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Local Authority round-up 06/01/2023

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

UK’s new subsidy control system comes into force

The UK’s new subsidy control system came into effect on Wednesday 4 January 2023, meaning that UK authorities will be free to deliver money to the businesses that need it most in a quicker, fairer, and simpler way. The new system replaces the previous EU system, now that the UK has left the EU, and means that UK subsidy is no longer subject to time-consuming bureaucratic process, subject to European laws and the European Commission. Subsidies will now be tailored to local needs, with public authorities and devolved administrations having added flexibility to ensure they can get support to where it’s most needed as quickly as possible. Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said “Our new subsidy control regime is another example of us making the most of our opportunities to be free of Europe’s bureaucracy and forge a future tailor-made for the UK. New rules mean UK authorities will be free to deliver money to businesses in a quicker, fairer, and simpler way, without longwinded and unnecessary approval processes to bog us down.”

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Government provides funding for walking and cycling schemes

The government has announced that it will be providing £32.9 million of funding to help councils encourage people to walk and cycle more in a bid to get fit and save money. The funding will be provided to councils to enable them to train staff so that they can improve how they design and create active travel schemes. This could include innovations such as better designed school safety zones to encourage active travel, improved walking and cycling infrastructure on local high streets as well as new cycle and wheelchair paths. Xavier Brice, Chief Executive Officer of Sustrans, the charity that makes it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle, said “This funding is crucial in ensuring that travelling actively is a safe and accessible option for all, particularly as we work towards the government’s goal of 50% of all journeys in towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030.”

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Levelling Up Secretary confirms funding package for councils

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has announced a £59.5 billion funding package for councils for the next financial year to enable councils in England to continue to deliver vital frontline services. The funding announced is an increase of 9% on 2022-23. In addition, the government also confirmed a new £100 million scheme for councils to protect the most vulnerable households from council tax rises and £2 billion in additional grant funding for adult and children’s social care for 2023/24. Mr Gove said “Local government plays an absolutely vital role in helping us to level up, support the most vulnerable, and deliver key services that people rely on every single day. We recognise the pressures councils are facing right now and this spending boost will provide the support and funding local authorities need to continue delivering first rate public services.”

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Deal reached on North East devolution package

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has announced a historic devolution deal for the North East. If approved following a local consultation, powers covering skills, transport and housing will be devolved to a new elected mayor who will be given the power and money to level up the region. If approved, the region will be expected to receive funding worth £1.4 billion over the next 30 years. The new North East mayoral combined authority would cover Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham. It would have control of a dedicated adult education budget and have a greater say over the local skills improvement plan. Mr Gove said “Devolution is all about letting leaders who live and breathe the region decide what is in their best interests, for their people and for their businesses. A new mayor will ensure local priorities in the North East are at the heart of decision-making, while our billion-pound funding boost will provide the financial certainty needed to level up the area right now and for years to come.”

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Regulatory

Consultation to extend licensing hours for Coronation

The government has announced that it is proposing to extending licensing hours for the King and Queen Consort’s Coronation due to take place in May 2023. Under the proposals, licensing hours will be extended from 11pm to 1am from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 May in pubs, clubs and bars in England and Wales under Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003 which permits the Home Secretary to make an order relaxing licensing hours to mark occasions of “exceptional national significance.” The proposals will be subject to public consultation before they can be approved.

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Planning and housing

Right to Shared Ownership scheme

More tenants in social and affordable housing are to be helped onto the property ladder through the government’s Right to Shared Ownership scheme. The scheme will enable eligible tenants to buy a share of their home, between 10% and 75% of their property’s worth, as part of government’s support for first-time buyers. In order to be eligible, tenants must have been in social housing for 3 years, their property must have been built under the government’s Affordable Homes Programme 2021-26 and they will need to have lived in it for a year. Minister for Housing Rt Hon Lucy Frazer said “Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions people take and this is just one of the ways we are helping more first-time buyers reach their goal.”

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Councils to receive share of £654 million homelessness fund

Councils are set to receive their share of a £654 million funding package aimed at tackling homelessness over the next two years. The Homelessness Prevention Grant will be used to provide temporary accommodation for families, help individuals at risk of becoming homeless pay deposits for new homes, and mediate with landlords to avoid evictions. Around £24 million of the funding will help councils support homeless domestic abuse victims. Minister for housing and homelessness, Felicity Buchan, said “Everyone should have a safe and secure home. This Government is determined to prevent homelessness and to get vulnerable families and individuals the support they need. Whether it’s emergency housing, support to pay a deposit, or mediation to prevent eviction, today’s package will provide help to those who need it the most at the discretion of those who know them best.”

For more information 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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