27/06/2019

LA Spotlight

Is it time to consider a broader commission strategy?
Local elections; European elections; bye-elections; a new Conservative Party leader and PM and a reconstituted cabinet; Brexit or not; no sign of a Comprehensive Spending Review; climate change emergency declarations. There is no end to major and potentially seismic changes and upheaval in the UK, all and any of which can have significant impact on the work of local government. However, some things in local government do not change and the distraction of Westminster continues to create a space for delivery and some forms of innovation. We just “need to get on with the job”.

Whilst it is clear is that local government is not wasting the opportunity that the absence of central government provides, the job has, it seems, an increasing number of wider objectives.  

There are a range of major policy objectives and the challenge is how to ensure these can be met. We are involved with councils seeking to better deliver: inclusive growth; cohesion and integration for communities; addressing the decarbonisation agenda; ensuring the Local Industrial Strategy can be grounded in the activities of local government and the wider public sector; the need for a joined up approach to children’s services and social care; and there are others.

An issue we are exploring is how might a council instigate and put in place a broader Commissioning Strategy that ensures everything it does has a requirement to deliver on its wider objectives. This is more than a procurement strategy that seeks to deliver social value. It is the next step on an integrated approach that may bring delivery into everything it does.

Whilst strategic calls go out, such as the northern press declaring and demanding more devolution to the new SOLACE lead, Martin Swales, pushing for a more sustainable financial funding arrangement, local government can continue to innovate and seek to support its known and long-term aims. The development of a Social Outcomes Commissioning Strategy may be one tool to add.

 

 

Commercialisation

Local Government Insurance
This month we participated in the LGA conference for insurance and risk. The aim of the event was to discuss recent developments within the local government insurance sector in light of the launch of the Local Government Mutual (LGM) and its offering of an alternative to traditional local government insurance.

Local government is always looking for innovations that can improve the ways in which councils serve their communities within even tighter budgets, and LGM was born from this premise. Fourteen founding councils, along with the LGA, joined forces to establish LGM with the aim of offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional insurance products and services. Governed and led by its local authority members, the mutual sets out to use existing local government capabilities and resources more effectively to manage and reduce the cost of risk, whilst continuing to work with the insurance market to procure cost-effective risk transfer cover for large losses.

LGM is very clear that losses from retained claims – those which are not large enough in value to spike through to insurers – are the most significant claims cost local government faces. Its approach to reducing the Total Cost of Risk by continuing to work with insurers but manage its own financial exposures with greater care and attention, is exactly what Bevan Brittan, which works with a wide range of local authorities on claims litigation, seeks to support authorities to do.

 

Publications & Guidance

Local Authority Capital Expenditure and Financing in England: 2019 to 2020 individual authority date forecast
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | June 13, 2019
National Statistics release of data compiling the forecast estimates of local authority capital expenditure and financing for 2019 to 2020.

Debate on high streets and town centres in 2030
Local Government Association | June 10, 2019
This LGA briefing was prepared in advance of a House of Commons debate on 13 June.  The briefing welcomes the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee’s recommendation that the business rates system needs to be modernised to ensure online business make a fair contribution.

Brexit and local government: response to the HCLG Select Committee report
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government | June 3, 2019
Following its inquiry into Brexit and local government, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee published a report setting out ten recommendations for government.  This document sets out the government’s response to these recommendations.

The health effects of Sure Start
Institute for Fiscal Studies | June 3, 2019
This report finds that Sure Start significantly reduced hospitalisations among children and benefits children living in disadvantaged areas most.  Given this evidence of major health benefits for children in poorer neighbourhoods, the report asks whether the current level of cuts to Sure Start’s budget are appropriate.

Local Government Business Rates Pilots: Guidance Error
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government | May 31, 2019
A letter from Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary, to Sir Amyas Morse at the National Audit Office, outlining a further technical error in the guidance notes for business rates pilots, which will result in special payments to some local authorities.

Public Value: How can it be measured, managed and grown?
Nesta | May 31, 2019
This paper brings together views from Nesta on better ways of mapping and measuring public value.  The aim in this work is to make value more transparent and more open to interrogation, whether that concerns libraries, bicycle lanes, museums, primary health services or training programmes for the unemployed.

English council funding: what’s happened and what’s next?
Institute for Fiscal Studies | May 29, 2019
Current plans for councils to rely on council tax and business rates for the vast bulk of their funding do not look compatible with expectations of what councils should provide. A proper national debate on how much we are willing to pay and what we expect of councils is needed.

The real cost of a fair adult social care system
The Health Foundation | May 29, 2019
This analysis shows that there will be a social care funding gap of £4.4bn in England in 2023/24 to meet rising demand and address critical staffing shortages in the sector.  Highlighted concerns include reduced funding, poor pay and conditions, and a widening gap between spend in England compared to Scotland and Wales.

Social care: Free at the point of need - The case for free personal care in England
IPPR | May 23, 2019
This paper looks to set out what a bold and comprehensive reform package would look like – building on the recent proposals set out as part of IPPR’s Lord Darzi Review – in the run up to this government intervention. 

Schools staying with their council more likely to remain good/outstanding
Local Government Association | May 23, 2019
This report looks at how primary and secondary schools’ Ofsted grades have fared over the past five years, comparing those which remained council-maintained to those that academised.  It found that schools which remain with their council are more likely to keep a good or outstanding Ofsted rating than those which become an academy, and schools that were rated as requires improvement or inadequate were more likely to become good or outstanding if they remained council-maintained and did not convert to an academy.

Independent review of local government spending need and funding
PwC for the County Councils Network | May 22, 2019
An independent analysis of councils’ financial sustainability up to 2025 from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) for the County Councils Network (CCN) has found that rising demand for services and rising costs, driven in part by inflation, could contribute to councils needing an additional £51.8bn of funding over the period 2019-2025.

Visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
United Nations | May 22, 2019
The summary of Philip Alston’s report states: “The social safety net has been badly damaged by drastic cuts to local authorities’ budgets, which have eliminated many social services, reduced policing services, closed libraries in record numbers, shrunk community and youth centres and sold off public spaces and buildings.”

Bus Services in England outside London
Transport Select Committee | May 22, 2019
A lack of co-ordinated Government policy and squeezed funding for local authorities is driving bus use into decline, says the Transport Committee.  The Committee calls on Government to bring forward a national bus strategy by the end of 2020.

Front and Centre - Putting Social Value at the Heart of Inclusive Growth
Social Enterprise UK | May 21, 2019
Local councils are increasingly using procurement as a way to drive higher economic growth.  The report calls on central government, local councils and other public bodies to do more to utilise social value, putting it front and centre of decision making.  The report also asks for more support to be given to local councils to measure and report on the value that they are creating, so that there is a consistent pressure to drive better performance.

21st Century Social Care
Policy Exchange | May 21, 2019
This research paper explores the nature and extent of the serious and urgent problems affecting the provision of social care in the UK.  It identifies how these problems have evolved from the institutional structures developed for providing health and social care and offers proposals for complex, long-term social care in England.

Local government: alternative models of service delivery
House of Commons Library | May 17, 2019
This briefing paper explains new forms of service delivery being implemented by local authorities, including shared services, outsourcing, 'insourcing', local authority trading companies and mutuals.

Who are they?  Where are they? Children locked up
Children’s Commissioner | May 16, 2019
1,465 children in England were securely detained in March 2018, at an estimated cost of over £300 million a year.  This report calls on government to have proper oversight and accountability for vulnerable ‘locked up’ children, to ensure that they are not overlooked or forgotten.

Taking ownership: Community empowerment through crowd-funding investment
Nesta | May 14, 2019
This report explores how investment crowdfunding models can be used to fund projects which are owned and run by the communities they serve, enabling community-led regeneration and boosting local resilience. 

 

News

Urgent call for £1bn a year to reverse cuts to public health funding
The Health Foundation, The King’s Fund | June 12, 2019
Two leading health charities say that the government must make a clear and urgent commitment to restoring £1bn of real-terms per head cuts to the public health grant which enables local authorities to deliver vital preventative services that protect and improve health.  With the government’s spending review, which was expected to outline long-term funding for the public health grant, likely to be delayed, the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund say that government cannot continue to put off decisions on public health funding and must signal its intention to restoring cuts and ensuring there are no further reductions in funding.

Revised direction issued to Northamptonshire county council
Department for Education | June 10, 2019
A revised statutory direction has been issued to Northamptonshire county council due to continued poor performance in children's social care services.  The council is required to take steps to improve its children’s social care services, including co-operating with the Department for Education’s (DfE) appointed Children’s Services Commissioner, to establish a Children’s Services Trust.

Government review confirms local authorities will continue to commission public health services
Department of Health and Social Care – news story | June 7, 2019
A DHSC departmental review recommends that councils and the NHS work more closely to co-commission public health services, including sexual and reproductive health services.

Business rates system ‘is outdated’
Public Finance | June 6, 2019
The chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit tells the housing, communities and local government committee that councils’ increasing reliance on business rates is a “20th century solution”.

Accessing key drivers for partnership working
The MJ (subscription only) | June 5, 2019
An MJ/Serco survey of local authority chief executives details the challenges and priorities in delivering improved services, as well as the drivers in engaging private sector partners.

SEND crisis: 130 extra children with special needs being supported by councils every day
Local Government Association | June 5, 2019
More than 130 extra children and young people with special needs are being supported by councils every day, new figures reveal, prompting calls for government funding to tackle a growing “national special needs emergency”.

Committee examines financial impact of Waste Strategy
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee | June 4, 2019
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee continues its inquiry into the implications of the waste strategy for local authorities as it takes evidence from witnesses including waste management experts and local government representatives.  The session will examine what practical and policy changes will need to be implemented to reach the Government’s target recycling rate of 65% by 2035, and the financial implications for local authorities.

Kent’s role in Woodford fund trading suspension unclear
Room 151 | June 4, 2019
Woodford Equity Income Fund suspended trading after Kent County Council’s Pension Fund decided to redeem its £263m investment in the fund, representing around 4% of the council’s total £6.4bn pensions fund investments.

London council set to pursue 50/50 development joint venture
Room 151 | May 30, 2019
The London Borough of Harrow is set to approve the creation of Harrow Strategic Development Partnership, a joint venture to develop three major sites in the borough.  The council will now need to procure a development partner.

English councils warned about 'exhausting' reserve cash
BBC | May 29, 2019
Analysis by the BBC claims to have identified 11 authorities that a Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) briefing said would have "fully exhausted" reserves within four years unless they topped them up. A number of named councils have since said that the claims were misleading.

Are local authorities the new power players in the energy market?
Local Gov | May 29, 2019
Some local authorities are looking beyond property investments towards renewable energy. “Investment of this type is becoming increasingly popular as a means to optimise existing assets, generate new income streams, meet climate targets with clean energy, and support a low carbon economy.”

Income generation project rakes in £5m
The MJ (subscription only) | May 28, 2019
‘Project Enterprise’ investments have generated more than £5m over five years for Test Valley Borough Council.

Council makes ‘radical move’ to buy town centre
LocalGov | May 24, 2019
Knowsley Council has made an offer to buy Kirkby town centre, taking this decision after repeated delays to regeneration schemes by the current owners – St. Modwen – and other private sector organisations.

Supporting families: investing in practice programme
Department for Education | May 22, 2019
The supporting families: investing in practice programme is looking to work with up to 40 local authorities to test and expand 2 projects from the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.  These projects are family drug and alcohol courts (FDAC) and a model of family group conferencing (FGC).  Local authorities who are interested in these projects should email an expression of interest (EOI) form to wwcprogrammes@nesta.org.uk by midnight 19 June 2019.

Liverpool to reopen housing revenue account
Room 151 | May 22, 2019
Liverpool City Council is set to reopen its housing revenue account to build new council homes – 11 years after it transferred its remaining stock to a registered provider.  The move comes two months after the government issued guidance for councils on how to open an HRA, following the government’s decision to lift the housing revenue debt cap.

£55million Homes England grant funding to boost development of 4,000 homes
Homes England | May 22, 2019
55 million grant funding has been agreed with Homes England to deliver 4,000 new homes.  The deal will support 12 local authorities to accelerate housing across England on sites in their ownership.  Use of modern methods of construction will contribute to the increase in build pace by an average of 40 percent, and the first of the developments will start on site later this year.

Launch of Inequality: the IFS Deaton Review
Institute for Fiscal Studies | May 14, 2019
The IFS Deaton Review is a comprehensive five-year study of inequalities in society funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The review will be led by Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir Angus Deaton. The project will draw on a range of diverse perspectives to understand inequalities in income, wealth, health, social mobility, and political participation.  As well as deepening understanding of inequalities in the twentieth-first century, the review aims to provide solutions.

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Place & Growth

Key factors driving regeneration
The UK’s skylines are changing. In the West Midlands Business Insider magazine this month, an article focussed on how large development projects are making an impact far beyond their immediate boundaries. Bevan Brittan Partner - Steven Smith, outlined the key factors driving renewal and investment as:

  • Leadership – combined authorities, local enterprise partnerships, local authorities and business leaders creating the vision and strategic thinking;
  • Enterprise Zone – tax concessions, infrastructure incentives and reduced regulations help to attract investment while enabling local authorities to retain higher levels of business rates;
  • Location – improved transport links appeal to companies and skilled workers seeking an alternative to London;
  • Diversity – in Birmingham’s case, a diverse and young city attracts global industry sectors;
  • Governance – flexible legal structures mean developments stay ‘dynamic’ and can fluctuate to meet market demand.

We know the importance of getting this mix right. Our partnership with Birmingham City Council on the Smithfield project and more widely, have shown us first hand, how these factors play an important and effective role to drive investment and regeneration.

 

Publications & Guidance

Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government | June 13, 2019
This policy paper sets out long-term priorities to increase productivity in the region.  Elements covered include: health and care innovation; advanced materials manufacturing; growing assets in cyber security; enabling digitalisation; carbon neutral living; education, skills and employment.

Capital cities: How the planning system creates housing shortages and drives wealth inequality
Centre for Cities | June 11, 2019
The report finds that the planning system is widening the North-South wealth divide.  Key points include: planning policy has made urban homeowners in the Greater South East over £80,000 richer than those elsewhere in England and Wales since 2013; London saw the largest increases in housing wealth, Sunderland the smallest; planning reform is needed to stop the gifting of wealth to homeowners in successful cities.

Moving Matters: Housing costs and labour market mobility
Resolution Foundation | June 6, 2019
This research indicates as a nation the rate at which we take up a new opportunity and change residence has fallen over time. This is especially true for younger age groups, where the propensity of young private renters to move home and job has fallen by two-thirds between 1997 and 2018.  This partly reflects the fact that private rents have risen consistently faster in higher-paying areas of England.

Future of seaside towns: government response to the Select Committee report
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government | June 4, 2019
This is the government response to the House of Lords Select Committee report on regenerating seaside towns and communities, looking at the future of seaside towns, which was published on 4 April 2019.  The government has considered the Committee’s findings, and its response supports the vast majority of the report’s recommendations.

Hollow Highstreets: Empty council-owned commercial properties
Taxpayers’ Alliance | June 3, 2019
This research looks at the number of vacant commercial properties owned by local authorities, and includes information on what councils spent insuring, maintaining, refurbishing and providing security for their vacant non-residential properties. Between January 2016 and December 2017, at least 6,047 council-owned commercial properties were declared vacant for all or part of that time.  The total cost of providing security, insurance, maintenance and renovation of these properties was £74,022,381.

Debate Pack: Regional Industrial Strategy
House of Commons Library | May 31, 2019
A briefing prepared in advance of the ‘Industrial Strategy in the North East of England’ debate on 5th June. Local Industrial Strategies are plans designed by local public and private sector organisations that identify the local "strengths, challenges, future opportunities and action needed to boost productivity, earning power and competitiveness."

Fairer and Stronger – Rebalancing the UK Economy
UK2070 Commission | May 30, 2019
The commission’s first report makes several proposals to tackle regional inequality: Much greater devolution of powers and funding, including the creation of four new ‘super regional’ economic development agencies; a spatial plan to guide the future development of the whole of the UK; action to harness new technologies and strengthen local economies; long-term investment through a new National Renewal Fund which would rebalance the economy over a 25-year period.

Rethinking High Speed 2
House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee | May 16, 2019
The Committee recommends that the northern section of HS2—the second phase of the project—should be combined with Northern Powerhouse Rail and treated as one programme, allowing for investment to be prioritised where it is most needed.  The Committee finds evidence that the costs of HS2 appear to be out of control.

Parks and innovation: Lessons from Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Park
Centre for Cities | May 14, 2019
How can policymakers foster business innovation within local and national industrial strategy? This report sets out lessons from Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Park, which is helping to transform the city region from a place of low-cost production to one of high-value knowledge output.

 

News

Government invests £142 million in building communities to deliver the homes the country needs
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government | June 11, 2019
This press release states that thousands of homes will be built in growing communities as a result of a £142 million investment in infrastructure.  The money will be spent on widening bridges, building roads and connecting utilities so up to 8,500 properties can be built.  The spending, under the Housing Infrastructure Fund, is part of the government’s drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Poorest communities fear loss of £2bn EU funding after Brexit
Huffington Post | June 10, 2019
An investigation of Treasury funding published by the coalition campaigning group, Communities in Charge, reveals significant regional differences between the way in which the EU and the UK allocates funding for economic development.  Communities fear that if the new Shared Prosperity Fund is distributed in the same way the government allocates current spending on economic affairs, it will unfairly benefit more prosperous areas.

Labour report spells out radical approach to land reform
Housing Today | June 5, 2019
A report commissioned for the Labour Party, Land for the Many, attempts to address inequality across society “stemming from how land is developed for housing and other uses”.  The report calls for policy developments including community land trusts, replacing council tax with a progressive property tax, and replacing business rates with a land value tax.

Communities to benefit from new housing infrastructure rules
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | June 4, 2019
This MHCLG press release announces that “councils will be required to report the deals done with developers, and set out how the money will be spent enabling residents to see every step taken to secure their area is ready for new housing.”  See also the Government response to reforming developer contributions consultation.

Will the Augar Review help reduce inequality between places?
Centre for Cities | May 30, 2019
The Augar Review pledged to reduce the imbalance between further and higher education, with important implications for cities.  This blog post looks at the report’s recommendations in greater detail.

Housing Minister announces boost for families and high streets as planning red tape is axed
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government | May 25, 2019
Permitted development rights will give business owners on the high street greater flexibility as they respond to changing trends in customer spending.  Shops will be able to change to office space without the need for a full planning application.  The move builds upon changes to the law which allow business owners to change the use of buildings from takeaways to new homes without undergoing a full planning application.  The changes also allow the temporary change of use from high street uses such shops, offices, and betting shops to certain community uses such as a library or public hall.

What the West Midlands’ local industrial strategy means for other places
Centre for Cities | May 24, 2019
Many areas may look to the West Midlands’ newly published local industrial strategy as a template: this blog post considers they must identify what the barriers to high productivity businesses are in their own areas if they are to be useful.

High streets to benefit from £62 million heritage boost
DCMS and Historic England | May 18, 2019
This press release states that, building on successful programmes, the funding will be used to regenerate places by turning disused or underused buildings into creative spaces, offices, retail outlets and housing.  It is part of the Government’s ongoing work to help high streets adapt to changing consumer habits.  Today’s initiative is part of the government’s comprehensive plan for High Streets announced at last year’s Budget, including a £675 million Future High Streets Fund and a £1 billion business rates discount for small high street retailers.

Hackney publishes guide to banning traffic outside schools
LocalGov | My 17, 2019
Hackney Council has launched a new toolkit designed to help local authorities ban traffic outside of schools at opening and closing times.  The London borough introduced School Streets schemes, which limit traffic outside of schools, in 2017.

 

Legislation

The Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 (Draft)
legislation.gov.uk | June 4, 2019
These draft Regulations amend the operation of the Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”), a levy which local authorities can impose on the new development of land.  They remove the restriction on pooling more than five developer contributions to fund a single infrastructure project, reduce the penalties for failure to submit a notice before commencing building, and address issues with the existing implementation of indexation. They make amendments in relation to the calculation of CIL where planning permission has been ‘amended’, including providing for credits to be moved between phases of planning permissions. They also introduce Infrastructure Funding Statements, requiring local authorities to report on developer contributions received and allocated, and increase transparency over the indexation of CIL rates.

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Governance & Reorganisation

Is a committee system the shape of things to come?
Cheshire East Council is the latest authority to seek the move away from executive arrangements to a committee system, providing more power to backbenchers. With the recent local elections resulting in many councils with no overall party in control, this may become a regular occurrence. Naturally, this involves a big change to governance structures, and the importance of making sure that those structures are properly developed and robust, cannot be overstated. Whether councils are seeking to change their governance structure or address constitutions which have become confused and disjointed over time, we are helping an increasing number of Councils to get things right.

 

The war on town hall Pravdas continues
The spirit of Eric Pickles’ ‘war on town hall Pravdas ’ appears to be going strong. This was apparent with the recent Court of Appeal’s decision to reject a judicial review challenge against the Secretary of State who had restricted Hackney and Waltham Forest Councils from publishing newsletters on more than a quarterly basis. The debate as to the value of such publications from a localism and transparency perspective, and their alleged impact upon the ability of independent local media to hold local government to account, continues.

 

Publications & Guidance 

Government responds to the HCLG Select Committee report on Brexit and local government
Gov.uk | June 3, 2019
The Government has provided their response to the HCLG Select Committee’s recommendations following its enquiry into Brexit and local government and has “in spirit and in principle” accepted all of their recommendations.

Innovation in Democracy Programme
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Department of Culture, Media & Sport | May 30, 2019
The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) is trialling the involvement of citizens in decision-making at local government level through innovative models of deliberative democracy. Following an Expression of Interest process, IiDP will be working with the following local authorities: Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (Future of town centres); Greater Cambridge Partnership ((Improving public transport and tackling congestion) and Test Valley Borough Council (Future of waste and recycling and / or vitality of town centres).

UK National Action Plan for Open Government 2019-2021
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport | May 28, 2019
The fourth National Action Plan (NAP) makes commitments to increase public participation in government and help deliver solutions that are transformative.  The policy paper sets out eight commitments in line with the Open Government Partnership values of access to information, civic participation, public accountability, and technology and innovation.

Letter to stock-owning local authorities about the consumer standards
Regulator of Social Housing | May 17, 2019
The Regulator of Social Housing wrote to Chief executives of local authorities who own housing stock and are on its register.  The letter states: “Boards and councillors must ensure that they have proper oversight of all health and safety issues (including gas safety, fire safety, asbestos and legionella). Contracting out delivery of services does not contract out responsibility to meet the requirements of legislation or standards, so providers need systems to give boards assurance of compliance.”

Data breach by Scotland's largest local authority
GovTech Leaders | May 16, 2019
Confidential information about 28 young children was discovered in an open bin in a general waste area outside Highland Council’s headquarters.

Local Government Governance and Accountability
Public Accounts Committee | May 15, 2019
This Select Committee report concludes that Government oversight of local authority governance has been “reactive and ill-informed”.  At a time when local authority budgets are under extreme pressure, the Government must ensure that governance systems are improved.

Hitting Reset: A case for local leadership
Localis | May 15, 2019
The think-tank argues that providing financial resources for economic investment, freedom to raise local revenues to fund vital local services and a transfer of powers from Whitehall to local level are vital to rebuilding a strong local state capable of rebalancing the national economy.  Among key recommendations, Localis calls for the establishment of a British Investment Bank that would enable regional productivity to be democratically accountable and for the next Spending Review to set out a replacement to EU funding until 2025.

Structures required to manage model disciplinary procedure
Joint Negotiating Committee for Chief Executives of local authorities | May 7, 2019
A letter sent to Chief Executives states that there have been instances in recent months of some councils not having the appropriate structures and standing committees in place in order that potential disciplinary issues can be quickly considered.  The letter sets out the regulatory requirements in this respect.

 

News

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council refuses to follow Ombudsman recommendations
Local Government Lawyer | June 11, 2019
Council rejects the finding of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman that they had failed to comply with homelessness duties and refuses to follow training and compensation recommendations.

Safeguarding Partners: Are you ready for 29 June 2019?
Bevan Brittan | June 10, 2019
New safeguarding partner arrangements are replacing Local Safeguarding Children's Boards ("LSCBs") and the deadline for publishing details of new arrangements is 29 June.  The new arrangements need to cover a number of requirements set out in the statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018).

Unitary council to adopt committee system of governance
LocalGov | May 24, 2019
Cheshire East Council is set to scrap its current ‘leader and cabinet’ system of decision making and adopt a committee system from 2020.

NAO scrutinises oversight of councils’ investment strategies
Public Finance | May 17, 2019
Head of the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse, has told the housing, communities and local government committee that the NAO is in the process of investigating government oversight of councils’ commercial property investment.

Council governance systems ‘inadequate’ for austerity era
Local Gov | May 15, 2019
The Public Accounts Committee report notes that local authorities are pursuing shared services, expanding outsourcing and taking on commercial activities at the same time as cutting funding for corporate activities like governance.  While the report acknowledged that governance arrangements are ‘generally robust’, it did find that in some councils there were audit committees that do not provide sufficient assurance.

Electoral Law inquiry
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee | May 2019
The deadline for written submissions to the inquiry was extended to take account of the EU elections.  Many of the core elements of the law regulating election campaigns in parliamentary constituencies and local authority wards have not been updated since the nineteenth century. Recent prosecutions and investigations have demonstrated that even many experts are confused about how the law should be applied in practice to modern election campaigns.  PACAC is therefore asking how urgent comprehensive reform is, what should be prioritised, and whether there is a need to go beyond the Law Commission’s proposals?

 

Legislation

The Buckinghamshire (Structural Changes) Order 2019
legislation.gov.uk | May 22, 2019
This Order gives effect to Buckinghamshire County Council’s proposal for the establishment of a single tier of local government for Buckinghamshire. The existing district areas are to be abolished as local government areas and all five councils in Buckinghamshire – Buckinghamshire County Council and the four district councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe – are to be wound up and dissolved. They will be replaced by a single unitary council called Buckinghamshire Council, which from 1 April 2020 will be the sole local authority for the local government area of Buckinghamshire.

 

Cases

London Borough of Hackney & Anor, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2019] EWHC 1438 (Admin) (07 June 2019)
BAILII | June 10, 2019
The Court of Appeal has rejected a judicial review challenge by Waltham Forest Council and Hackney Council against directions made by the SoS under s.4A of the Local Government Act 1986 prohibiting them from publishing their newsletters more than quarterly.

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Contract Management

Updates issued to the Model Services Contract
This month the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and Government Legal Service have published updates to the Model Services Contract taking into account lessons learnt following the collapse of Carillion.  The updates and guidance focus particularly on financial distress, service continuity, risk allocation, supply chain visibility and social value. 

But as we seek to take a stronger position on these risks in the contract drafting, we also hear an announcement from Kier Group  regarding the future position of a number of its businesses.  Amongst other changes, the Kier Group is restructuring to:

  • focus on Regional Building, Infrastructure, Utilities and Highways;
  • simplify the Group’s portfolio by selling or substantially exiting non-core activities: Kier Living, Property, Facilities Management and Environmental Services;
  • fundamentally restructure the Group to reduce headcount by approximately and deliver annual cost savings of around £55m over the next two years (from FY2021); and
  • embed  a  culture  of  performance  excellence  with  a  particular  focus  on  cash generation to  deliver reduced average net debt.

Market analysts Tussell say the firm is named on 80 local authority contracts signed since 2015, with a total lifetime value of nearly £600m, leaving a significant number of authorities exposed.  If you are in negotiations with, or otherwise already contract with, Kier group entities we can offer support in ongoing contract management, exit management and transition.

Whatever happens, Tussell’s founder Gus Tugendhat has said that “it is essential that central government is sharing the lessons it has learned in managing risk in its supply chain with colleagues across the wider public sector.” 

Meanwhile, public sector outsourcing continues with reports that Amazon has been awarded £460m in public sector contracts since 2015.  Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation has recently signed a £400m deal with the online retainer  to provide a digital marketplace for councils to buy goods and services – a contract far ahead of the next biggest UK public sector contract with HM Revenue and Customers worth £47m.

 

Publications & Guidance

Model Services Contract
Cabinet Office | June 10, 2019
The Cabinet Office, Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Government Legal Service have published an updated version of the Model Services Contract and accompanying guidance for use. The updates reflect developments in government policy, regulation and the market as well as learning the lessons following the collapse of Carillion. 

Debate on increasing the social value of public procurement - House of Lords, 23 May 2019
Local Government Association | May 21, 2019
Social value in the procurement process is crucial to councils and is a key way of helping improve local economic growth.  The LGA recommends central government encourages the rest of the public sector to use the social value themes, outcomes and measures developed by local councils, major suppliers, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs).

Procurement Policy Note 03/19: The Public Procurement (Electronic Invoices etc.) Regulations
Cabinet Office | May 20, 2019
This note explains that Public Procurement (Electronic Invoices etc.) Regulations 2019 are now made and describes actions required by contracting authorities.  Government has implemented The EU Directive on electronic invoicing in public procurement through The Public Procurement (Electronic Invoices etc.) Regulations 2019. Contracting authorities and other contracting entities (utilities) are now required to receive and process supplier invoices that comply with the technical e-invoicing standard developed under the Directive.

Rebuilding capacity: The case for insourcing contracts
Association for Public Service Excellence | May 2019
This research explores the growing phenomenon of ‘Insourcing’; bringing back ‘in-house’ the delivery of services. It takes a particular focus on UK local government services and questions the drivers for this increase in insourcing. It finds that insourcing is not a passive reaction to contract failures but is increasingly viewed as a proactive response to the public policy pressures facing local councils.

 

News

Councils exposed following Kier profit warning
LocalGov | June 6, 2019
Local authorities are heavily exposed to struggling construction giant Kier which faced a huge fall in its share price this week, according to the latest figures.  Market analysts Tussell say the firm is named on 80 local authority contracts signed since 2015, with a total lifetime value of nearly £600m.

Combined authority signs £1bn waste contracts
LocalGov | June 3, 2019
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has signed new operating contracts with SUEZ for the management of the city’s waste and resources.

Yorkshire purchasing authority signs deal with Amazon
LocalGov | May 29, 2019
YPO, the public sector buying organisation, has signed a deal with Amazon Business to supply goods and services to public sector bodies including local authorities, multi-academy trusts and universities. The company says the four-year contract, worth up to £400m, will offer public sector customers a 'compliant' purchasing route.

Further reflections on Faraday
Local Government Lawyer | May 24, 2019
Bevan Brittan’s Trevor Watt looks at the Court of Appeal's approach in the Faraday case to VEAT notices and limitation periods.

Development arrangements and works contracts
Local Government Lawyer | May 17, 2019
Bevan Brittan’s Matthew Mo analyses the Court of Appeal’s decision in Faraday Development Ltd v West Berkshire Council, looking at when a land development arrangement falls within the definition of a works contract.

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Disputes

Unauthorised encampments and trespass
During the summer months, the media regularly focus on the Travelling community, with their spotlight fixed on occupiers convening on land without consent.

This recently hit the headlines with the arrival of 15 vehicles in the grounds of Windsor Castle, outside Frogmore Cottage.

Of course, unauthorised encampments are not just an issue for the Royal family. Many local authorities and landowners will have experienced such visitors. Whilst we should acknowledge that some examples of camps are very short-lived and cause very little disturbance, many are much more disruptive, for instance the infamous Dale Farm example in Essex.

When a landowner has cause for concern regarding unauthorised encampments, there are various options available for the removal of the occupiers. What will be appropriate will depend on the various factors and the issues that have been experienced. For example we are currently assisting in relation to a large unauthorised encampment in the south east. The Council is actively enforcing the removal of the occupants due to their breach of planning control, anti-social behaviour and their impact on the local community. This is being undertaken in a phased manner.

When evicting, it is important to consider Human Rights, proportionality and the best interests of any children.

We work alongside in-house legal teams to provide support and assist with urgent situations of anti-social behaviour, trespass and unsanctioned events such as raves, to ensure that an appropriate solution is achieved.

 

News

Judge strikes out JR claim after claimant refuses to pay money into court
Local Government Lawyer | June 7, 2019
A judicial review claim brought by the “We Love Hackney” campaign against changes to Hackney Council’s licensing policy has been struck out after the campaign group refused to pay money into court to cover the council’s costs should the claim be unsuccessful.

County council hit by legal challenge to children’s centres closure plans
Local Government Lawyer | June 4, 2019
Buckinghamshire County Council is facing a High Court challenge over its decision to close more than half of its children’s centres.  The local authority decided in March this year to close 19 of the 35 centres it operates across the county.

Trade body to cease involvement in bailiff complaints adjudication
CIVEA | May 30, 2019
From 1 June, the process for complaining about enforcement agents (bailiffs) will be streamlined. CIVEA will no longer review complaints on behalf of its members. With CIVEA no longer involved, all complaints about enforcement agents acting on behalf of local authorities will go straight to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman for independent adjudication after local processes have been exhausted.

Council denies its obligations to homeless domestic violence victim
Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman | May 30, 2019
Oadby and Wigston Borough Council has refused to accept it has done anything wrong when it failed to take a homelessness application from a victim of domestic violence, despite an Ombudsman investigation into its actions.

State aid complaint to Brussels sees stadium row rumble on
Local Government Lawyer | May 23, 2019
Coventry City Football Club’s owner has made a complaint to the European Commission that the city council’s sale of the Ricoh Arena to Wasps rugby club breached state aid rules.

 

Cases

Samuels v Birmingham City Council [2019] UKSC 28
UKSC Blog | June 12, 2019
This appeal considered whether the respondent was entitled to treat the appellant as intentionally homeless on the basis that part of her income from subsistence benefits was available to meet the shortfall between her contractual rent and the housing benefit awarded to her, and whether sufficient reasons were given for this decision.  The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal.

Rejection by the Supreme Court to extend duty of care by local authorities to children suffering harm from third parties
Bevan Brittan | June 11, 2019
The Supreme Court has handed down judgment in Poole Borough Council v GN [2019] UKSC 25, giving a decision that summarises the circumstances where a Local Authority can be considered to owe a common law duty of care when carrying out statutory functions.

Planning permission for council sports centre quashed
The MJ (subscription only) | June 10, 2019
A High Court judge has ruled that Elmbridge Borough Council’s £19m sports hub was granted planning permission unlawfully.  The Xcel Sports Hub in Walton no longer has planning permission and may be demolished, despite having opened in 2017.

Judge issues ruling in preliminary trial of legal actions over highways procurement and abandonment decision
Local Government Lawyer | May 29, 2019
In Amey Highways Ltd v West Sussex County Council, the claimant, Amey, brought two sets of proceedings against West Sussex alleging failures in the council's procurement of a contract.

Judge refuses application by unsuccessful bidder for injunction over award of road improvement contract
Local Government Lawyer | May 21, 2019
In Kenson Contractors (Benington) Ltd v London Borough of Haringey, a High Court judge has refused an application by an unsuccessful bidder for an interim injunction over the London Borough of Haringey’s decision to award a £630,000 road-improvement contract near the new Spurs stadium to a rival contractor.

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