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Local Authority round-up 11/11/22

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

Scottish government announces £35 million funding

The Scottish government has announced £35 million of funding to help tackle budget pressures caused by rising inflation and economic uncertainty. The Emergency Budget Review (EBR) sets out that “The financial situation facing the Scottish Government is, by far, the most challenging since devolution. As a result of inflation, the 2022-23 budget is worth around £1.7 billion less than when it was introduced to Parliament in December 2021. In addition, we face significant, and entirely understandable, demands from public sector workers for pay increases that reflect the increased cost of living. We are also dealing with the unforeseen – though entirely understandable and accepted – costs of resettling refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. We want to act to the fullest extent possible to support households and businesses impacted by current economic conditions. We do not begrudge paying any of these additional costs. At a time of crisis, it is right that people look to their Government to support them. However, to meet these costs – that were not anticipated when our budget was set – requires a difficult process of re-prioritisation.” The EBR for 2022-23 identifies funding for a range of initiatives to support people with the increased cost of living, including doubling the Fuel Insecurity Fund, doubling the Scottish Child Bridging Payment to £260 and a new £1.4 million Island Cost Crisis Emergency Fund to help island households manage higher energy costs. It has also confirmed funds to local authorities to support Discretionary Housing Payments.

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Bill of Rights Bill 2022-23 to resume passage through Parliament

On 7 November 2022, it was reported that the Bill of Rights Bill 2022-23 will resume its passage through Parliament “within weeks”. In September 2022, the Bill was dropped by the Liz Truss government and did not progress to its second reading, which had been scheduled to take place on 12 September 2022 (see Legal update, Bill of Rights Bill 2022-23 dropped by government). However, it is now understood to have been reinstated under the government headed by the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. The Bill will repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and reframe the UK’s legal relationship with the ECHR, to which the UK will remain a signatory.

For more information please click here.

Government appoints Finance Commissioner at Liverpool City Council

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has expanded the Government’s intervention at Liverpool City Council with the appointment of a Commissioner for Finance. Stephen Hughes, an experienced finance professional and former Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council, has been appointed to the role, which will oversee the council’s financial management. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the move came after a report on Liverpool’s progress revealed “serious shortcomings, particularly around financial management and senior leadership.” Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said “I am committed to helping Liverpool City Council come out of this intervention as a stronger organisation and that is why I am taking further steps to put the Council on a firmer footing. Liverpool is a city of fantastic potential and under the guidance of the new Finance Commissioner I am confident they will be able to rebuild trust with those they serve and deliver for the taxpayer.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and Housing

Government planning definition of “gypsies and travellers” ruled unlawfully discriminatory

A decision on a planning application made by settled Travellers by North West Leicestershire District Council and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities has been quashed by the Court of Appeal. The claimant, Ms Smith, had appealed against the order of Pepperall J. The judge had refused her application for an order to quash a planning inspector’s dismissal of her appeal against North West Leicestershire’s decision to refuse her application for planning permission for a permanent site for Gypsies and Travellers at Coalville. The judges said the principal issue concerned the August 2015 amendment by the Secretary of State to the definition of ‘Gypsies and Travellers’, in the policy document Planning Policy for Traveller Sites. Before that, the definition expressly included those who had permanently ceased travelling as a result – for example – of disability or old age but the amendment excluded them. They noted it was accepted on behalf of the Secretary of State that the exclusion indirectly discriminated against elderly and disabled Gypsies and Travellers. Appeal judges accepted the original judge erred in his approach to the applicable test and the burden of proof. They said: “The judge erroneously imposed a burden of proof, a ‘high hurdle’, on Ms Smith in circumstances where the onus was on the Secretary of State to make good his case on justification.” Sir Keith Lindblom, Lord Justice Holroyde and Lord Justice Coulson said the case concerned the exclusion of Gypsies and Travellers who are no longer nomadic from planning rules concerning their sites. The judges noted “The consequences of this outcome for future decision-making on applications for planning permission and appeals in which the relevant exclusion is engaged will inevitably depend on the particular circumstances of the case in hand. In every such case it will be for the decision-maker – whether a local planning authority or an inspector – to assess when striking the planning balance what weight should be given, as material considerations, to the relevant exclusion and to such justification for its discriminatory effect as obtains at the time, and also to undertake such assessment as may be required under Article 8 of the Convention.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

Webinar: Housing Management Law School – Autumn term

The latest Autumn term of our Housing Management Law School will be held online via Zoom on 17th November at 10am. The Law School is free to attend and exists to deliver training to Registered Providers of Social Housing across the country, educating and updating their housing management staff with the essential legal knowledge that they need. As usual during this session, we will feature a roundup of recent pertinent case reports, alongside the regulatory and legislative changes affecting the housing law world. Our revision topic this term is succession in Social Housing: A timely revisit to the succession rules for secure and assured tenancies, the background law, the practical aspects and the all-important paperwork. The hot topic for the upcoming Autumn session is the charter for social housing residents. The social housing white paper was published in November 2020 and promised to improve the safety and quality of social housing, increase transparency of landlords, and provide tenants with an voice. We will look in detail at what the government has done, and proposes to do to meet these commitments.

For more information or to book a place please click here.

Seminar: Public sector property update

Taking place on the 29th November at 8am, the seminar will feature members of our dedicated public sector property team. They will ensure you are up-to-date with the latest developments and changes affecting property, land and estates in healthcare and the wider public sector. The Seminar is taking place in person in our offices at Sandgate House, Newcastle.

For more information or to book a place please click here.

 

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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