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Local Authority round-up 01/06/22

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.


Procurement simplified by discarding EU rules

The new Procurement Bill was debated in Parliament this week and is expected to become law next year. The Bill will discard 350 bureaucratic EU rules and replace these with a simple framework for securing public sector contracts. The move will level the playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises making it easier to bid for contracts, and it is expected that government spending with SMEs will continue to increase as a result. The Bill will also increase transparency in the procurement process, so that public money can be more properly scrutinised. According to the government the main benefits of the Bill include controlling public money, reducing red tape, making it easier to do business with the public sector, levelling-up, taking tougher action on underperforming suppliers, effective crisis procurement, and protecting national security. Liz Crowhurst, CBI Deputy Director for Policy, said: “The new regulations will make working with government easier and more attractive to businesses of all sizes, and industry stands ready to help translate the benefits from paper into practice.”

For more information please click here and here.

Allocation announced for a record level of UK research funding

Allocations for the £25.1 billion budget for national science and research agency UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) has been announced. The highest level of funding to date, investment will include nurturing a new cross-council approach to talent initiatives, infrastructure projects, and core budgets for UKRIs seven research councils. It is hoped that the distribution will support levelling-up, encourage post-pandemic business investment, and help achieve the ambitious target for UK R&D investment to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Science Minister George Freeman said: “This significant investment will support our ambitions to make the UK a science superpower, delivering growth opportunities right across the country while helping the research community tackle the great scientific challenges of our time.”

For more information please click here.

More than 5,000 public buildings given high-speed broadband

UK government levelling-up efforts have resulted in the connection of over 5,000 public buildings such as schools, hospitals and libraries, to ‘gigabit’ speed broadband. Faster speeds will create better experiences for all users, for example, time saved for hospitals and police downloading large files such as x-rays and CCTV footage. Positive knock on effects will be a boost in broadband speeds for neighbouring homes and businesses with providers being easily able to extend the network, and the creation of new jobs. Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Fast and reliable broadband is vital to households, businesses and the public services we rely on every day. That’s why, on top of our transformative £5 billion Project Gigabit investment to improve rural connectivity, we have upgraded thousands of schools, libraries and hospitals across the UK to first class broadband fit for the future.”

For more information please click here.


Report: local authorities are key in achieving the levelling-up agenda and preventing climate change

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has published a report (Rising to the climate change challenge: The role of housing and planning within local councils), written and researched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). Several recommendations are made regarding the role of local councils in tackling climate change and contributing to the levelling-up agenda, with particular emphasis on housing and planning matters. Current climate-change prevention efforts by councils around the UK could be maximised and upscaled with more support from housing and planning policies, with the report identifying regulatory gaps, such as the developer-led system in England risking the quality of future homes. The report emphasises that the market cannot drive levelling up, and that there should be certainty around funding streams for councils to tackle climate change, secure affordable housing delivery and retrofit exiting stock. Other recommendations include the restoration of powers to local authorities which have been removed through the expansion of permitted development rights, the improvement of relevant skillsets within local authorities and connected industries, and a shift in priorities for the Planning Inspectorate in England and Wales, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division in Scotland and the Planning Appeals Commission in Northern Ireland.

For more information please click here and here.

International Trade

New visa route for top overseas graduates

The UK will attempt to attract top graduates from overseas by opening a new visa route. “High-potential individuals” who have graduated with a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from a list of eligible universities in the last five years will be awarded a two year work visa, whereas those with a PHD will be granted three years. A UK job offer is not required and candidates may bring family with them provided they have maintenance funds. The scheme has been criticised for inadequacies in the range of eligible universities, the requirement being that the university in question appeared in the top 50 of at least two of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings or The Academic Ranking of World Universities, in the year in which the individual graduated. However it is hoped that the scheme will grow the UK as a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information please click here and here.

UK border checks are outsourced to the EU

The UK is outsourcing post-Brexit animal and plant health checks at the border to the EU in an effort to overcome the mountains of red tape. The UK will take it on trust that goods meet current British standards, the likelihood being that they will, due to rigorous requirements within the EU and at the EU customs border. The move has been criticised as it amounts to discrimination under World Trade Organisation rules, with goods from non-EU sources being subject to more rigorous checks. However this is only an interim move before a digitised import checking system is introduced by the end of 2023.

For more information, please click here.

Planning and Housing

Eight towns to become cities

The results of the Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours Competition are out, and eight towns will be awarded city status. Applicants had to demonstrate how their “unique communities and distinct local identity meant they deserved to be awarded city status”. The eight successful places are: Bangor (Northern Ireland), Colchester (England), Doncaster (England), Douglas (Isle of Man), Dunfermline (Scotland), Milton Keynes (England), Stanley (Falkland Islands), Wrexham (Wales).

For more information please click here.

Roadside biodiversity map commissioned

Manchester Metropolitan University has been tasked by National Highways with creating a mapping system to document roadside biodiversity. In England the 4,300 miles of motorways and major A-roads are flanked by 28,258 hectares of green land – the National Highways’ ‘soft estate’, and the mapping system will contribute to efforts to enhance biodiversity in this substantial area. Road systems have a particularly negative impact on habitats, and animal and plant populations, and it is not easy or practical to make manual land surveys in roadside areas. The new system will collate environmental data to map the entirety of England’s strategic road network for the first time, and also integrate Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric. This will make it possible to more precisely target biodiversity investment in future.

For more information please click here.

Councils support communities in celebrating Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Over 16,000 street parties have been approved to celebrate the Queen’s 70 year reign. In some instances councils have waived administration fees in order to improve access, and it is hoped that the festivities will have a positive and lasting impact on the communities taking part.

For more information please click here.

Upcoming Webinars

Webinar: Certainty in an uncertain market

Join us for the latest in our ‘In conversation with…’ series. We are hosting Nick Salmons, Director, Corporate Lending of Shawbrook Bank, and Chris Foster, Principal Consultant for Expense Reduction Analysts on 14th June 2022 to discuss financial management and marketability.

The webinar is hosted by our own Emma Digby, who is also joined by her colleague Jonathan Pollard – an experienced corporate lawyer who is immersed in the merger and acquisition market.

Together our panel of experts will cover:

  • Is COVID bounce sustainable and having a long term effect on company valuations?
  • Supply chain distress.
  • Expense management.
  • Sound financial management and margin protection.
  • Enhancing value and attracting investment and buyers.

For more information and to register, please click here.

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this update, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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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