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Local Authority round-up 03/11/23

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.


Government to boost AI funding to ‘future-proof’ UK’s skill base

The Government announced, on the 31st of October, that the UK’s AI skills base will be future-proofed with a £118 million boost to skills funding. This is said to ensure that the country acquires the top global expertise and fosters the next generation of researchers in order to seize the benefits of this technology.

To do this, the Government unveiled plans for an additional 12 Centres for Doctoral Training in AI, which will benefit from £117 million in Government funding through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). This is on top of funding for 15 science and technology scholarships at the UK’s world-leading universities. A new visa scheme has also been revealed, which seeks to make it easier for innovative businesses to bring AI researchers to the UK.

Alongside the support for skills, the Government has announced that it seeks to capitalise on the potential of AI to improve how we work and boost our quality of life. To do this, the Government named 64 NHS trusts that will benefit from a £21 million rollout of AI technology to improve how chest X-ray and CT scans are used to diagnose serious medical conditions. The Government has also provided up to £2 million for Oak National Academy to trial new uses of AI in education, including helping teachers lesson resources based on the Academy’s curriculum content.

For more information please click here.


The Procurement Act 2023 receives Royal Assent

On the 26th October the Procurement Act 2023 received Royal Assent and is now expected to come into force in October 2024.

The Act establishes a new public procurement regime following Brexit, and aims to deliver the Government’s promise to grow the economy by creating a simpler and more transparent system. This new system hopes to ensure better value for money and reduce costs for business and the public sector. The Act also seeks to streamline the procurement process, and afford procurers more flexibility to negotiate prices and innovative solutions with bidders.

The Government has announced that they will be providing all public sector contracting authorities access to a comprehensive, centrally-funded, learning and development package, as well as guidance materials to help prepare.

To compliment this, we will be producing an in-depth analysis of the specific regulations in the 2023 Act, including an evaluation of the key changes and their impact on public authorities. These evaluations will be published through our Procurement in a Nutshells in due course. Sign up for our procurement mailing list here.

For now, more information can be found here.

Planning and housing

Homes England invests £5 million to build 200 new council homes

Homes England has utilised new flexibilities to award a £5 million grant to Somerset Council for a housing regeneration programme, allowing over 200 new council houses to be built in North Taunton.

The Housing and Regeneration Agency awarded the grant from the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP), which provides funding to support the development of affordable housing. The grant allocation is the first of its kind, following the new regeneration flexibilities to the AHP that the Government had agreed with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) earlier this year.

It is proposed that 162 energy- inefficient homes will be demolished in North Taunton, and replaced with 229 council homes for affordable rent. Homes England will be funding 66 of these new build replacement homes, with the remaining homes funded by Somerset Council

This forms part of Homes England task of delivering £7.39 billion in funding to build approximately 130,000 affordable homes by 2026 in England (excluding London).

For more information please click here.

Upcoming webinars

Webinar series: Data Protection

Register your interest for our on-going webinar series on ‘Data Protection’ for in-house lawyers, DPOs and senior management in private and public sector organisations. The series will run throughout 2023, providing attendees with up to date information on key Data Protection topics. The short one hour sessions will be delivered by our experts with allocated time for you to ask any questions you may have. The next in our series ‘Data transfers – crossing borders’ will take place on 14 November 2023.

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

Immigration Update: Managing Compliance and Tricky Immigration Law Issues in the Workplace

Our Employment department will be delivering a legal update, via Zoom, on the 14th November 2023 at 10am .This webinar will address the key issues regarding immigration law and will provide practical tips for managing compliance, within the workplace, in practice. The short one hour sessions will be delivered by our experts with allocated time for you to ask any questions you may have.

For more information or 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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