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Local Authority round-up 16/07/21

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

£24 million regional fund for children’s social care

The government has announced £24 million of funding under The Children’s Social Care Covid-19 Regional Recovery and Building Back Better Fund to provide further support for vulnerable children. The funding will be distributed amongst the nine Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliances and based on local priorities. Each region will be allocated funds worth between £2 and £3 million, including a flat rate of £50,000 for each region to help councils play their part in accommodating unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said “We have a duty, as a nation, to provide these children with the care and support they need. Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children can be some of the most vulnerable in our care, having often faced dreadful exploitation from traffickers, and appalling conditions both at home and on their journey to the UK.”

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Westminster Council launches new investment service

Westminster Council has launched a new investment service to encourage new and growing businesses to locate in the area following the pandemic. The service aims to attract sustainable investment through new shops, helping entrepreneurs scale-up in the borough, launching new occupiers by offering a tailored “concierge service” that will provide local business intelligence, assistance navigating regulatory services, access to space and introductions to key sector players, along with other business requirements. Councillor Matthew Green said “We want businesses from all over the world to achieve their potential in Westminster and we will support investors through a single, entry point that will provide navigational support to investors as well as tailored account management, giving new entries both a warm welcome and a soft landing.”

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Regulatory

Oxfordshire County Council given powers to tackle illegal parking

Following an application by Oxfordshire County Council to the government to take over responsibility for civil parking enforcement, the government has now confirmed that the application has been approved. Oxfordshire County Council will now take over responsibility for civil parking enforcement across the whole of the county from November 2021. Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highways management, said “This is one of the most significant changes the county will be making in decades, and we are delighted to be bringing this change in. At the moment, residents in these affected districts are suffering from motorists who park with near impunity. Finally, we will be able to take control of managing parking offences and give local communities more input into parking enforcement in their local areas.”

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International Trade

UK signs new trade agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has announced that it has signed a new free trade agreement (FTA) with the three non-EU members of the European Economic Area (EEA), which are also members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein (EEA EFTA states). Before Brexit and during the UK-EU transition period, the UK’s trade relationship with the EEA EFTA states was governed by the EEA Agreement, which gives the EEA EFTA states considerable access to the single market and enables relatively seamless trade in goods and services. During the transition period, the UK negotiated continuity trade agreements with Liechtenstein and, separately, with Norway and Iceland. These continuity trade agreements retained tariff preferences and other provisions relating to trade in goods, but they did not address other areas that had previously been covered by the EEA Agreement, including trade in services. The new agreement covers trade in goods, services and investment, digital trade, including commitments to facilitate cross-border data flows and level playing field commitments on competition policy, subsidies, and trade and sustainable development, including provisions on labour and environmental standards.

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Planning and housing

London boroughs to receive funding to purchase former council homes

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is to offer London boroughs funding under the mayor’s Building Council Homes for Londoners programme to purchase homes previously sold through the Right to Buy scheme. The funding for this programme is part of the Affordable Homes Programme 2016-2023 and acquisitions funded in this way will have to be completed by March 2023. Buying back properties sold under the Right to Buy is stated as the “primary objective” of the funding, but it can be used to purchase any market properties within the borough boundary. The housing bought back in this way will subsequently be let at social rent levels or used as accommodation for homeless families and all of the properties must meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard. Leader of Camden LBC, Councillor Georgia Gould, said “Camden, like much of London, has found itself at the sharp end of the housing affordability crisis and, as we rebuild from the devastating impact of COVID-19, there has been no greater time for change. We welcome the mayor’s announcement and look forward to working with the mayor as other boroughs join Camden in reclaiming decades of lost social housing for Londoners.”

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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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