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Local Authority round-up: 22/03/24

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.


Government to boost apprenticeships and support SMEs

The Government has pledged to fully fund apprenticeships in small businesses from 1st April by paying the full cost of training for anyone up to the age of 21. It is hoped that this will reduce costs for businesses and deliver more opportunities for young people.

In addition to this, the Government will also increase the amount of funding that employers who are paying the apprenticeship levy can transfer to other businesses. Apprenticeships can currently be funded by a levy paying employer transferring up to 25% of their unused levy to a different employer. Under the new measures, large employers who pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to transfer up to 50% of their funds to support other businesses to take on apprentices. As of December 2023, 530 employers including ASDA, HomeServe and BT Group have pledged to transfer over £35.39 million to support apprenticeships in businesses of all sizes.

The Prime Minister is also expected to announce further deregulatory measures to simplify reporting for SMEs which is expected to save businesses across the UK around £150 million per year. This includes increasing the number of companies which qualify as an SME through a 50% uplift to the thresholds that determine a company’s size. This is expected to benefit around 132,000 businesses who will be spared from burdensome form-filling and non-financial reporting requirements.

For more information, please click here.

Government to turn the North East into a film and TV powerhouse

The Government have confirmed a £37 million investment in the North East Mayoral Combined Authority to unlock one of Europe’s largest filmmaking complexes in Sunderland. This builds on the Government’s ambition to level up across the North East.

Alongside this funding, the Government will work towards the designation of a specific ‘growth zone’ in which North East local authorities will be able to retain 100% of business rates growth for the next 25 years.

NEMCA intends to use £25 million of the funding to remediate the prospective Crown Works Studios site, and plans to designate the site as a ‘growth zone’. It is hoped that this combination of capital funding and business rates retention will ensure that NEMCA and Sunderland City Council can continue to support the project in the long-term.

CWS is expected to transform the economy of the North East, generating £336 million Gross Value Added (GVA) a year for the regional economy. It will enhance the UK’s offer to the global film and high-end TV industry, and create over 8000 jobs in the area.

For more information, please click here.

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New Procurement Bill passing through Parliament

Currently there is a new Private Members Bill passing through Parliament titled the Public Procurement (British Goods and Services) Bill. This Bill proposes small changes to both the Procurement Act and the Public Services (Social Value) Act.

It is clear that the aim of the Bill is to encourage contracting authorities to engage with British suppliers, particularly SMEs, in the procurement of goods and/or services.

The key features of the Bill are as follows:

  • The Bill amends Section 1 of the Public Services (Social Value) Act to require relevant authorities to consider how the procurement of British goods and/or services, particularly from SMEs, will improve the economic, social, and environmental well-being of areas within the UK.
  • Contracting authorities must then publish these considerations detailed above in a Contract Award Notice under the Procurement Act.
  • Contracting authorities must also publish an assessment of how the thresholds detailed in Schedule 1 of the Procurement Act have impacted British suppliers and British suppliers which are SMEs.

It should be noted that if the Bill is enacted, it will create a further administrative burden on procuring authorities in relation to the information required under the Contract Award Notice. For more information regarding the Procurement Act, and the obligations it introduces for contracting authorities, please see our Procurement in a Nutshell series.

Upcoming Events

Webinar: Health and Wellbeing – Supporting those who are grieving in the workplace

On Tuesday 26th March, between 10am and 11.30am, we are hosting a Health and Wellbeing webinar in collaboration with Recovery4Life. During this session we will be joined by a panel of experts including (among others) John Devitt, CEO of Recovery4Life, and Andy Langford, Clinical Director for Cruse Bereavement Support, who will discuss the topic of grief, providing practical advice to assist employers in supporting employees who may be grieving.

To register your place, please click here.

Webinar: Immigration Update – Skilled Worker rule change

On Thursday 4th April, between 2pm and 3pm, our experts will be discussing the legislative changes to the immigration rules relating to Skilled Workers. In particular, the webinar will cover:

  • The provisions relating to the new minimum salary of £38,700 p.a. for Skilled Workers;
  • Whether there will be any exceptions to the new base salary rate;
  • How Shortage Occupations will be affected and what the new Immigration Salary List will mean;
  • Transitional arrangements for existing sponsored staff;
  • How specific sectors might be affected such as technology, manufacturing, energy and care;
  • Practical steps that businesses can take in light of the changes;
  • Tips for managing potential problem areas, for example where existing employees are no longer eligible for sponsorship.

To register your 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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