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Local Authority round-up 27/05/22

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

£300 million youth justice funding boost announced

The government has announced £300 million funding over the next 3 years to support all councils in England and Wales to tackle youth offending and cut crime. Councils will be allocated funding in order to intervene and provide teenagers with help to steer them away from crime. This may include mentoring, extra school tuition, sports clubs, help to address any issues at school or at home, with their mental health or with substance misuse and tackling the root causes of their behaviour. Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab said “Diverting more young people from gangs, drugs and violence will make our streets safer. So, we’re investing £300 million in preventative initiatives, to deter criminal behaviour. Our plan will ensure thousands more young people can turn their lives around – which will transform their lives and make our communities safer.”

For more information please click here.

Windrush Day Grant Scheme 2022 announced

The government has announced £500,000 funding under the Windrush Day Grant Scheme 2022 which will provide 35 charities, community groups and councils across England with funding to commemorate Windrush Day on 22 June. The funding will be used to provide celebratory programmes and events including festivals to mark the occasion. Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch said “Thanks to our funding, events across England will take place on 22 June, helping remember and recognise the leading role the Windrush Generation and their descendants have played in making Britain stronger, culturally richer and more inclusive.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey has announced the “Fighting Fraud in the Welfare System” plan which outlines how 2,000 trained specialists will review over two million Universal Credit claims over the next five years in order to ensure money is well spent and give taxpayers confidence that funds are reaching those who need it. The aim is to cut down on fraud within the welfare system and as part of this they will introduce a range of new powers. This includes DWP officers being given powers to undertake arrests, execute warrants, conduct searches and seize evidence and proposals to introduce a new civil penalty to ensure those who commit fraud face adequate punishment. It will also provide the power to require organisations, such as banks, to securely share data on a larger scale.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

UK-Mexico trade negotiations launched

The UK and Mexico have issued a joint statement formally launching negotiations for an upgraded free trade agreement (FTA) and the Department for International Trade published a document relating to those negotiations titled UK-Mexico Free Trade Agreement: The UK’s Strategic Approach. The document sets out the government’s strategic case for pursuing the negotiations, its negotiating objectives, its response to its call for input on the upgrade FTA, and an impact assessment. At present, trade between the UK and Mexico is conducted under the terms of the UK-Mexico Trade Continuity Agreement (TCA), which largely replicated the terms of an earlier trade agreement between the EU and Mexico. The TCA mostly covers trade in goods and contains relatively shallow commitments on trade in services and other areas. The newly published document identifies that an upgraded FTA could benefit the UK by:

  • Eliminating remaining tariffs, including high tariffs on dairy products and alcohol.
  • Adding modernised provisions that can support UK trade across financial, creative, digital and technology services.
  • Adding modern digital and telecommunications chapters that will allow the FTA to be better tailored to the UK economy and maximise opportunities for digital trade across all sectors of the economy.
  • Adding provisions that encourage trade in cutting-edge technologies, modernise the approach to emerging industries, and foster conditions for innovation.
  • Providing opportunities to strengthen co-operation to help tackle shared environmental challenges, including climate change.

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

£553 million funding for affordable, low carbon heating and energy efficiency upgrades

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan has announced that the government will be providing £553 million in funding to upgrade public buildings across England in order to cut their use of expensive fossil fuels and save millions of pounds on bills. Hospitals, schools, libraries, museums and leisure centres across England are among hundreds of public buildings which will be upgraded with affordable, low carbon heating and energy efficiency measures. Councils, public bodies and taxpayers are expected to save an average of £650 million per year on energy bills over the next 15 years. Mr Callanan said “Using cleaner technology to heat our civic buildings is helping to shield public sector organisations from costly fossil fuels, especially at a time of high global prices. This funding will bring significant savings for taxpayers of well over half a billion pounds each year by making public buildings cheaper to run, heat and cool, whilst supporting economic growth and jobs across the country.”

For more information please click here.

Council pay £6,000 to family housed in unsuitable overcrowded accommodation

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) has upheld a complaint against the London Borough of Bromley (council) for a failure to provide suitable accommodation to a homeless family. In July 2019, B was evicted by his landlord from the one-bedroom property he lived in with his partner and five children (who had only recently moved in). However, due to COVID-19 restrictions B and his family were not evicted. In September 2019, the council accepted that B was threatened with homelessness and eligible for assistance under the Housing Act 1996 (HA 1996), however, it considered that the current property was not severely overcrowded. The council made numerous attempts to find a suitable four-bedroom private rented sector property for B and his family, however it did not move them into interim accommodation or confirm that it owed B the full housing duty until he complained in October 2020. The LG&SCO found that the council had failed to make proper enquiries or complete an assessment of B’s application in July 2019. Therefore, it had not acknowledged that B’s current accommodation was unsuitable not only because he was threatened with homelessness, but also because it was overcrowded and therefore it was not reasonable for him to continue to occupy it. The council had also delayed putting together a personalised housing plan for B and then failed to review it. It also found that the council had failed to accept it owed B the relief duty under section 189B(2) of the HA 1996 in July 2019 to secure suitable accommodation for at least six months, had failed to provide interim accommodation at this point and had failed to consider the family’s human rights under Article 8 of the ECHR. The council agreed to apologise and make a payment of £6,000 to B to recognise the period of time the family had spent in unsuitable accommodation and the degree of overcrowding experienced. The LG&SCO also recommended the council ensure that its staff are aware of the council’s homelessness duties and responsibilities.

For more information please click here.

Consultation launched on proposed changes to building regulations for new homes

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez has launched a consultation on proposals for changes to building regulations to ensure new homes have next-generation gigabit broadband installed in them as standard practice. The changes to the law will mean home developers will be legally required to build gigabit broadband into new homes in England and make it a priority as part of building work. They will also need to bring broadband network operators on board to consider gigabit broadband installation when construction plans are submitted to local councils. Ms Lopez said “The law changes we are consulting on today will help us go further and faster to make our homes fit for the future with the infrastructure people will need to take advantage of new technologies in the coming decades.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

In House Lawyer series – Legal professional privilege & Dispute resolution clauses

Nichola Evans, Partner, will be providing two lunchtime webinars this June on the topics of privilege and dispute resolution clauses. You will have the opportunity to ask questions at both sessions, and in advance. The sessions will take place as follows:

Wednesday 15th June – 12pm – 1pm – Legal professional privilege
Wednesday 29th June – 12pm – 1pm – Dispute resolution clauses

For more information and to book your place please click here.

Certainty in an uncertain market

For the latest in our ‘In conversation with…’ series we are hosting Nick Salmons, Director, Corporate Lending of Shawbrook Bank, and Chris Foster, Principal Consultant for Expense Reduction Analysts on 14th June 2022 at 12pm to discuss financial management and marketability. The webinar is hosted by our own Emma Digby, who is also joined by her colleague Jonathan Pollard – an experienced corporate lawyer who is immersed in the merger and acquisition market.

For more information and to book your place 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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