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Local Authority round-up 10/06/22

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

Slow growth ahead for UK economy

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has predicted a dramatic fall in the ranks for the UK in terms of growth rate. Growth of 3.6% is expected this year, followed by 0% next year, taking the UK from the second fastest growing G7 economy to the slowest. The reason for the dramatic downturn has been blamed on rising prices, higher taxes, higher interest rates and a reduction in business activity. It is hoped that the negative outlook will be somewhat mitigated by £15 billion of government emergency measures. The OECD also predicts on the other hand that inflation in the UK will halve towards the end of 2023, which should slow the increase in the cost of living to some extent. The UK economic downturn is happening in tandem with a general global slowdown, fuelled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

For more information please click here.

Government announces new funding to support greener industries

The government has announced new funding of over £31 million, which will be channelled into making British industry greener, primarily through supporting a number of environmental competitions. The overarching aim is to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions, whilst also slashing energy bills. A portion of the funding will target the replacement of fossil fuel red diesel with greener alternatives such as green hydrogen. This will be in conjunction with the Red Diesel Replacement Competition, which has welcomed projects developing low carbon alternatives for construction, mining and quarrying. Investment will also be made into helping businesses switch to cleaner power sources in conjunction with the Industrial Fuel Switching competition. The Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) Innovation 2.0 competition will support projects developing novel CCUS technology and processes that reduce the cost of deployment. The new funding adds to previous and ongoing government support for greener industries, such as the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme.

For more information please click here.

UK corporate reporting and audit regime to be revamped

The UK government has announced measures to improve the audit regime and increase corporate transparency, in a bid to restore trust in big business. The move is expected to safeguard jobs, and protect against large and sudden collapses, whilst ensuring UK businesses continue to attract investment. A new regulator ARGA (Audit Reporting and Governance Authority), will replace the current Financial Reporting Council. ARGA will have tougher enforcement powers, including being able to investigate the corporate reporting and audit activities of large companies, and issue fines to directors who do not comply with their duties in this respect. For the first time certain large private companies will fall within the scope of the regulator. Failing auditors will not be allowed to review the accounts of large companies, and there will be measures to counter the dominance of the ‘Big Four’ audit firms, with FTSE350 companies having to undertake audits partially with a challenger firm. Other measures will include a review of corporate reporting requirements for smaller businesses in order to dispose of any unnecessary reporting which may be hampering these entities. The audit overhaul comes in the wake of the collapse of BHS and Carillion, which caused the loss of more than 20,000 jobs.

For more information please click here.

Shortfall in EV infrastructure funding

Charge point operator Liberty Charge has called on the private sector to bridge the funding gap for Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure, warning that the there is a £1.5 billion shortfall in government funding. The UK will fall short of achieving net zero goals if the 300,000 public rapid transit charge points required to move the nation to EVs are not installed. Neil Isaacson, CEO of Liberty Charge, said “Local authorities urgently need more resources and funding to boost electric vehicle infrastructure, if the UK is to meet the deadline it has set itself of ending sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030”.

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Crown symbol to return to pint glasses and government considers imperial measures

In a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee the government is reintroducing the Crown mark on pint glasses, in a departure from ‘overbearing’ EU rules. As far back as 1698 British pint glasses were stamped with a Crown mark to indicate the volume within and give consumers confidence in the measure of their drinks. The Crown symbol has since fulfilled the legal requirement to display conformity markings on British pint glasses used to measure and sell drinks, however in 2006 EU legislation replaced the crown mark with the CE mark. The government has also launched a consultation to review units of measurement for consumer transactions, in a move towards the reintroduction of imperial measurements. An EU directive which came into effect in 2000 required that only metric units be used for trade purposes, causing an overhaul for traders in conduct of business transactions. The law has caused long-term contention, and now the government aim to give businesses and consumers greater choice over units. However the return to pounds and ounces has been criticised by some as a backwards step and a nostalgia war.

For more information please click here and here.


International Trade

UK and US reach agreement on steel and aluminium

From the 1st June 2022 the new UK-US trade arrangement over steel and aluminium exports will come into effect, the agreement having been reached at the end of March. The trade relationship took a downturn when tariffs were levied on British steel and aluminium during the Trump administration, the argument being that the US needed to protect steel and aluminium industries on national security grounds. Exporters can now export up to a certain volume free of tariffs, with volumes in excess of this still being subject to levies. The duty-free volumes are “historically-based” and will rejuvenate a supply chain which employs 80,000 people. In return the UK will lift reciprocal duties that it imposed on US products, such as whiskey, Harley Davidson motorcycles and Levi’s jeans. Similar deals have also been reached with the EU and Japan in an effort by the Biden administration to heal trade relationships which were also hampered during the Trump era. The Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “It’s exciting to see how our thriving transatlantic trade relationship is creating brilliant opportunities for UK businesses, supporting jobs and driving economic growth.”

For more information please click here and here.

UK-US state level agreement signed

On 27th May 2022 the UK entered its first state level Memorandum of Understanding with Indiana in a bid to pave the way for future trading and investment between UK and Indianan business. Indiana opens significant opportunities to the UK, particularly in the renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals sectors. Indiana currently invests $1.4 billion in UK goods, and the new agreement is expected to expand this.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Consultation launched on compulsory purchase compensation reform

The government are running a consultation from 6 June 2022 to 19 July 2022 on the reform of compensation provisions where land is acquired compulsorily. The new provisions will be brought forward in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill as part of the wider government levelling-up strategy to close the gaps in productivity, health, incomes, and opportunity between the south east and the rest of the country. The reforms seek to address viability issues for local development projects, giving local authorities the power to regenerate struggling areas. In particular, the reforms address the way prospective planning permission is taken into account when valuing land to be compulsorily acquired. One of the four principle elements of compensation is the open market value of the land. Currently, section 14 of the Land Compensation Act 1961 allows for prospective planning permission to be taken into account when calculating the open market value, and this is known as the ‘hope value’. Section 17 of the LCA 1961 further allows appropriate alternative development to be taken into account. Landowners can claim hope value either relating to the prospect of a planning permission being granted on their and, or relating to appropriate alternative development (AAD) for which a certificate of appropriate alternative development (CAAD) must be obtained. The new compensation provisions, which can be found in Part 7 of the Bill, seek to amend sections 14 and 17 of the LCA 1961 and alter the way hope value is calculated. Among other measures, there will be a single route for calculating hope value based on the likelihood of AAD, the burden of the costs of obtaining a CAAD will shift from the authority to the landowner, and only the equivalent of planning certainty will be allowed in relation to AAD, if a CAAD is obtained for that AAD. The new provisions seek to strike a balance between compensating those subject to compulsory purchase fairly, whilst preventing unfair increases in the value of privately owned land resulting from policy decisions. There have been calls to go even further than the measures being introduced in the Bill, and the government is seeking views and evidence on how using the existing use value as a basis for compensation will be in the public interest. The argument is that compensating based on existing use value would allow more land value to be captured and invested in the project for the public benefit. For example, schemes which would otherwise have been unviable may become possible under this valuation method, or existing schemes may have scope for improvement.

For more information please click here.

New policy introduced to protect and enhance ancient woodland

The government have updated environmental policy in recognition of the value offered by England’s ancient and native woodlands and ancient and veteran trees. The policy Keepers of time: ancient and native woodland and trees policy in England builds on previous policy and aims to protect and enhance these habitats for future generations, as well as identify the threats and risks facing them. It is hoped that the improvement and extension of ancient woodland will bring other benefits, including economic growth, support of health and well-being, and the protection of cultural heritage and landscapes. Protective measures announced by the government include the creation of a long-established woodland inventory, the updating of the ancient woodland inventory, requiring local planning authorities to consult the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities before granting planning permission for developments affecting ancient woodland, and reviewing the National Planning Policy Framework in this area. The synergy between this policy and other current policies is expected to reap further environmental benefits, including the improvement of carbon sequestration, achievement of climate targets, and preservation of biodiversity.

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

Certainty in an uncertain market

Join us for the latest in our ‘In conversation with…’ series. We are hosting Nick Salmons, Director, Corporate Lending of Shawbrook Bank, and Chris Foster, Principal Consultant for Expense Reduction Analysts on 14th June 2022 to discuss financial management and marketability.

The webinar is hosted by our own Emma Digby, who is also joined by her colleague Jonathan Pollard – an experienced corporate lawyer who is immersed in the merger and acquisition market.

For more information and to register, 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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