form of Public-sector procurement after a no-deal Brexit and Public-sector procurement under the EU Withdrawal Agreement for public authorities, business and other organisations on the outcome for public procurement policy in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

NAO publish report on local authority governance and spending
National Audit Office | Jan 15, 2019
The NAO have published their report on whether local governance arrangements provide assurance that local authority spending achieves value and authorities are financial sustainable.  The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s response can be read here.

 

News

IFG research: one third of government spending on contractors
PublicFinance | Dec 12, 2018
A report showed that the following departments spent more than half their entire budgets with external suppliers. These were the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Transport, the Department for International Trade and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This was deemed to be a “risky” trend as the government’s top 3 suppliers have experienced financial difficulties recently.

Amey set to go private
LocalGov | December 13, 2018
It has been reported that roads and services contractor Amey could be sold to a private equity firm in the New Year. Despite recent setback, including losing a legal battle over its 25 year Birmingham PFI deal, Amey recently secured major contracts in Highways England’s Area 10 worth a combined £375m as well as a place on the strategic road operator’s Regional Delivery Partnership framework.

VolkerHighways to bring Bath up to date with £70m deal.
LocalGov | 18 December 2018
VolkerHighways is set to deploy the latest technologies on a new highway maintenance and improvements contract with Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Council worth up to £70m over 10 years.

Birmingham “ran out of time” to re-procure waste contract
LCG Local Government Chronicle | 20 December 2018
Birmingham City Council has been criticised for extending its 25-year waste contract with Veolia, in order to have more time to go through the procurement process.

Barnet expected to insource two Capita services
MJ | 21 December 2018 [Subscription service]
Councillors have voted to transfer Barnet’s finance and strategic HR services back to the council by April, subject to a consultation with residents.

Council seeks residents’ views on Capita contracts
Council press release | 21 December 2018
The Leader of the Council at Barnet said that both contracts had delivered significant financial benefits, but that there had been various issues in respect of overall services performance across the two contracts, which had to be addressed. The consultation runs until 15 February 2019.

Cambridge City Council to bring cultural services back in-house
LocalGov | 24 December 2018
Cambridge City Council will take back the provision of cultural services which have previously been provided by the Cambridge Live charity. The charity is unable to meet its financial targets, and the city council believes that it will be in the best interests of residents, staff and customers for the authority to take direct control of all activity covered by the current contract.

Brexit ferry contract open to legal challenge
Emily Heard | Bevan Brittan | 4 January 2019
Analysis of the Department for Transport’s decision to award three contracts for additional shipping freight capacity, required in the event of a no-deal Brexit, direct to providers without running an open EU competitive process.

It remains the case that there is now a challenge period during which a disgruntled rival operator could bring a claim against the DfT in respect of the ferry contracts (and indeed it may be possible for an interested party to judicially review).
The time periods for doing so are however short, and it is quite possible that no further right to challenge will arise in respect of these contracts if and when they are fully implemented on or around March 29.

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Disputes

Following a controversial High Court decision in August 2017, the Court of Appeal has upheld the lawfulness of Ofsted’s complaints policy when a school is judged to be causing concern (i.e. requiring special measures or significant improvement). In an era of forced academisation, such an outcome can have significant financial and political implications for the future governance of schools and the resources that local authorities will need to commit.

In R (Durand Academy Trust) v Ofsted [2017] EWHC 2097 (Admin) the High Court quashed a report in which Ofsted had judged Durand Academy to be inadequate and recommended that it be placed into special measures. The school initially brought a successful challenge against the report, in which the High Court found that Ofsted’s complaints policy was not a rational or fair process as it did not permit a substantive challenge to a report where the school has been judged to be causing concern.

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal (R (Durand Academy Trust v Ofsted [2018] EWCA Civ 2813) disagreed and ruled that Ofsted’s overall process was fair when considered in its entirety. In particular, the Court of Appeal referred to additional safeguards which applied where a school was judged to be causing concern, including:

  • If it appears during the first day of an inspection that the school may be inadequate and causing concern, the lead inspector must contact Ofsted’s regional duty desk and be able to explain the reasons and underpinning evidence for that judgement. The school must be informed in an oral feedback meeting at the end of the inspection that it is deemed to require special measures or has serious weaknesses;
  • A judgement that a school has caused concern must be confirmed by HM Chief Inspector, or a Regional Director on her behalf; and
  • HM Chief Inspector is required by section 13 of the Education Act 2005 to: (i) send a draft report to the governing body of a maintained school if she considers that the school has caused concern, and consider any comments received within 5 days; and (ii) give notice in writing to the Secretary of State and the relevant local education authority that she considers the school has caused concern if her opinion is unchanged after considered those comments. Ofsted’s timescale for publishing reports is extended where schools are judged to have caused concern so that judgements can be moderated in this way.

Section 4(A1) of the Academies Act 2010 requires the Secretary of State to make an Academy Order in respect of a maintained school that is eligible for intervention due to it requiring significant improvement or special measures. In such cases local authorities will need to work towards the conversion and help any sponsor take responsibility for the school. In this contentious policy area authorities should take note of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and ensure that maintained schools within its area are properly engaged with Ofsted’s moderation process in order to avoid disputes following the publication of reports.

Also this month, the National Audit Office has again raised concerns about local authority governance and audit.  In its latest report – Local Authority Governance, the spending watchdog has said that the government should improve its oversight of the local governance system, be more transparent in its engagement with the sector, and adopt a stronger leadership role across the governance network, in the face of ongoing financial pressure.

 

News

Families officially launch legal challenge over SEN funding policy
Local Government Lawyer | 20 December 2018
Three families have applied to the High Court to ask for permission to challenge the government over how it provides funding to local authorities. The belief is that current government grants are leaving councils without sufficient money to fulfil their legal obligation of providing care for disabled pupils.

Council to keep day centre open after user brings legal proceedings
Local Government Lawyer | 17 December 2018
Birmingham City Council has decided to keep a day centre for vulnerable adults open, after campaigners had threatened legal action over an earlier decision to close the facility.

Norse Group slumps to £2m loss following a costly legal battle with Haringey LBC
MJ 04 January 2019 [subscription only]
The Group’s accounts state: ‘In addition to tough trading conditions, the group has had to absorb significant costs in settling a long-running legal dispute with Haringey Council regarding cost overruns on a school building project. This dispute has had an impact on profits for the last three years, through both staff time and legal fees.’  Norse Group is owned by Norfolk CC and runs 35 joint ventures with 30 local authorities, covering the care home, property consultancy and commercial services sectors.

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Forthcoming Events

MIPIM, 12-15 March 2019, Palais de Festivals, Cannes, France
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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