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Local Authority round-up 04/03/22

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

New £160 million fund to support adoptive families

The Government has announced a new £160 million fund over three years to help children in care find adopted families more quickly. The three-year funding package will help reduce the delays in matching children with the right families and provide adoptive families with more support. This includes cognitive therapy, family support sessions and activities to help children recover from earlier traumas like abuse or neglect. Sarah Johal, National Adoption Strategic Lead, said “I welcome the new funding for Regional Adoption Agencies which will help us transform the adoption system by bringing together best practice and testing out new innovative approaches to recruitment; matching; early help and adoption support. Our ambition is to ensure services are delivered to the same high-quality standards across the country.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Mandatory vaccination for health and social care sectors to be revoked

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 (SI 2022/15) will 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. On 9 February 2022, the government published a consultation seeking views on the revocation of vaccination as a condition of deployment across all health and social care in the light of changed clinical guidance. On 1 March 2022, the government published its response to the consultation. 90% of the 90,000 responses to the consultation supported the revocation of mandatory vaccination in the health and social care sectors. There was some variation between different groups, with members of the public most likely to support revocation (96%), whereas 30% of managers and 22% of organisations providing health and care services opposed revocation. The government has, therefore, decided to introduce revocation regulations that will come into force on 15 March 2022. While the government’s intention is to revoke mandatory vaccination, it considers that workers in the health and social care sectors have a professional duty to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Therefore, the government will work with the NHS and social care stakeholders as well as professional regulators to increase vaccine uptake. A separate consultation will consider amendments to the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Control of Infections to strengthen requirements in relation to COVID-19. The government has also updated operational guidance documents on vaccination of people working in care homes and social care settings other than care homes to take account of the decision to revoke mandatory vaccination.

For more information please click here.

Face covering requirements in Wales narrowed to certain indoor public areas

On 28 February 2022, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No 6) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/180) came into force which amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1609) (Principal Regulations) by providing an exhaustive list of the premises in which face coverings are required. The face covering requirement now applies to the indoor public areas in retail premises (premises of any business offering goods or services for sale or hire, including financial services providers, post offices and shopping centres), premises of veterinary surgeons and animal grooming services, storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off points, premises of estate or letting agents, developer sales offices and show homes, premises of close contact services (hair salons and barbers, nail and beauty salons including tanning and electrolysis services, and body piercing and tattooing services), premises used for the provision of takeaway food, premises used for the provision of medical or health services, premises used for the provision of social care services and vehicles when being used for driving lessons or driving tests. The amendments mean that the face covering requirement no longer applies to particular types of public settings that fall outside of this exhaustive list (for example, leisure and entertainment premises and visitor attractions). The amendments also clarify that the face covering requirement does not apply to residents of the social care premises listed when the residents are on the premises.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

UK and New Zealand sign new free trade agreement

The UK and New Zealand have signed a new free trade agreement (FTA), which is the second brand new FTA to be negotiated by the UK post-Brexit (following the signing of an FTA with Australia in December 2021). The FTA is broad in scope and includes, for example, commitments relating to the eventual elimination of all tariffs on trade in goods (subject to rules of origin requirements), trade in services and investment, and sectoral commitments on financial services, telecommunications, legal services and other areas, special visa arrangements for contractual service suppliers, independent professionals, intra-corporate transferees and business visitors, digital trade and cross-border data flows, access to public procurements and regulatory standards, including in relation to labour and environmental standards and competition policy. The parties will now need to complete their domestic requirements to ratify and implement the FTA before it can enter into force. The UK government has explained in its draft explanatory memorandum that it will need to introduce new primary and secondary legislation to implement the FTA. The House of Commons International Trade Committee has published a new call for evidence seeking views on the new FTA by 3 April 2022.

For more information please click here.

UK and Singapore sign a new digital trade deal

The UK and Singapore have signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) which followed the announcement of an agreement in principle on 9 December 2021. The DEA will enter into force after both parties have completed their respective domestic ratification and implementation procedures. The DEA includes commitments not to impose customs duties on electronic transmissions, introduce unjustified data localisation requirements or require transfer of intellectual property, including source code and cryptographic information, to support the development of safe and secure cross-border electronic payments, including by adopting internationally accepted standards and promoting interoperability between e-payment systems, to digitise more trade administration documents, permit electronic signatures, electronic contracts and electronic invoicing processes, and work towards mutual recognition of electronic authentication and signatures and to promote personal data protection, ban misleading, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair commercial practices, and make it easier for consumers to opt out of unsolicited “spam” emails. On financial services, the DEA includes specific commitments to permit the transfer of financial information and data, promote transparency for accessing electronic payments, and co-operate on international standards and on innovative financial services such as financial and regulatory technology. The parties also commit to revitalise the existing UK-Singapore FinTech Bridge. The parties have also signed memoranda of understanding on cybersecurity, digital identities and the digital facilitation of trade.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

£30 million funding to regenerate brownfield sites

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced £30 million of funding to transform derelict and underused brownfield sites to create new homes. West Midlands, Greater Manchester and the Tees Valley Combined Authorities have already received their share of funding in order to create 2,500 new homes. Housing Minister Rt Hon Stuart Andrew MP said “Transforming derelict brownfield sites into vibrant places where people want to live and work is a key part of our mission to level up the country and is something I have supported for my entire career. The funding announced today will breathe fresh life into former industrial sites, creating thriving urban communities and building more homes so young people and families have the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

Right to work update – Digital checks and other updates

Every employer in the UK has a legal obligation to prevent illegal working by checking that their employees have the right to work in the UK. Join our Immigration Employment team on Thursday 10th March at 10am for a free webinar exploring the changes to the right to work checks that are being introduced from 6 April.

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

The impact of Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace

On Monday 21st March, Claire Russell, Founder and CEO of Mental Health in Business will be joining us to discuss the role of a Mental Health First Aider and the impact they can have in your workplace. We will also be joined by Vicky Sands, Human Resources Lead at Organon (UK, Northern Europe and Israel), who will talk about the impact Mental Health First Aiders have had on her organisation.

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.

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