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Local Authority round-up 02/09/22

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.

Commercial

£1.14 billion East Midlands devolution deal agreed

A landmark £1.14 billion devolution deal for a new combined county authority (CCA) is on offer for the East Midlands, to include a new elected regional mayor. All four city and county council leaders in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby, and Nottingham met with secretary of state Greg Clark in Derby this week to agree to the deal in principle. If approved locally and nationally, the deal will lead to the creation of the first-ever CCA – one of the biggest in the country. The four councils will now work on the details of the deal, with a local consultation to take place later this year. The deal provides the region with a guaranteed income stream of £38 million a year over 30 years, as well as an additional £16 million for new homes on brownfield land, and control over a range of budgets including the adult education budget. It follows the signing of a 30-year £540 million devolution deal at the start of this month to transfer powers to a directly elected mayor in York and North Yorkshire. Levelling up Secretary Greg Clark said “I am impressed by the way councils in the region have come together to agree the first deal of this kind in the country, which will benefit residents in all of the great cities, towns and villages across the area of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Taking decisions out of Whitehall and putting them back in the hands of local people is foundational to levelling up and this deal does that.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

LG&SCO issues deprivation of capital guidance for councils

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) has issued Deprivation of Capital: Guidance for practitioners (guidance), which is aimed at councils involved in deprivation of capital cases. The guidance is based on the LG&SCO’s decisions on deprivation of capital cases, where someone is accused of intentionally depriving themselves of capital when a local authority assesses how much they should contribute to care fees. As this contribution is partly based on a person’s financial resources, including their income and capital, this can benefit the person financially if it results in a reduction in their payments towards the cost of their care support. The guidance sets out the LG&SCO’s approach to investigating complaints of this kind, and how local authorities should apply the Care and Support (Charging and Assessment of Resources) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2827) and the Care and Support Statutory Guidance. The guidance identifies several key issues and learning points for local authorities, including:

  • Not considering all relevant factors or making proper enquiries.
  • Wrongly applying the Personal Expenses Allowance to people funding their own care.
  • Treating all gifts as deprivation.

For more information please click here.

New framework of regulation to tackle industrial emissions

The government has announced the new Best Available Techniques framework which will aim to reduce pollution caused by industrial emissions. The new framework will see the UK government and Devolved Administrations (the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and DAERA) working with industry and local councils to identify the best techniques available to them to prevent or minimise emissions and their impacts on the environment. The new framework will aim to develop higher standards for industrial emissions and a new governance structure will also be established, with new independent bodies – called the Standards Council and the Regulators Group – consisting of government officials and expert regulators from all four nations of the UK. A UK Air Quality Governance Group will also be established to oversee the work of the Standards Council and the delivery of the requirements under this new framework. The new regime will bring local councils into the BAT framework for the first time by involving them in the governance and standard-setting processes. Environment Minister Steve Double said “Tackling emissions is essential to reduce the damaging effects of air, water and land pollution on people and the environment. The new framework and collaborative approach will ensure higher standards for industrial emissions across the UK and a more effective governance structure to support industry in finding the best available techniques to meet these standards.”

For more information please click here.

Welsh Government consultation on health and social care reforms

The Welsh Government has launched a consultation on changes to primary legislation in health and social care including proposals to eliminate profit from the care of looked after children. The consultation also covers proposals to:

  • introduce direct payments for continuing health care;
  • extend mandatory reporting of children and adults at risk; and
  • amend regulation of service providers, responsible individuals, and the social care workforce. This includes extending the definition of social care worker to include childcare and play workers.

Chapter one outlines legislation to support the commitment to eliminate profit from the care of children looked after. The focus of the proposal is on the private provision of residential care for children and independent sector foster care. The consultation document notes that the Welsh Government does not believe that profits should be made from “caring for children facing particular challenges in their lives.” It therefore intends to bring forward legislation to end this, meaning the future care of children in Wales will be provided by not-for-profit, public sector or charitable organisations. Chapter two proposes enabling access to Direct Payments for adults who are eligible for continuing NHS Healthcare. Chapter three considers whether the duties to report children and adults at risk of harm, abuse or neglect – within the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 – should be expanded to apply directly to individuals within relevant bodies. Currently, a ‘relevant partner’, as defined within section 162 of the 2014 Act, includes the police, probation services, a local health board or NHS trust, the Welsh Ministers or Secretary of State (in discharging certain functions) and other local authorities. The consultation report invites views on whether including a legal requirement upon certain individuals to report children and/or adults at risk to the relevant local authority would better protect people in Wales from harm. Chapters four, five and six propose amendments to the Regulation and Inspection of Social Care (Wales) Act 2016. These intend to enable the existing regulatory frameworks to operate more effectively and improve how Care Inspectorate Wales regulates and inspects services and how Social Care Wales supports and regulates the social care workforce. Responses to the published consultation document are required by 7 November.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Government considers temporary rent cap on social homes

A proposed cap on social housing rent has been proposed by the Government in order to help support households with the cost of living. Under the proposals, the Government is considering caps at 3%, 5% and 7% for the coming financial year. It said the move would save households an average of £300 per year and provide financial stability for four million families. It has launched a consultation and invites views from social housing tenants and landlords on the proposals. The consultation closes on 12 October 2022 and a decision is expected to be announced later this year. Housing secretary Greg Clark said “We know many people are worried about the months ahead. We want to hear from landlords and social tenants on how we can make this work and support the people that need it most. The rent cap would be temporary and would apply from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. The consultation also seeks views on whether to set a limit for 2024-25. The Government understands this will impact social housing landlords and is engaging fully with the sector.”

For more information please click here.

New fast-track planning route for major infrastructure projects

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Greg Clark has announced a new fast-track planning route for major infrastructure projects in England and Wales. This will allow major infrastructure projects such as road improvements and offshore wind farms to be delivered more quickly as there will be shorter deadlines set for examinations of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. He further announced that more than £750,000 has been awarded to council-led projects to help councils get better outcomes for local communities in major infrastructure projects. Mr Clark said “Particularly in a time of high inflation, things need to be done more quickly or costs of major infrastructure projects will rise. These changes will help deliver new infrastructure more quickly, by speeding up the planning process which often moves too slowly.”

For more information please click here.

Consultation on Building Safety Regulator’s operational standards rules

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a consultation on the standards it is developing for building control bodies and registered building control providers in England, which it will apply in carrying out its function as the Building Safety Regulator (BSR). These standards will apply in relation to buildings or works that fall outside the regime for higher-risk buildings introduced by the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA 2022). They will govern how a building control regulator (a council or registered building control provider) goes about performing its functions. The consultation covers:

  • Operational standards rules (OSRs) for building control regulators.
  • Monitoring arrangements, including reportable data and KPIs for building control bodies. These have been published as a separate document, but will eventually comprise Annex A to the OSRs.
  • The strategic context for building control oversight. These have been published as a separate document, but will eventually comprise Annex B to the OSRs.

The consultation ends on 25 October 2022 and the HSE intends the OSRs to apply from April 2023.

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

The Building Safety Act 2022: What do you need to know?

With the introduction of the Fire Safety Act last year and the more recent Building Safety Act 2022, it might feel like the rules and regulations for social housing providers are in a constant state of flux. As such the social housing team at Ward Hadaway would like to invite you to attend a free webinar on 28th September at 12pm, discussing the ins and outs of the Building Safety Act 2022. At this webinar Construction specialist, Neil Williamson, will give an overview of the Act, helping you to understand what it means for registered providers and local authorities. Neil will also offer his keen insight into how these changes will impact new developments and the contractual arrangements that providers will now need to implement. Fire safety and general building safety is always of utmost precedence, and this discussion promises to contain the useful and practical advice, to guide you, our colleagues in the social housing sector, through the recent changes in regulation.

For more information and to book your place, please click here.

Holiday pay update for schools

The Supreme Court recently handed down a judgment on holiday pay which will have significant implications throughout the education sector. Join us on 15th September at 10am where Graham Vials and Tom Shears will look into this judgment in more detail, including what it may mean for schools in terms of historic financial liability and the steps which schools should be considering moving forward in response to this judgment.

For more information and to book your place, please click here.

Mental wellbeing and suicide prevention

The most recent figures confirm there were 6292 deaths by suicide in the UK in 2020. Each one of these incidents will have had a devastating effect on the individual’s family, friends and colleagues, making the extent of those affected by these tragedies significantly more wide-ranging. World Suicide Prevention Day (10th September) aims to raise awareness of how we can create an environment where fewer people die by suicide. Please join us on Thursday 8th September, when we will be joined by Claire Russell, Founder and CEO of Mental Health in Business, and Suicide Prevention Educator and Advocate.

For more information and to book your place, 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.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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