28/03/2019

LA Spotlight

Messages from MIPIM

As you will see below, we are focussed on supporting councils with their Place and Growth agenda. We recently attended the MIPIM conference and again took note of the number of UK towns, cities and regions that were in attendance to showcase the opportunities for growth and development. The consistent story from those in attendance was one of ambition with an emphasis on realism and practical solutions. We are finding through our work with councils that the range of delivery structures and options continues to grow, with no prevalent single solution.  The recent removal of the HRA cap has resulted in a greater opportunity for local authorities to deliver housing in a way which strengthens the relationship between the built environment, their local communities and the sense of place but this is not the only prompt. A message from MIPIM was how local authorities are increasingly working with other partners including the Higher Education sector, Homes England, LEPs, Combined Authorities, Registered Providers, Developers and local landowners to bring aggregated and area wide schemes forward.

We have been developing a toolkit of options that can take a local authority on a journey to explore what may best meet their objectives. These include:

  • Disposals for a capital receipt – often with future overage or clawback arrangements
  • Investment acquisitions
  • Strategic purchases
  • The use of CPO to trigger wider development
  • Single or multi-site developments including joint ventures
  • Long-term joint venture partnerships for strategic estate development

Having heard what we did in MIPIM we will be sharing more of these ideas in coming months, but if you would like to know more please do contact us.

 

 

Commercialisation

Health & social care

Whilst Brexit has inevitably dominated central government activity this month, the impact analysis of its effects on local government require ongoing analysis.  The LGA’s most recent paper considers the impact on the already challenged health and social care sector. As expected, the funding shortfall features, which requires critical attention. However, the specific salary threshold for the revised immigration system will have a significant impact on a sector which is already struggling with recruitment and retention.

As spending pressures in education and social care continue to challenge funding, pressures facing authorities and substantive Council tax increases will fail to plug the deficit in adult social care. The bleak headlines of council’s continuing to dip into reserves to meet funding pressures, outlined in State of Local Government Finance Survey 2019, build the anticipation around Philip Hammond’s Spending Review following reaction to this year’s Spring Statement

On a more positive note, preventative measures in health and wellbeing are receiving some well-deserved attention. Innovation in prevention can be implemented despite funding pressures on discretionary yet vital services. Will this bring a change in the widespread policy of cutting funding to non-statutory services?

 

Publications & Guidance

Sector Pulse Check 2018
Hft | February 12, 2019
Research found that in 2018 more than half (59%) of social care providers had been forced to close down some parts of their organisation or hand back contracts to local authorities as a means of dealing with cost pressures. 68% envisaged having to do the same “in the near future” while 11% foresaw a reduction in the quality of care if their financial situation did not improve.  This would suggest that vulnerable adults supported by the sector may soon start to be directly affected by the funding pressures.

The effect of leaving the European Union on the UK's health and social care sector
Local Government Association | March 18, 2019
Briefing paper on the effect of leaving the European Union on the UK's health and social care sector, House of Commons

LGiU MJ State of Local Government Finance Survey 2019
LGiU / MJ | February 14, 2019
This annual report provides a snapshot of the major pressures facing councils.  Key findings include: 97% of councils plan to increase council tax in 2019-20; 80% of councils say they are not confident in the sustainability of local government finance; over half of councils plan to dip into their reserves this year; Children’s Services and Education is the top immediate financial pressure for the second year running; Adult Social Care is named as the top long-term financial pressure.

Reshaping financial support: how local authorities can help to support low income households in financial difficulty
Local Government Association | February 19, 2019
This study has looked at how 10 councils have been reviewing their approaches so that they can better target their resources on those in greatest need, as well as deliver more holistic responses to support people to become more financially resilient in the longer term.

The Living Standards Outlook 2019
Resolution Foundation | February 20, 2019
According to this report, UK households are facing the prospect of stagnating living standards, while the proportion of children living in poverty risks hitting a record high by the end of the parliament.  The Outlook says that this bleak forecast for living standards is driven largely by weak nominal pay growth which, while strengthening to over 3 per cent in late 2018, is projected to remain well short of its pre-crisis trend of 4 per cent over the next five years.

Children and young people’s services: Funding and spending 2010/11 to 2017/18
Action for Children et al | February 26, 2019
Funding for children’s and young people’s services has fallen 29% since 2010. As councils try to limit the impact of cuts to frontline services an unsustainable funding gap has emerged and will reach £3bn by 2025.  Analysis of official figures by Action for Children, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, The Children’s Society and the National Children’s Bureau has identified “kids’ cuts hotspots” across England, where local councils have faced the biggest real-term drop in this funding.

Early Years Revolution needed to improve support and services
Health and Social Care Committee | February 26, 2019
The Government must kick-start an Early Years Revolution to improve support and services for children, parents and families, says the Health and Social Care Committee, in its report on the first 1000 days of life.  The Committee is asking the Government to produce a long-term strategy that  sets goals to reduce adverse childhood experiences, improve school readiness and reduce infant mortality and child poverty.  The Committee then wants all local authorities to develop plans - with the local NHS, communities and the voluntary sector - to implement this strategy, bringing improved support for children, parents and families in their area.

Revealed: The thousands of public spaces lost to the council funding crisis
The Bureau of Investigation Journalism | March 4, 2019
The Bureau report that due to lack of funding councils are being forced to sell thousands of public spaces, such as community centres, playgrounds and libraries. Their data shows that 12,000 public spaces have been sold since 2014/15, raising £9.1 million. Some of the revenue has been used to pay for redundancies.

Culture-led regeneration: achieving inclusive and sustainable growth
Local Government Association | March 5, 2019
The LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board commissioned this guide to see how cultural-led generation can be done, so councils across the country can look at examples that work for them and possibly do something similar.

Building a workforce that works for all children
The Association of Directors of Children’s Services has called on the Government to appoint a lead to oversee a coherent workforce strategy for the whole of children’s workforce. ADCS’ ‘Building a workforce that works for all children’ paper also calls for the creation of a central repository of learning and development resources, and for the Government to provide a leadership development offer for aspiring and serving directors of children’s services. “This should include a greater focus on training black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders for the future” ADCS said.  

 

News

Spelthorne drops commercial activity to focus on housebuilding
Public Finance | February 15, 2019
Following its high-profile commercial property investment strategy, a capital strategy document to be discussed at an upcoming Cabinet meeting states that the Council’s focus will now move from revenue generation to providing affordable housing.

The depressing tale of New York and Amazon should make us wary
LGC | February 15, 2019 [subscription only]
Commentary on the controversy surrounding inducements that US cities are offering to large corporates to locate in their region, and how “British councils must avoid creating a race to the bottom on business taxation”.

Building social housing over 20 years could have saved renters £1.8 billion
Local Government Association | February 15, 2019
Building 100,000 government-funded social rent homes a year over the past two decades would have cut billions from the housing benefit bill, provided higher disposable income for tenants and generated significant economic returns, new analysis reveals.

The government’s proposals for the reform of business rates retention need further work
Institute of Fiscal Studies | February 18, 2019
The IFS response to the MHCLG’s consultation on business rates retention states that much of what is proposed is welcome, however, “the consultation’s description of how proposals to protect councils from the risk of valuation changes will function is confusing, imprecise, and appears to be internally inconsistent”.  The response calls for greater clarity and accuracy from the department.

Portsmouth to create development company
The MJ | February 21, 2019 [subscription only]
Portsmouth Council’s Cabinet are due to vote on proposals to establish an authority-owned development company named Ravelin. Subject to planning approval, over 200 homes will be built at five council-owned sites across the city.  Proceeds from property sales will be returned to the council to support services.

Local government funding formula ‘must include deprivation levels’
Public Finance | February 25, 2019
Responses to MHCLG’s consultation reviewing local authorities’ relative needs and resources have expressed concern that levels of deprivation have not been included in calculating funding allocations.

A million public sector workers paid less than living wage, says report
The Guardian | February 28, 2019
The Living Wage Foundation said as many as 1.2 million people working for the NHS, councils and other public sector employers receive unsustainably low wages of less than £9 an hour, or £10.55 in London.

Council tax increases in England to be second highest in ten years
CIPFA | March 5, 2019
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy Council Tax Survey reveals that councils are increasing council tax bills by an average 4.5% in the year 2019/20, the second highest rise in the last ten years.

Local Government Finance and the 2019 Spending Review inquiry
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee | March 6, 2019
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has announced a new inquiry into local government finance. Ahead of the Spending Review 2019 expected this autumn, the inquiry will consider how effective the existing funding set-up for local government is in providing resources to meet need and demand for local services both now and in the future.  Submissions are invited, with the deadline for written evidence being April 17, 2019.

Council tax will fail to protect adult social services this year
LGA | March 6, 2019
Even with council tax flexibilities, the LGA has estimates that adult social care services will face a funding gap of at least £1bn in 2019/20, just to maintain existing standards of care. They state that this will rise to £3.6bn by 2025.

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Place & Growth

New housing legislation – know the facts

Anyone with even a passing interest in social housing can’t have failed to notice the seemingly unstoppable passage of the Private Members’ Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Bill through Parliament over the last 12 months or so.

The Bill received Royal Assent on 20 December 2018 and the Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20 March 2019.  The Act amends Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require all landlords to ensure that their properties, including common parts, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. The obligations imposed by the Act apply to:

  • Tenancies of less than 7 years granted on or after 20 March 2019
  • New secure, assured and introductory tenancies granted on or after 20 March 2019
  • Tenancies renewed for a fixed term on or after 20 March 2019
  • From 20 March 2020 - all periodic tenancies (including those that commenced before
    20 March 2019).

In addition, if the property is subject to any of the 29 ‘hazards’ set out in Schedule 1 of the Housing Health and Safety (England) Regulations 2005, it will be deemed unfit for human habitation.

This will apply to any stock-holding authority in its capacity as landlord. If this affects your Authority, consider carrying out stock condition surveys to ensure that any premises in your ownership or management are compliant with the Act. For further advice on what you need to do next, read our Know the Facts webpage.

 

Publications & Guidance

Malthouse boosts funding for community-led affordable housing
MHCLG | February 15, 2019
The Community Led Homes Programme – managed by four housing charities – will provide local people with funding to kick-start community-led housing developments.  Funding of up to £10,000 will be provided to groups to cover start-up costs such as legal fees, and a further £3.5 million will be made available to provide technical advice and support to guide communities through the process of building housing.

Brokenshire champions parks with over £13 million new funding
MHCLG | February 17, 2019
The Department announces £13 million funding towards green spaces, including £9.7 million for local authorities to improve their parks.

Integrating the planning and delivery of sustainable transport with new housing development
KPMG, commissioned by Greener Journeys for the Transport Knowledge Hub | February 2019
Siloed transport and planning decision-making, as well as fragmented and short-term public sector funding, are some of the key barriers to integrating sustainable transport and housing. Lack of sustainable transport within new housing sites risks creating car-dependent development and isolated communities. The report identifies an eight-point plan to help overcome these barriers and secure the full benefits of new housing as government targets 300,000 new homes a year.

Consultation outcome: Changes to planning policy and guidance including the standard method for assessing local housing need
MHCLG | February 19, 2019
This document provides a summary of the consultation responses received. It also sets out the proposed changes the government is making to national planning policy and guidance in the light of its proposals and the consultation responses.

City centres: past, present and future
Centre for Cities | February 19, 2019
While successful cities typically feature fewer shops, the well-paying jobs they offer and the increased footfall in their city centres create a consumer market for high street restaurants, bars and other leisure activities. If a city centre fails to attract these high-skilled businesses, the city as a whole tends to lose out. This report suggests that to support city centres, the Government should treat them as strategic infrastructure projects, similar to transport.

Consultation: Tackling homelessness together
MHCLG | February 21, 2019
This consultation seeks views on how the government could improve local accountability for the delivery of homelessness services.  The Ministry is seeking views on: the effectiveness of existing non-statutory and statutory local accountability and partnership structures in homelessness services; whether the government should introduce Homelessness Reduction Boards and, if so, how this could be done most effectively; how else local accountability and partnership working in homelessness services might be improved.

High streets and town centres in 2030
Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee | February 21, 2019
Dated policies and an unfair tax regime must be reformed to create an environment that will allow high streets and town centres to flourish in the future, a report published by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has found.

Regional funding after Brexit: Opportunities for the UK's Shared Prosperity Fund
IPPR | February 27, 2019
Brexit brings uncertainty over the future of funding allocated to the nations and regions of the UK. EU regional policy provides significant investment in the form of European structural and investment funds (ESIF).  The government has named the ESIF replacement as the ‘UK Shared Prosperity Fund’ (SPF).  This briefing aims to outline three challenges: regional inequality; centralisation of power; and a lack of community voice. It then provides recommendations for how the SPF could be designed effectively to tackle these problems.

Stronger Towns Fund
MHCLG | March 4, 2019
The Communities Secretary has announced a new £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund for England. This fund will build on the success of City Deals, which were agreed in 28 of England’s biggest conurbations.  £1 billion of the new fund will be allocated using a needs-based formula, with the remaining £600 million being available through a competitive process.

 

News

Mayors claim Spending Review will prioritise shires over cities
The MJ | February 19, 2019 [subscription only]
Mayors in London, Liverpool and Sheffield have claimed ‘poor’ cities will lose out to ‘wealthy’ shires in the Government’s Spending Review, widening the gap between communities in deprived urban areas and their rural counterparts.

Local authorities with major ports to receive funding boost to help with Brexit preparations
MHCLG | February 20, 2019
Nineteen local authorities facing impacts from a local air, land or sea port will receive a share of £3.14 million to help them prepare for Brexit.  These district and unitary councils across England will receive £136,362 to the end of April for each major port of entry into the UK in their area.

When new housing is built, can communities get the infrastructure to go with it?
House of Commons Library | February 22, 2019
New housing often creates a need for more infrastructure, such as schools and GP surgeries. While there are ways in which developers can contribute towards such costs, these are not always seen as effective. This Insight examines the sources of funding and the calls for change.

The Government has announced that struggling towns will receive a £1.6bn boost after Brexit.
BBC online | March 4, 2019
The money will be spread over seven years, with more than half going to the North of England and the Midlands.

Revealed: The thousands of public spaces lost to the council funding crisis
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism | March 4, 2019
The Bureau has compiled data on more than 12,000 public spaces disposed of by councils since 2014/15. Our investigation found that councils raised a total of £9.1 billion from selling property. The investigation also claims a link between the sell-off of public assets and a sharp rise in redundancies at some councils.

Government urged to produce new rural strategy ahead of Brexit
Rural Services Network | March 5, 2019
Rural services providers and community organisations across England have called on the Government to produce an urgent comprehensive strategy for rural areas in preparation for Brexit, in light of a warning that people living in towns and villages “simply cannot afford to wait any longer for politicians to take their concerns seriously and act on them”.

Councils set for £1bn parking income
LocalGov | March 11, 2019
The RAC Foundation has stated that official data shows councils in England have previously under-estimated the surplus they will make from their parking operations, and on that basis they appear be on track to make a £1bn profit in 2019/20.

Councils calls for tougher regulations around sprinklers in high-rise buildings
LocalGov | March 12, 2019
Following the Grenfell fire tragedy local government leaders are calling for tougher rules governing the installation of sprinklers in high-rise buildings. The LGA has suggested that the height threshold at which automatic fire suppression systems are required in residential buildings should be lowered to 18 metres, down from the current 30-metres.

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Governance & Reorganisation

Ready for Purdah?

The countdown to the May local elections has begun and the period of heightened sensitivity known as ‘Purdah’ has kicked in. During this period, councils must be careful about publicity and the use of council resources. The Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity (“the Code” issued under section 4 of the Local Government Act 1986) states “During the period between the notice of an election and the election itself, local authorities should not publish any publicity on controversial issues or report views or proposals in such a way that identifies them with any individual members or groups of members. Publicity relating to individuals involved directly in the election should not be published by local authorities during this period unless expressly authorised by or under statute.” This does not mean that the council as a decision making machine, must grind to a halt - ordinary business must continue. Officers must therefore front issues, rather than members, and the information must stick to the facts. Purdah and the application of the publicity rules under the 1986 Act can be tricky, but this is something we have advised on many times and are happy to help if required.

Reorganisation

Meanwhile the Buckinghamshire unitary reorganisation is back on track after the judicial review challenge by three of the District Councils involved was refused permission. However it is understood that they are taking advice on their future options.

Funding

The recent spring statement by the Chancellor on 13 March confirmed that the economy continues to grow (albeit more slowly than before) but more people than ever are in work (unemployment is at 4%). There was little in the way of good news for local authorities with an inflationary funding increase and a few targeted sweeteners, whilst budget gaps for adults and children’s services continue to grow with increasing demand for services.

Further pressure is likely to be put on local authority budgets following the Court of Appeal’s ruling that a practice undertaken by landlords of empty commercial property to form companies that are then put into liquidation as a deliberate act to avoid the payment of business rates, is lawful (Rossendale BC v Hurstwood Properties & Wigan Council v Property Alliance Group). This is likely to cost local authorities millions of pounds. There will be a Parliamentary review of local government finance by the The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee – see below.

 

Legislation

The Local Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019
The Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) (Amendment) Order 2019
legislation.gov.uk | February 22, 2019
These instruments amend the rules that apply to combined authority mayoral elections and local authority mayoral elections. The rules are amended to remove the requirement that each candidate’s home address must be published during the election process and be included on the ballot paper. The instruments also remove the requirement for each candidate’s qualifying address to be published during that process.

The Representation of the People (Election Expenses Exclusion) (Amendment) Order 2019
legislation.gov.uk | February 22, 2019
This Order will exclude disability-related expenses, to the extent they are reasonably incurred, from the statutory definition of “election expenses”.

 

Publications & Guidance

Guidance for CFOs working in health and local government
CIPFA/HFMA | February 2019
Greater integration, with its focus on the ‘place-based pound’ and ensuring best use of scarce resources, is leading to joint appointments relating to the chief finance officer role. This publication sets out the roles of the CFO working across the NHS and local government. It considers the implications for the increasing number of CFOs working in a dual arrangement and looks at the similarities and differences between the roles in each sector.

Directly-elected mayors
House of Commons Library | February 18, 2019
This briefing paper explains the status of directly-elected mayors in English and Welsh local government, and the routes to establishing them, including the use of local referendums. It also includes an up-to-date list of elected mayors and statistics on previous referendums.

Parish and town councils: recent issues
House of Commons Library | February 26, 2019
This note addresses a range of recent issues affecting parish and town councils. It includes an explanation of what they are and their place in the local government structure; the powers they can exercise; how they may be established and abolished; and how complaints about them may be pursued. It also includes details of some policy issues that have arisen in relation to parish and town councils in the mid-late 2010s.

Learning the lessons from the transfer of public health to councils: An independent review of the impact of the transfer in county areas
County Councils Network / Shared Intelligence | February 26, 2019
This report follows suggestions from NHS England, in its Long-Term Plan, that some elements of public health commissioning should be returned to the health service.  Councillors said the report demonstrates these plans would be a ‘deeply retrograde step’, leading to spiralling additional costs and less investment in preventative services.  The CCN) called on the government to enhance – rather than downgrade county authorities’ role in public health by deliver sustainable and ‘fairer funding’ for rural public health and bigger role for councils in commissioning wider services.

The Community Paradigm: Why public services need radical change and how it can be achieved
NLGN | March 4, 2019
NLGN’s new report sets out an agenda for a new Community Paradigm so public services so are fit for today’s challenges and opportunities. The report identifies new principles for this paradigm based on practice, and a radical new policy agenda which comprises unconditional devolution, participatory and deliberative democracy and communities taking on direct service commissioning.

 

News

Bullying and harassment on the rise
LGC | February 14, 2019 [subscription only]
Formal grievances involving bullying and harassment by council staff have increased by 7.5% over the past three years, sparking concern about the impact of growing financial and workforce pressures on behaviour in local government.

Councillors take final step towards creation of new Weymouth council
LocalGov | February 25, 2019
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council councillors have approved the second formal Order relating to the creation of Weymouth Town Council, which comes into existence on 1 April this year.

Lancashire councils launch bid for new unitary super-council
Public Sector Executive | March 1, 2019
In a letter to MHCLG Secretary of State James Brokenshire, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale's leaders said they wanted to "pool resources" as "Pennine Lancashire".  If approved, the new unitary would take over responsibilities for the four areas from Lancashire County Council and also upset plans for a Lancashire Combined Authority.

Inquiry into local government finance launched by MPs
Public Sector Finance | March 7, 2019
An inquiry into local government finance has been launched to review its policy ahead of the 2019 Spending Review. The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee will examine how effective the existing funding set-up for local government is in providing resources to meet demands for local services across the UK.

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Contract Management

Private sector vulnerabilities

With Brexit uncertainty continuing to dominate the headlines, the private sector market also continues to show vulnerabilities as more high profile suppliers collapse. Interserve has just completed a pre-pack sale after its rescue plan was voted down, with administrators appointed over Interserve Plc and its assets moved immediately to a new parent company controlled by Interserve’s lenders.  Interserve have insisted that the deal, which involved all companies within the group moving over to the new owners and a cash injection of £110 million, will protect services and jobs. But will this mean business as usual, and what about customers who want to exercise their contractual rights triggered by the administration?

Added to this, the collapse of the £170m-turnover Swansea-based construction company Dawnus, is being hailed the Welsh Carillion. Reports are showing that the number of social care providers handing back contracts to councils has more than doubled.  The Public Accounts Committee has also published a report that one in five local bodies fail to safeguard value

These issues are raising more questions about the future and sustainability of private sector outsourcing.  Once again, the spotlight is drawn to ensuring strong contracts and providing for robust management and “living will” and exit arrangements. To develop successful and innovative projects for the future, it is critical that Councils understand their legal landscape and ensure that contracts are suitable to handle whatever the market can throw at them.

 

Publications & Guidance

Guidance: The Outsourcing Playbook
Government Commercial Function | February 20, 2019
This document outlines a series of key new policies for making outsourcing decisions and contracting outside suppliers for the delivery of public services.

Model Services Contract
Cabinet Office | February 22, 2019
This updated version of the Model Services Contract version reflects developments in government policy, regulation and the market including an updated joint controller schedule. It forms a set of model terms and conditions for major services contracts that are published for use by government departments and many other public sector organisations.

Procurement Policy Note 01/19: Applying Exclusions in Public Procurement, Managing Conflicts of Interest and Whistleblowing
Cabinet Office | February 25, 2019
This note seeks to remind in-scope organisations of their obligations in applying exclusions and managing conflicts of interest in public procurement. This note applies to all central government departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies. It is also relevant to the wider public sector such as local authorities and NHS bodies in carrying out procurements for public contracts, utilities contracts and concession contracts.

Public Procurement Review Service 2019
Cabinet Office | February 25, 2019
The Public Procurement Review Service provides a route for suppliers to raise concerns about public procurement practice.  These updates show the issues raised and resolution of cases investigated in 2018.

News

Double the number of providers handing back care contracts to councils
LocalGov | February 12, 2019
Research commissioned by Hft found that the number of social care providers handing back contracts to councils has more than doubled in 2018, due to cost pressures.

Amey facing £200m Birmingham divorce bill
LocalGov | February 19, 2019
In order to progress with its planned sale of subsidiary Amey, parent company Ferrovial may pay more than £200m to end its 25-year PFI contract with Birmingham City Council.

Businesses urged to “do more” to win public contracts
BBC Online | March 11, 2019
The Government is set to announce that businesses that are looking to secure public sector contacts will need to do more to help improve society.

Morgan Sindall lands 4,800 home maintenance contract 
Construction News | March 12, 2019 [subscription only]
This is a five year contract for St Albans and District Council, with a value of around £90m.

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Disputes

Budget setting

This month saw the outcome of Hollow & Ors, R (On the Application Of) v Surrey County Council. Surrey County Council successfully defended a judicial review challenge to its decision to approve savings of over £11m from its Special Needs and Disabilities (SEND) budget.

The claimants argued that the Council, in approving the SEND budget, had failed to comply with its statutory and common law duties to consult, and that to set a budget in a manner that identified proposed savings without knowing how such savings would be made (and therefore the impact that they may have), amounted to irrationality.

The Council argued that budgeting is part of a lawful local government accountancy practice that in part functions to identify potential areas of savings. The Council also accepted that when specific, identifiable ‘cuts’ were proposed, it would fully consult on those proposals according to its statutory and common law duties to do so.

The court agreed with Council that the budget had served only to identify areas of potential future savings, and therefore it was not possible to know what the potential impact of implementing such savings would be. Furthermore, it would be impossible to consult on them, since the precise form they would take was unknown at the time of the decision being made.  

This will be reassuring for those having to consider areas of saving when setting ever tightening budgets. It confirms that a budget identifying potential areas of cost savings does not require consultation and is unlikely to be subject of a successful challenge. It also serves as a reminder of the obligations to consult that arise once such budgetary proposals begin to be actualised.

 

Cases

Reading Borough Council v Mudassar Ali (2019)
A driver who could be booked via the Uber smartphone app was not unlawfully plying for hire under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 s.45. The app functioned like a minicab operator but replaced booking by telephone with booking by app.

 

Publications & Guidance

Update on payments for sleep-in shifts in social care: February 2019
LGA | February 20, 2019
The purpose of this briefing is to update councils on latest developments regarding payment of overnight sleep-in shifts in adult social care. Although this briefing focuses on adults, the issue is also relevant to children’s services.

 

News

Carers win right to appeal in £400m sleep-in shift battle
LocalGov | February 14, 2019
The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by the claimants in Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake. The appeal is against a decision by the Court of Appeal in July 2018 that night shift workers should only be paid the national minimum wage for the time during their shift that they are awake and working; rather than being paid for the whole of a ‘sleep-in’ shift.

Union refused an injunction over ongoing bin dispute
LocalGov | February 15, 2019
Strikes by refuse crews are likely to go ahead in Birmingham after Unite union was refused an injunction saying a specific grade staff member must be present on all crews.  However, the judge indicated that Unite was 'likely to have the better of the arguments' when the case came to full trial.

Basildon Borough Council prosecuted after wall collapses onto child
HSE | February 15, 2019
Basildon Borough Council has been sentenced after a brick boundary wall it part-owned collapsed and seriously injured a six-year-old girl.  An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Basildon Borough Council failed to take any action after receiving concerns about the wall’s condition from private tenants, two years prior to the incident.  Basildon Borough Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined of £133,333 and ordered to pay costs of £21,419.55.

Reading care workers late getting medical attention for vulnerable woman
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | February 21, 2019
Care workers in Reading did not follow emergency procedures to ensure a vulnerable woman received the correct medical attention, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.  The woman was being cared for by Reading Borough Council’s care provider, the Radis Group. The Ombudsman’s investigation found faults with the care provider’s actions, and also found the council’s safeguarding investigation was not robust enough in identifying the faults.

Community bus services 'under threat' as judicial review will be held into Government failure to enforce rules
Devon Live | February 25, 2019
The High Court has approved the Bus and Coach Association’s request for a judicial review application against the Secretary of State for Transport, regarding non-compliance and unfair competitive advantage by community transport operators in some areas, particularly regarding competitively tendered contracts for home-to-school and day care transport services for local authorities.

Autistic teen forced to move schools because of lack of resources
Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman | February 28, 2019
An autistic teenager was moved from her residential special school midway through her studies because of poor planning by Suffolk County Council, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.  The Ombudsman’s investigation found significant faults with the council’s handling of the situation.

Birmingham loses bid for refuse strike injunction
LGC | March 5, 2019 [subscription only]
The High Court has refused to grant Birmingham City Council an injunction against Unite union’s planned all-out refuse collection strike.  Unite has postponed the strike but is proceeding with a new ballot for industrial action. Unite is protesting about the Council making payment to non-striking GMB union members in a previous strike in 2017.

High Court sets June date for judicial review hearing over SEND funding policy
Local Government Lawyer | March 5, 2019
A High Court judge has granted permission to bring a judicial review challenge over the Government’s special education needs (“SEND”) funding policy.  The three claimants argue that councils are being left without enough money to fulfil their legal obligation of providing education for SEND pupils. The case will be heard in the High Court on 26 and 27 June.

Cornish boy left without proper education for year because of lack of joined-up approach by council
Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman | March 6, 2019
A Cornish boy with special educational needs, who was excluded from his primary school because of behavioural problems, missed out on full-time education for 12 months, a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigation has found.  The Ombudsman’s investigation found Cornwall Council did not provide him with the right support sooner because teams within the council did not communicate with one another.

Grenfell Tower: Prosecution file “unlikely” before 2021
BBC Online | 7 March 2019
Survivors' group Grenfell United said families were disheartened by a lack of official progress, but Scotland Yard said it would not hand a file to prosecutors until the end of a public inquiry into the disaster.

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Forthcoming Events

The First 72 hours After a Health or Social Care Crisis
Wednesday 22 May 2019, London

The First 72 Hours’ is crucial to establish a safe environment for your service users, the public and your workforce, informing and working with any investigators, the regulators and other stakeholders; and managing your internal communications and external reputation. This half day event is aimed at senior managers and professionals within the healthcare sector.

Procurement Update
Monday 13 May, Birmingham
Tuesday 14 May, Leeds
Wednesday 15 May, London
Thursday 16 May, Bristol

Join our Procurement team to hear legislative and policy developments, including guidance on dealing the procurement aspects of outsourcing and corporate financial distress after Carillion, case law - with a focus on development agreements in the light of the Faraday Court of Appeal decision, and Brexit.

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