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Local Authority round-up 15/10/21

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

£57.8 million allocated to councils to develop brownfield land

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that £57.8 million from the Brownfield Land Release Fund will be allocated to councils to develop brownfield land into good quality housing while transforming derelict local areas. The funding has been allocated to 53 councils and it is expected that 5,600 homes can be built on the disused sites following the demolition of derelict buildings and using disused car parks and garages. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove MP said “We are levelling up and backing home ownership in every corner of the country, delivering new high-quality, affordable homes and creating thriving places where people want to live, work and visit. Making the most of previously developed land is a government priority and it will help protect our cherished countryside and green spaces.”

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Regulatory

New legislation to combat fraud and abuse

The Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill (the Bill), which is currently making its way through Parliament, is intended to enable increased scrutiny of the actions of directors of dissolved companies and discourage the abuse of the voluntary strike-off procedure as an alternative to insolvency proceedings. Mounting concern about the extent of potential fraud relating to the claiming of government-backed COVID-19 loans, together with concerns that the voluntary strike-off process may be used as a way of avoiding repayment, was a key driver in the introduction of the Bill in May 2021. The Insolvency Service is currently taking a zealous approach to the investigation of companies and directors suspected of COVID-19-related fraud, and the powers contained in the Bill will add another string to its bow. The Bill addresses a gap in current legislation that leaves former directors of dissolved companies free from the risk of disqualification and other sanctions under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 by amending the 1986 Act and extending the current regime to former directors of dissolved companies. In particular, it will enable the Secretary of State, acting through the Insolvency Service, to require information relating to a person’s conduct as director of a dissolved company, apply to the court for an order disqualifying a director of a dissolved company, apply to the court for an order that the director must financially compensate creditors where their actions caused identifiable losses and accept a disqualification undertaking or an undertaking to pay financial compensation from the director. The Bill is expected to reach the statute book in early autumn 2021, although its provisions regarding director disqualification are retrospective.

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International Trade

UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

The European Parliament adopted a decision on setting up the EU delegation to the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, which will be established under the UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement as a forum to exchange views on the partnership. The EU delegation will include 35 members and the Assembly will also include 35 members from the UK Parliament and will be co-chaired by European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and UK Minister of State for EU Relations, David Frost. Once the Assembly is established, it can request information about the implementation of the UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement from the Partnership Council and make recommendations.

For more information please click here.

Government launches consultation on trade negotiations with Gulf Cooperation Council

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has published a press release announcing a new consultation ahead of negotiations for a new free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. The negotiations are expected to begin in 2022. The announcement follows the conclusion of a UK-GCC Joint Trade and Investment Review in June 2021, which identified the following priority sectors for future collaboration to facilitate greater market access: professional and business services, agriculture, food and drink, education, healthcare and life sciences, financial services, environmental green technologies and renewable energy. DIT has also published an information note which assesses the current trade and investment relationship between the UK and the GCC, and the potential impact of an FTA, in relation to trade in goods, trade in services, foreign direct investment, workers and the environment. The consultation questionnaire sets out various questions aimed at identifying potential opportunities and concerns associated with a UK-GCC FTA, including in relation to trade in goods, including tariffs, rules of origin, product standards and regulation, customs and border checks, trade remedies, trade in services and investment, including financial and professional services, movement of persons, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, digital services and movement of data and other trade-related areas, including competition, subsidy control, procurement, intellectual property, labour and environmental standards. The consultation closes on 14 January 2022.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Haringey Council builds modular homes to tackle homelessness

Haringey Council, in partnership with developer Hill Group, has built 33 new modular homes in a bid to tackle homelessness. The 33 homes have been built on a former storage yard and have running costs of less than £5 a week. Council staff will also provide specialist support to residents of the modular homes in order to help them settle into their new homes and to tackle issues which have led them to becoming homeless in the first place. Cllr Peray Ahmet, leader of Haringey Council said “I’m proud to be part of this joint initiative to help people move on securely from a life of sleeping rough. We know we can’t tackle this problem alone, which is why I’m so delighted our collaboration with Hill is helping us deliver good quality, transitional housing that ensures people in need can get their lives back on track. Tackling homelessness remains one of our top priorities and during the pandemic we offered emergency accommodation to over 1000 people sleeping rough. We are determined to continue our efforts and support people off the streets in our borough.”

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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