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Local Authority round-up 11/03/22

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

Councils awarded £11.6 million to improve air quality

The latest round of Air Quality Grants have been awarded to councils across England to deliver projects to improve air quality. The successful councils will share £11.6 million to fund local projects such as encouraging the uptake of green transport, introducing air quality measures in and around care homes, and delivering educational programmes for schoolchildren. Of this funding, £1 million will be used to improve public awareness about the risks of air pollution, which was one of the recommendations following the death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in 2013. Agri-innovation and climate adaptation minister, Jo Churchill, said “Air pollution is the single biggest environmental risk to public health. It has reduced significantly since 2010, but we know there is more to do, which is why we have doubled the amount of funding awarded this year to help local authorities take vital action. The projects supported by this latest round of funding include innovative local schemes to boost the use of green transport, increase monitoring of fine particulate matter – the most harmful pollutant to human health – and improve awareness of the risks of poor air quality around schools and in care homes.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Updated OFSI Russia sanctions guidance

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has published updated guidance on the financial and investment restrictions imposed by the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/855). The guidance details the Russian entities currently the subject of sanctions and defines the important terms used in the Regulations such as “Money-market instrument”, “transferable security”, “Government of Russia” and “a connected person”. The guidance then works through the various financial and investment restrictions imposed identifying, where applicable, exceptions to the restrictions provided for in the Regulations. Significantly however, the guidance, although amended, does not address the 2022 amendment regulations that have recently expanded the range of financial sanctions. The guidance details the licensing arrangements under the Regulations, provides contact details for OFSI and answers to frequently asked questions including worked examples of different scenarios that those operating in the financial and investment markets may be faced with concerning the Regulations. Given the rapidly evolving situation it is perhaps not surprising that the amended guidance already feels somewhat out-of-date. It is to be hoped that further guidance can soon be provided as the financial and investment communities seek to get to grips with their legal obligations regarding transactions with Russia and those connected with Russia.

For more information please click here.

Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2022 in force

The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations (SI 2022/194) entered into force on 1 March 2002. These regulations are made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 and amend the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/855) (2019 Regulations) by adding new financial sanctions to Part 3 (Finance) of the 2019 Regulations. Existing restrictions on dealing with certain financial instruments and providing loans and credit are amended to extend the sanctions prohibitions to a broader range of transferable securities and money market instruments (regulation 16, 2019 Regulations), and loans and credit (regulation 17). Further restrictions on correspondent banking relationships and processing of sterling payments are also introduced (in new regulation 17A of the 2019 Regulations). The amendments also introduce a power for the Secretary of State to designate persons for the purposes of that provision. These regulations also provide for exceptions to, and for licencing powers in relation to, those prohibitions. In particular, there is a provision to make clear that a licence may authorise acts which would otherwise be prohibited by any of regulations 11 to 17A for a particular period beginning with the coming into force of the prohibition, or the date of any designation made for the purposes of those provision. This would allow a period for persons affected to arrange their affairs to comply.

For more information please click here.

Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulations 2022 in force

The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/195) entered into force on 1 March 2022. The regulations, made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, extend the scope of the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/855) by extending the existing prohibition on the export, supply and delivery or making available of military goods to now cover dual-use goods and critical-industry goods and technology. What amounts to “critical-industry goods or technology” is specified in Schedule 2A. The regulations also extend the prohibition on the provision of technical assistance, financial services, funds and brokering services in relation to dual-use goods and technology and critical-industry goods and technology. The regulations have a number of carve outs in relation to personal items and diplomatic missions, the movement of aircraft and vessels and consumer communication devices. The licencing regime under the existing regulations is extended to cover the new prohibitions and there are transitional provisions in place to cover the supply of now prohibited items, technology and services where a licence had already been granted by the Secretary of State prior to the coming into force of the amendment regulations.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

HMRC no longer liable to restitutionary claims by customers

HMRC has published Revenue and Customs Brief 4 (2022) (new brief) on 1 March 2022 which replaces Revenue and Customs Brief 4 (2017) (previous brief). The new brief explains that any restitutionary claim against HMRC, under section 80 of Value Added Tax Act 1994, for VAT wrongly charged, lies with the supplier and that the customer’s only remedy (for VAT wrongly paid to the supplier) is against the supplier, without any exceptions. The previous brief followed the Supreme Court’s decision in HMRC v Investment Trust Companies [2017] UKSC 29 (ITC), which confirmed that a customer generally had no claim against HMRC but that EU law required, as a general principle, the possibility of such a claim where the customer’s recourse against the supplier is “impossible or excessively difficult”. The previous brief therefore provided that in “extremely limited circumstances”, the customer may have a claim against HMRC. The new brief explains that, from 1 January 2021, there is no right of action in UK law based on a failure to comply with any of the general principles of EU law (paragraph 3(2), Schedule 1, European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA 2018)), so that the EU law principle recognised in ITC is of no application in the UK. The new brief does not mention paragraph 39(6) of Schedule 8 to the EUWA 2018, which provides that paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1 does not apply in relation to any decision of a court or tribunal after 31 December 2020, which is a necessary consequence of any decision of a court or tribunal made before that date. This may be because HMRC considers that ITC does not displace the application of paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 1, on the basis that the court only recognised the existence of the relevant EU law principle but did not find that it was applicable on the facts.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

£5 million secured for home energy improvements

The South West Energy Hub will work with Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council to deliver over £5 million worth of home upgrades across Swindon and Wiltshire. The Hub, which is hosted by the West of England Combined Authority, secured the funding following a successful bid to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)’s Home Upgrade Grant fund. The £5,031,652 will be split across Swindon and Wiltshire, and used to install energy efficiency measures in 241 homes in the area, helping to raise their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to Band C. The upgrades will include wall and roof insulation as well as new low-carbon heating systems, thermostats and room heating controls. Swindon Borough Council leader David Renard said “With the climate crisis and steep rise in energy price rises, it has never been more important to support residents wherever possible in reducing their energy bills, making their homes warmer.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

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) and Claire Boardman, HR manager at Oasis Community Housing, who will talk about the impact Mental Health First Aiders have had on their organisations.

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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