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Local Authority round-up 05/11/21

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.


£6 million ‘Trees Call to Action Fund’ announced

Applications for a new £6 million fund start from 3 November, with environmental charities, not-for-profits, councils and protected landscape bodies encouraged to apply. The fund will be delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Defra and the Forestry Commission who will provide grants of £250,000 to £500,000 to projects across England to plant more trees in order to create more jobs and improve access to nature. Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said “This new Fund will help fund regional and national partnerships of charities, local authorities and others to turn ambitions into actions, to engage communities and landowners in tree planting, and to develop skills to help deliver our England Trees Action Plan.”

For more information please click here.

LGA’s response to Autumn 2021 Budget and Spending Review

On 27 October 2021, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered the Autumn 2021 Budget and Spending Review.  The Local Government Association (LGA) has welcomed the new grant funding that the government will pay to councils over the next three years to support local services. However, it remains concerned that the additional funds will help meet some, but not all, of the extra cost and demand pressures that councils currently face to provide services at their current levels. Although the LGA describes as “positive” the government’s various proposals to invest in skills, transport, housing and new school places for children with special educational needs, it remains disappointed that the government has not provided additional funding to address existing pressures on adult social care and has not increased public health funding. There remains a concern that the money allocated to social care from the Health and Care Levy will not be sufficient to fund reforms.

For more information please click here.


Strengthened COVID-19 measures announced in Wales

On 29 October 2021, strengthened measures were announced in Wales due to rising rates of COVID-19. Of particular relevance to employers is a change to the self-isolation requirements for fully-vaccinated household contacts of persons with symptoms or who have tested positive for COVID-19.  With effect from 29 October 2021, fully vaccinated adults living in a household with someone who has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate until they have received a negative PCR test. Those who are unvaccinated should self-isolate for ten days and take a PCR test on days two and eight. The Welsh Self-isolation guidance has been updated to reflect this change. The announcement emphasised that employers must continue to undertake specific coronavirus risk assessments and take reasonable measures to minimise the exposure to, and spread of, COVID-19. Employers should also make it clear that it is a legal requirement for face coverings to be worn in indoor public places. The Welsh Government is continuing to encourage everyone to work from home wherever possible. In addition, as part of the strengthened measures staff and secondary school students in Wales will be encouraged to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests and from 15 November 2021, the use of COVID passes will be extended to theatres, cinemas and concert halls in Wales.

For more information please click here.

International Trade

Select Committee reopens inquiry into UK trade negotiations with New Zealand

The House of Lords International Agreements Committee has reopened its call for evidence in relation to the inquiry into ongoing trade negotiations between the UK and New Zealand. The Committee originally launched the inquiry in July last year and the decision to reopen the inquiry follows the recent announcement by the Department for International Trade of an agreement in principle for a new free trade agreement with New Zealand. A list of 18 new specific questions covering different aspects of the agreement in principle is included in the call for evidence. The questions also address the potential impact of the agreement in principle on different groups, including the devolved nations, the agricultural and food industries, manufacturers and the services industry. Specific questions include whether the digital trade provisions will serve as enablers for businesses in the UK and whether the intellectual property chapter protects UK products, artists and performers. The Committee expects the call for evidence to remain open until the agreement is signed (which may take several months, although the exact timeframe is not known), but in the first instance has asked for submissions to be made by 26 November 2021.

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

£66 million funding to help rough sleepers announced

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced £66 million of funding to provide safe and warm accommodation over winter for rough sleepers and to provide treatment services for drug and alcohol dependency. £52 million is available under the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant scheme which has already been allocated to 60 councils. A further £3.8 million has been provided under the Homelessness Transformation to voluntary, faith and community groups to provide rough sleepers with safe places to stay.  A further £10 million is also available under the Winter Pressures Fund with areas most in need of support to tackle rough sleeping able to bid for a share of the funding. Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes MP said “Rough sleepers are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and we must help them off the streets and end the plight of rough sleeping once and for all. That means providing somewhere safe and warm for them to stay, and this funding will be a lifeline for thousands as the temperature drops this winter. We are also helping those trapped in drug and alcohol addiction and giving them the stability they need to turn their lives around.”

For more information please click here.

Claimant ordered to pay costs to council for pursuit of “hopeless” planning case

The High Court has awarded the London Borough of Barnet costs of £16,969.90 against a resident who pursued a “hopeless” planning case. A defendant who attends an oral renewal permission hearing is not usually entitled to their costs of doing so, absent exceptional circumstances. The court considering costs at the permission stage is allowed a broad discretion as to whether, on the facts of the case, there are exceptional circumstances justifying the award of costs against an unsuccessful claimant. The judge considered there were exceptional reasons justifying the award to the council of its costs of attending the hearing (as well as preparing the acknowledgement of service and summary grounds). The judge considered that most, if not all, of the claimant’s arguments were devoid of merit and hopeless and the claimant filed substantial submissions in greatly expanded pleadings following the refusal of permission, to which the council needed to respond.

For more information please click here.

Upcoming Webinars

As you may well know we run a programme of webinars on a wide range of topics, listed below are those webinars upcoming in the next few weeks which may be of interest to you:

Recruiting from overseas – an immigration law update

The skilled labour shortage in the UK is having a detrimental effect on countless businesses across many sectors. As a result, increasing numbers of employers are looking to recruit staff from overseas in order to fill these gaps in their workforce. It is now nearly a year since the UK’s immigration system was overhauled to apply to both EU and non-EU workers and on 10th November at 10am our immigration experts will be discussing the impact of the new UK immigration system, who needs a visa to work in the UK, how to apply for a sponsor licence to sponsor non-UK nationals for a visa, what you need to know about employing individuals who require a visa and alternative visa types that do not require sponsorship.

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

Housing Management Law School – Autumn term

We are delighted to invite you to the latest Autumn term of our Housing Management Law School, held online via Zoom on 11th November at 9.30am. As usual during this session, we will feature a roundup of recent case reports, regulatory and legislative changes in the housing law world.

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

CPD Programme – managing capability: performance and sickness absence

The second webinar in our CPD Programme will focus on managing capability: performance and sickness absence. Join us on Tuesday 23rd November at 10am. These sessions are completely free and will take place by Zoom, so they will not disrupt your day. They are perfect for HR professionals and managers who have responsibility for managing people. You will have the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature, or our teams will be on hand for drop-in sessions for attendees after each event.

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

The office, reimagined for a post-Covid world

At this free webinar on 1st December at 10am, Simon and Daniel Harrison, CEO from True Potential will be talking to employment partner and health and wellbeing speaker Jamie Gamble. They will share their experiences of how businesses can create a “destination” office environment – a place to attract colleagues back into a shared workplace from their home working environments.

For more information or to secure 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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