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Local Authority round-up: 01/03/24

Our Local Authority round up provides brief summaries of topical information on a weekly basis, to keep you aware of the changes and updates relevant to you.


The Local Government Association warn of cuts to neighbourhood services

Two thirds of councils surveyed by the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that communities will see cuts to local neighbourhood services this year, including waste collection, road repairs and leisure services, as a result of funding gaps.

Ahead of the Spring Budget, the LGA has asserted that the Government need to provide further funding to address the growing financial crisis facing local councils. This message has been echoed by councils who have stated that, ahead of the General Election, all political parties should provide manifesto commitments to reform the system of local government funding so it can deliver all vital local services.

In recognition of the acute funding and demand pressures facing councils, the Government provided £600 million extra funding in 2024/25 to help support councils balance budgets. However, this additional funding should be assessed in the context of the LGA’s assessment of a £4 billion funding gap across 2023/24 and 2024/25. As such, the survey by the LGA shows most councils believe the extra money will help to some extent, but the majority (58 per cent) said this impact would be “small”.

The LGA’s submission to the Chancellor, ahead of the Budget on March 6th, seeks to not only bridge the funding gap, and protect local services, but to encourage the Government to trust councils to reshape services and communities to help deliver major national priorities.

For more information, please click here.

Planning and Housing

The Competition and Markets Authority recommends streamlining the planning system

The Competition and Markets Authority recently commissioned a housebuilding market study in response to the Government failure to meet its housebuilding target by 50,000 homes. In light of the report, the competition watchdog has recommended a “streamlining” of the planning system to boost housebuilding and has called for “clear, consistent” housebuilding targets.

According to the report, the planning backlog is the result of many council planning departments being under-resourced and lacking clear targets to deliver the number of homes needed in their area.

The key proposals arising from the report are as follows:

  • Ensure local authorities put in place local plans and are guided by clear, consistent targets that reflect the need for new homes in their area
  • Streamline planning systems to significantly increase the ability of housebuilders to begin work on new projects sooner
  • Introduce measures to improve the capacity of council planning departments to enable them to process more planning applications

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The Government pledge £31 million to protect elected representatives

The Government has recently committed an additional £31 million to protect the UK’s democratic processes from disruption by providing new security provisions to elected representatives.

The investment will be used to enhance police capabilities and expand cyber security advice to locally elected representatives.  It will also ensure all elected representatives and candidates have a dedicated named police contact to liaise with on security matters, significantly expanding the support provided under current policing arrangements.

The Government’s additional funding for the protection of elected representatives follows the MP security review, which was introduced in light of the murders of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess.

For more information, please click here.

Upcoming Events

Webinar : Employment law update for Schools

On Tuesday 5th March, at 10am, employment lawyers Tom Shears and Heather Ramsay will cover material changes and developments that HR professionals and school leaders ought to be aware of, including:

  • The reforms to holiday pay coming into effect from April 2024 and what this means for schools after Harpur Trust v Brazel
  • Upcoming extension to pregnancy and maternity law protection
  • Changes to the flexible working request regime; and
  • A summary of recent legal cases in the education sector

To register your place, please click here.

Webinar: Health and Wellbeing – Supporting those who are grieving in the workplace

On Tuesday 26th March, between 10am and 11.30am, we are hosting a Health and Wellbeing webinar in collaboration with Recovery4Life. During this session we will be joined by a panel of experts including (among others) John Devitt, CEO of Recovery4Life, and Andy Langford, Clinical Director for Cruse Bereavement Support, who will discuss the topic of grief, providing practical advice to assist employers in supporting employees who may be grieving.

To register your place, please click here.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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