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Local Authority round-up 04/02/22

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

Government unveils levelling up plan

The Government’s long-awaited Levelling Up White Paper sets out that by 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal. Unveiled by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove the White Paper sets out a plan to transform the UK by spreading opportunity and prosperity to all parts of it. The economic blueprint will see nine new county deals, two new combined authorities and a host of new powers for existing metro mayors in England. The Government has also pledged a ‘simplified, long-term funding settlement’ for devolution, while the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will be decentralised across the whole of the UK. In order to make and implement these policies, the government has set out twelve ‘missions’, which it has pledged to meet by 2030, which are:

  • Raising pay, employment and productivity in every area, each containing a globally competitive city
  • Increasing investment in R&D outside the South East by at least 40%
  • Raising transport connectivity across the country to the standard of London
  • Create nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G for the majority of the population
  • Increase reading, writing and maths standards of primary school children
  • Significantly increase skills training in every part of the UK
  • Lower the gap in Healthy Life Expectancy between local areas
  • Improve wellbeing in every area of the UK
  • Increase pride in place, including satisfaction with town centres and community engagement
  • Increase first-time home buyers and cut non-decent rented homes by 50%
  • Cut homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime
  • Give every area that wants one a devolution deal with powers approaching the highest level of devolution and a simplified, long-term funding settlement.

Mr Gove said “For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued. As some areas have flourished, others have been left in a cycle of decline. The UK has been like a jet firing on only one engine. Levelling Up and this White Paper is about ending this historic injustice and calling time on the postcode lottery. This will not be an easy task, and it won’t happen overnight, but our 12 new national levelling up missions will drive real change in towns and cities across the UK, so that where you live will no longer determine how far you can go.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Court of Appeal dismisses appeal over council waste collection and alleged state aid

The Court of Appeal has given its judgment on an appeal against a November 2020 High Court order that granted an application by the defendant, Durham County Council, for summary judgment in an action brought by The Durham Company Limited (TDC), alleging breach of the EU state aid rules. TDC claimed that the commercial waste services provided by the Council benefitted from unlawful state aid as they were subsidised by the Council’s household waste services, funded by the Council Tax. TDC submitted that its own commercial waste services were being placed at a disadvantage and that it had suffered losses. TDC claimed damages and also injunctive relief and a declaration that the Council had breached the state aid rules. The High Court held that TDC had no real prospect of establishing an entitlement to any of the relief sought and so gave summary judgment for the Council. A Court of Appeal majority (Arnold and Coulson LJJ) rejected TDC’s appeal, agreeing with the High Court that TDC had no real prospect of showing that any breach of Article 108(3) of the TFEU that may be established could be sufficiently serious so as to give rise to a claim for damages and that declaratory relief as to the past position under Article 107(1) of the TFEU would serve no useful purpose. Any such declaration would be academic given that the UK is no longer bound by EU state aid law. Edis LJ gave a short dissenting judgment, while acknowledging the likelihood that any further proceedings would result in the failure of the claim and accepting the strength of the observation that there were no known cases where damages were awarded against a member state for breach of the state aid rules.

For more information please click here.

Consultation on removing mandatory vaccination for care staff

Since 11 November 2021, workers in Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated care homes in England must be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are exempt under the Health and Social Care Act (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No 2) Regulations 2022 extend mandatory vaccination to workers in the health and social care sector who have face-to-face contact with service users, from 1 April 2022. However, in light of “dramatic changes” (greater population protection and the reduced severity of Omicron compared with Delta) since the original decision, the government is now of the view that a statutory mandatory vaccination requirement is no longer proportionate given the impact on the existing NHS staffing crisis. On 31 January 2022, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, announced the government’s intention to revoke both sets of regulations relating to mandatory vaccination in the health and social care sector and care homes, subject to a two-week statutory consultation and parliamentary approval. In a parliamentary debate, the Secretary of State confirmed that unvaccinated care home workers dismissed from their roles may choose to work there again, without reinstated continuity of employment. The consultation is expected to be published shortly. NHS leaders have sent a letter to NHS employers requesting that they do not serve notice of termination on unvaccinated employees.

For more information please click here.

UK Immigration Rules eased for care workers

On 24 January 2022, the Home Office published Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 1019 to add care workers and home carers (Standard Occupational Classification 6145) to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and make the roles eligible for the Skilled Worker Health and Care Worker visa route, disapplying the usual requirement that a role must be skilled to at least Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) level 3. The change follows a recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), in its December 2021 Annual Report which noted “severe and increasing difficulties faced by the care sector in terms of both recruitment and retention” following the end of free movement. By adding these roles to the SOL, applicants will benefit from lower salary requirements (the higher of £20,480 per year or £10.10 per hour) and reduced visa application fees compared to other Skilled Workers. However, they will need to submit criminal record certificates in support of their applications from countries they have been present in for 12 months or more (while aged 18 or over) in the ten years before they apply. While home carers are included in the same occupation code as care workers, the changes are not designed to enable home carers to be sponsored as Skilled Workers unless they are working for an organisation which meets the sponsorship requirements. Private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor Skilled Workers. The changes will take effect on 15 February 2022.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Government announces Brexit Bill

The UK government has published a press release and an accompanying policy paper announcing its intention to bring forward a Bill to change status of EU law and retained EU law. The Bill will ensure that retained EU law can be more easily amended or repealed and the paper anticipates the creation of new powers to amend retained EU law through secondary legislation, where appropriate. It will also end the special status of EU law in the UK legal framework by removing the continued effect of supremacy of EU law over domestic law made before the end of the transition period, and the need to promote legal certainty about the relationship between retained EU law and other UK law. Finally, it will make any further changes recommended by the government’s retained EU law status review.

For more information please click here.

UK parliamentary committee opens inquiry into the future of retained EU law

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has launched an inquiry, Retained EU Law: Where next? This inquiry examines the future of retained EU law in the context of the UK government’s reviews into the substance and status of retained EU law. The Committee is looking at questions such as in what ways is retained EU law a distinct category of domestic law, and to what extent does this affect the clarity and coherence of the statute book?, How has the concept of retained EU law worked in practice since it came into effect and what uncertainties or anomalies have arisen, or may arise in the future? It also looks at whether retained EU law should be interpreted in the same way as other domestic law and whether the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union have any relevance in the interpretation of retained EU law. The deadline for submission of evidence is 14 March 2022. The Committee is interested to hear from a broad range of stakeholders, including lawyers, academics, representative bodies and think tanks.

For more information please click here.

UK and Greenland to launch negotiations for agreements on trade and fisheries

The Department for International Trade (DIT) announced that it had formally launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with Greenland. The most significant economic impact of an FTA would likely be a reduction in tariffs of up to 20% on imports of fishery products from Greenland. DIT have also highlighted the importance of co-operation with Greenland given its “vital geo-strategic location in the Arctic” and the potential to collaborate on UK priorities including science, technology, climate change and development. The announcement also states that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plans to begin parallel negotiations to gain access to Greenland’s waters for the UK’s fishing industry.

For more information please click here.

Consultation launched for new UK-Israel trade deal

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has launched a consultation for a new UK-Israel trade deal during a 3-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ms Trevelyan met with Israel Minister of Economy Orna Barbivai this week to begin discussions and the UK government will launch an eight-week consultation to seek the views of business and the public, ahead of negotiations starting later this year. Ms Trevelyan said “This new trade agreement is part of our commitment to build a stronger relationship with Israel and is a huge opportunity to deepen ties with a fellow democracy and tech superpower so together we can create well-paid, high value jobs in both countries.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

New regeneration programme announced to transform towns and cities

Under plans set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, twenty towns and cities are to be transformed in order to create new homes and jobs. Those twenty areas will be prioritised within the new £1.5 billion Brownfield Fund and a further £28 million will be allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority and £13 million for the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, to fund the projects most needed to support local levelling up ambitions. Wolverhampton and Sheffield have been identified as the first of those places to be regenerated. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said “We are on a mission to regenerate the nation, transforming derelict areas in our towns and cities into thriving places people are proud to live and work in. We are refocusing Homes England and empowering local leaders to support levelling up, delivering Kings Cross style transformational regeneration projects across the country – starting in Wolverhampton and Sheffield. This huge investment in infrastructure and regeneration will spread opportunity more evenly and help to reverse the geographical inequalities which still exist in the UK.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

Fire and the Building Safety Bill – a developer review

Architects Ryder, engineers and fire safety consultants Hydrock and Ward Hadaway are coming together for a free webinar on Thursday 17th February at 1pm to look specifically at the changes to fire safety standards contained in the Bill, and the impact that this is likely to have for developers, whether commercial, residential, health and local authority estate, or social housing providers. Using the Design / Build / Operate process as our roadmap, we will look from all angles at the changes this will bring, and implications on time, cost and quality for a project. With experts from Ward Hadaway’s construction, housing management and regulatory teams contributing alongside specialist architects and fire safety consultants, it will provide a fully rounded review of this complex but all important topic. Chair Alistair McDonald from Ward Hadaway’s Built Environment team will be putting the questions to our panellists, including some of your own questions submitted during registration or via Zoom’s Q&A feature during the event.

For more information and to book 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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