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Local Authority round-up 14/04/22

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

£33 million support to resolve parental conflict

The government has announced that it will be providing £33 million funding to councils across England under the Reducing Parental Conflict programme to help resolve conflict between parents and improve children’s life chances. The new funding will enable councils to train more frontline staff who regularly come into contact with families facing conflict in order to help teach parents techniques to de-escalate conflict for the benefit of their children. DWP Lords Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott said “We know frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict between parents is harmful to children. And we know how to help. This £33 million investment builds on what we’ve started, supporting parents to deal with the root cause of their issues so they can move forward and offer their children a better chance at life.”

For more information please click here.

Enhanced funding to rebuild drug treatment services

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that all councils will receive a share of over £300 million of additional funding over the next 3 years to improve access to drug and alcohol addiction treatment and increasing the capacity of services. The first 50 councils to receive the enhanced funding in the year 2022 to 2023 have already been announced which include areas in County Durham, Leeds, Birmingham and Devon. Those areas were chosen for the first round of funding as they are the most deprived areas in England. The second tranche of enhanced funding for the next 50 councils will follow in 2023 to 2024 and the third will be in 2024 to 2025.

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Council in contempt of court for failing to comply with mandatory injunction

A council has been found to be in contempt of court for failing to comply with the terms of a mandatory injunction requiring it to finish the process of determining a placement for a young man diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder and severe learning difficulties, and in failing to provide an affidavit explaining the breach of the injunction. Following judicial review proceedings brought by the claimant (JS) against Cardiff City Council, the court had imposed, by paragraph 5 of its order (order), a mandatory injunction requiring the council to complete future placement planning for JS and to produce a care and support plan by 7 January 2022. Paragraph 6(a) of the order provided that if the council breached paragraph 5, its director of social services had to file and serve an affidavit by 7 January 2022 explaining why. By 7 January the council had identified two long-term placement options and was making enquiries as to other placements. It provided a care and support plan. However, JS’s parents did not agree that the two suggested placements would be in JS’s best interests and JS applied to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the council. The High Court held that applying the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt, the council had breached both paragraphs 5 and 6 of the order made by the court and was in contempt of court. Paragraph 5 unambiguously imposed an obligation to finish the process of determining JS’s placement and whilst the council had produced a care and support plan by the specified date it had not complied with the requirement to complete future placement planning by 7 January 2022, and still had not done so. While the need to agree a placement with JS’s parents had the potential to create difficulty in complying, in the absence of any application to the court to vary the terms of the order, any difficulty as to compliance only went to penalty. It followed that the council had also failed to comply with paragraph 6(a) of the order.

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New legislation to protect council tax discounts under Homes for Ukraine scheme

Minister for Refugees Lord Harrington has announced that new legislation will be coming into force which will protect sponsors’ council tax discounts for single persons and limit impact on council tax payments for those sponsoring a family in a second property under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Under the regulations, a Ukrainian who joins a sponsor’s home under the scheme will be ‘disregarded’ when council tax discounts are calculated in England to ensure that sponsors are not financially worse off. There will also be a 50% discount on council tax for empty or second homes that are used to house Ukrainians under the scheme. Lord Harrington said “These regulations will help ensure that sponsors are rightfully not financially penalised by opening their homes, and will provide clarity to local councils as they help us deliver this landmark scheme.”

For more information please click here.

Government announces new waste plans

The government has announced new waste plans which will mean that households will no longer need to pay to get rid of DIY waste, including plasterboards, bricks and bath units, in a bid to tackle fly-tipping. Under the proposals, councils will no longer be able to charge for the disposal of certain DIY waste. Some councils in England will also be awarded grants, from £450,000 funding, to spend tackling fly-tipping in their areas through trial projects including the installation of CCTV, AI and delivering education to their communities on fly-tipping.  Environment Minister Jo Churchill said “I want to make sure that recycling and the correct disposal of rubbish is free, accessible and easy for householders. No one should be tempted to fly tip or turn to waste criminals and rogue operators. Furthermore, the funding that we have announced for Local Authorities today will help them trial innovative new projects to put a stop to fly tipping. We will learn from the successes – and replicate them.”

For more information please click here.


International Trade

European Parliament adopts first reading position on draft Regulation introducing a derogation for investigational medicinal products for UK-dependent European markets

The European Parliament plenary session, on 7 April 2022, adopted its first reading position on a European Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 as regards a derogation from certain obligations concerning investigational medicinal products (IMP) made available in the UK with respect to Northern Ireland as well as in Cyprus, Ireland and Malta, introducing amendments to the original text of the Commission proposal. The draft Regulation would amend the Clinical Trials Regulation ((EU) 536/2014) (CTR), with retroactive application from 31 January 2022 (the date that the CTR becomes applicable). The Commission adopted this proposal because it acknowledged the difficulties experienced by certain British (summarised from phrases such as “parts of the UK other than Northern Ireland”) businesses to adapt due to high adjustment costs and complex logistics. The proposed Regulation would allow for imports of British IMP into the dependent markets without the need for manufacturing and import authorisation. This would be a permanent solution for Northern Ireland and a three-year derogation for the other dependent markets, which the Commission views as a sufficient transition period. Article 1 of the draft Regulation adds the required derogation into Article 61(1) of the CTR. The derogation applies to imports of British IMP into the dependent markets. For Ireland, Cyprus and Malta, the derogation would apply until 31 December 2024. Taking into consideration the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 30 March 2022 to approve the EP’s first reading position, it is expected that the Council will formally adopt the Regulation at first reading at one of its next meetings without further amendments after which it will be published in the Official Journal of the EU and enter into force.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Residents required to approve street names changes under new proposals

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has proposed changes to the way councils should engage with local communities on changes to the name of a given street. Under these proposals, councils will be required to get approval from local residents to change street names. The government has launched a technical consultation setting out its plans which includes modernising the three Acts which date from the early 20th century which govern this and replacing them with a single clear requirement for a residents’ vote on any changes to street names based on the principles set out in 1907 legislation. Housing Minister Stuart Andrew said “Up and down the country, street names often form a key part of an area’s history, cherished by the local community for the memories they hold and the places they represent. These proposals will strengthen local democracy by ensuring that councils in England get agreement from local residents in advance of any street name changes.”

For more information please click here.

Housing industry to pay £5 billion to address building safety scandal

The Government has announced that it has reached an agreement that will see the housing industry contribute £5 billion to ensure that the buildings they have built are safe for residents. The agreement, reached between Levelling up secretary Michael Gove and over 35 developers from the housing industry will see developers commit a minimum of £2 billion to fix their own buildings. The industry will also pay up to an estimated £3 billion through an expansion to the Building Safety Levy which will force industry to pay and protecting innocent leaseholders. Mr Gove said “Today marks a significant step towards protecting innocent leaseholders and ensuring those responsible pay to solve the crisis they helped to cause. I welcome the move by many of the largest developers to do the right thing. But this is just the beginning. We will do whatever it takes to hold industry to account, and under our new measures there will be nowhere to hide.”

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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