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Local Authority round-up 15/07/22

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

Next round of School Rebuilding Programme announced

Sixty-one schools will be rebuilt or refurbished under the latest round of the Government’s School Rebuilding Programme. The projects will include updating and modernising buildings, and creating facilities such as new sports halls, music rooms, science labs and dining areas. Of the schools chosen, 11 are in the North West, ten in the North East and six in Yorkshire and the Humber. Education secretary James Cleverly said “Our School Rebuilding Programme is already making a difference to the lives of pupils and their teachers. It is creating greener school sites that are fit for the future and that local communities can be proud of. We know how important it is to have high-quality school facilities. That is why we continue to invest billions in our rebuilding programme.”

For more information please click here.

First cost of living payments to be paid

As part of the government’s £37 billion support package to ease cost of living pressures, over eight million households on means-tested benefits will automatically get the first instalment of the Cost of Living Payment from this month. This equates to almost one in four families across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland receiving £326 which will be sent to them directly. A second payment of £324 will also be paid later this year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “Today’s payment is the signal to millions of families that we are on their side and we have already promised more cash in the autumn, alongside other measures – including our Help for Households – to support the vulnerable and ease the burden.”

For more information please click here.

Council tax revaluation announced for Wales

The Welsh Government has announced that it will revalue all 1.5 million properties in the country under bold plans to modernise the council tax system. Wales’s minister for finance and local government Rebecca Evans announced a 12-week consultation on a revised regime. The current regime was devised in the early 1990s and critics claim the system is now out of date with a disproportionate impact on lower income families. Reforms could be completed as early as April 2025 and Welsh ministers have said that, although new tax bands will be created as part of a revised system based on more recent house prices, that does not ‘necessarily’ mean council tax bills will increase. The consultation is open now and responses may be submitted until midnight on Monday 4 October 2022.

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

New Domestic Abuse statutory guidance

New statutory guidance on domestic abuse has been published by the Home Office. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 statutory guidance sets out in detail what constitutes domestic abuse, how to identify it and best practices for responding. The statutory definition introduced in the Act incorporates a range of abuse beyond physical violence, including controlling or coercive behaviour, emotional, and, for the first time, economic abuse. It also recognises children who see, hear or experience domestic abuse as victims in their own right. Home Secretary, Priti Patel said “This statutory guidance will make clear what constitutes domestic abuse and how best frontline services can safeguard and support victims, including children, and accompanies the landmark Domestic Abuse Act, which will strengthen the response to domestic abuse across all agencies.”

For more information please click here.

Welsh parliament votes for 20mph default

The Welsh Senedd has approved legislation to lower the default national speed limit on residential roads and busy pedestrian streets in the country from 30mph to 20mph. Wales is the first UK nation to make the change, which it said would help save lives, develop safer communities, improve quality of life and encourage more people to make more sustainable and active travel choices. Minister for climate change Julie James said “I am delighted that the move to 20mph has received cross-party support across the Welsh Parliament today. The evidence is clear, decreasing speeds not only reduces accidents and saves lives, but helps improve people’s quality of life – making our streets and communities a safer and more welcoming place for cyclists and pedestrians, whilst helping reduce our environmental impact.” The new speed limits are currently being trialled in eight communities across Wales and will be rolled out nationally in September 2023. The Welsh Government said the new legislation will not apply a blanket speed limit on all roads, but would make the default limit 20mph, leaving local authorities to decide which roads should remain at 30mph.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Councils able to apply for a share of the new £180 million Brownfield Land Release Fund 2

Under plans to transform derelict and underused brownfield sites across England into thousands of new homes, creating thriving communities and levelling up the country, councils will be able to apply for a share of £180 million funding. Councils will be able to draw on their understanding of local needs in determining the type, tenure and delivery approach for the new homes and bids will be assessed on a number of gateway criteria including market failure, deliverability and value for money. Councils have until 19 August 2022 to submit applications. Minister for Government Efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg said “Opening up this land is a fantastic opportunity for regeneration, improving government efficiency and playing a vital role in tackling the housing shortage while increasing home ownership. I am pleased to see this work is being delivered, after many attempts over the decades.”

For more information please click here.

Welsh Government to introduce new use classes to tackle high number of second homes

On 4 July 2022, the Welsh Government announced that to tackle the proliferation of second homes it will introduce the following three new planning use classes by the end of summer 2022:

  • Primary home.
  • Second home.
  • Short-term holiday accommodation.

Local planning authorities (LPAs), where they have evidence, will be able to make amendments to the planning system to require planning permission for change of use from one class to another. Changes to national planning policy will also be introduced to give LPAs the ability to control the number of second homes and holiday lets in any community.

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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