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Local Authority round-up 09/12/22

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

UK Shared Prosperity Fund plans announced

The government has approved local spending plans for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which succeeds EU structural funding. Now instead of the EU deciding where that money is spent, the government and local governments are able to determine this. £2.6 billion of funding is available and the government has been working with local leaders to determine where the funding is needed most. The government has now approved plans under which England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all receive at least as much money as did they when we were part of the EU but they will have greater say in how the money is used through council plans. Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison said “We are taking full advantage of being outside the European Union and unlocking billions of pounds of investment to help level up communities and spread opportunity across the UK. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will have tangible benefits for people up and down the country, from a young entrepreneur in need of a helping hand or those who want to gain the skills they need to secure a decent, well-paid job.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

High Court rules local authority failed to meet care needs of an autistic woman

The High Court has held that the London Borough of Croydon (council) failed to meet the care needs of a 27-year-old woman (claimant) with autistic spectrum disorder. Having initially determined that the claimant required 24-hour support, the council decided to fund 35 hours of support a week without giving reasons for the decision and without informing the claimant or her family. The court therefore:

  • Held that the council’s decision to provide the claimant with 35 hours of support per week from February 2022 was unlawful and made an order quashing the council’s decision.
  • Made a declaration that the council had unlawfully failed to meet the claimant’s needs between 19 August 2019 and 14 February 2022, in that it provided 30 hours of support to the claimant per week, instead of the 35 hours per week the council had assessed the claimant as requiring.
  • Held that the claimant’s personal budget and care and support plan, which the council prepared, was unlawful given the council had failed to follow the Care and Support statutory guidance.

The judgment reiterates the importance of a public authority giving reasons for its decision (albeit there is no general duty on public bodies to do so). In this case, it was particularly important that the council gave reasons for its decision given it was “radically” departing from its own recommendation as to the level of support the claimant required.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

UK and Ukraine reach agreement in principle for new digital trade deal

On 30 November 2022, the government announced an agreement in principle for a new Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) with Ukraine. The DEA follows a decision to eliminate all tariffs on all Ukrainian imports to the UK and the new agreement aims to help Ukraine rebuild its economy and enable Ukrainian and UK businesses to trade with each other more efficiently. An “explainer” document sets out the commitments made under the following headings:

  • Open and inclusive digital markets. The countries will enable duty-free trade in digital content, co-operate on competition policy, support small businesses, co-operate in developing standards for digital trade, promote an inclusive digital economy and take action to protect a free and open internet.
  • Data flows. Both countries will allow the free flow of trusted data between the UK and Ukraine for business purposes; any restrictions applied (for example to protect personal data), must be proportionate and non-discriminatory. The parties have agreed common principles on personal data protection will make efforts to expand the digital availability of government information for public use and encourage data innovation.
  • Consumer and business safeguards. The parties agree to protect consumers online and against unsolicited messages and to co-operate on enforcement. They will cooperate on cybersecurity and, subject to exceptions, businesses entering each other’s markets will not be obliged to share cryptographic information or source code.
  • Digital trading systems. The countries will recognise electronic contracts as being valid and legally enforceable and will permit e-signatures. They will also support the cross-border interoperability of domestic electronic invoicing systems and generally recognise the electronic versions of trade administration documents. They will share best practices and information on logistics.
  • Financial services. The parties will prohibit unjust financial data localisation requirements and collaborate on developments in financial services.
  • Tech partnerships. The parties will share best practices and discuss frameworks for the development and use of emerging technologies and collaborate on interoperability between digital identity systems.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Levelling Up Secretary signs landmark devolution deals

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has this week signed historic devolution deals which transfer money and power over building, regeneration and skills into the hands of local leaders in Suffolk and Norfolk. As part of the deals, Suffolk and Norfolk will receive over £1 billion to invest in their communities and from May 2024 both counties will directly elect the leader of the council. Mr Gove said “I am delighted to sign two further historic deals for Suffolk and Norfolk that will see communities handed hundreds of millions of pounds to use as they – not Whitehall – see fit. Ultimately it is local people who know what is best for their areas and it is my job to make sure local leaders have the levers to address the issues unique to them.”

For more information please click here.

Councils to receive £50 million homelessness support

The government has announced that councils will be provided with a £50 million funding boost in order to help protect vulnerable families from homelessness. The £50 million of government support is part of a £2 billion package of support to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the next three years. Councils will have the flexibility to target the additional financial support at those who need it most which could include helping households at risk of eviction pay off their rent arrears or supporting families struggling to secure a new home with their search and deposits. Minister for housing and homelessness, Felicity Buchan said “We understand that many people are struggling this winter and we are taking action to protect vulnerable families at risk of homelessness this Christmas. The increased support we are announcing today will make a real difference to those most at risk by helping them to pay their rents or find new homes.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinar

Procurement Law Update 2022

Our annual Procurement Law Update will be taking place on Monday 12 December at midday. Our experts will cover a wide range of subjects including, but not limited to:

  • The Procurement Bill – latest developments
  • A case law update featuring the most important cases from the last 12 months
  • Application of the latest guidance

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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