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Local Authority round-up 28/01/22

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

Councils to receive funding boost to improve cyber defences

Councils will receive £37.8million to boost their cyber resilience, the Government has announced. The funding has been announced as part of the Government’s first ever Cyber Security Strategy to make public services more resilient against hostile cyber-attacks. The plan includes the creation of a new Cyber Coordination Centre to help transform how data and cyber intelligence is shared across the public sector. A new service will also allow members of the public to report weaknesses in digital services. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, said “If we want people to continue to access their pensions online, social care support from local government or health services, we need to step up our cyber defences. The cyber threat is clear and growing. But government is acting – investing over £2billion in cyber, retiring legacy IT systems and stepping up our skills and coordination.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Restrictions lifted for venues and hospitality businesses in Scotland

The Scottish Parliament has passed two new regulations that lift the restrictions in venues and hospitality businesses that were introduced in December 2021 to mitigate the surge of the Omicron variant. The regulations also amend the definition of “fully vaccinated.” On 17 January 2022, the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 (SSI 2022/6) came into force. These Regulations amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/277) so that the requirement for one metre physical distancing in outdoor event venues, outdoor exhibitions and outdoor spaces in sports stadiums is removed, the requirement that a person must not organise an outdoor live event at which more than 500 people will be in attendance is removed and a person will need to show they have had a booster to be considered “fully vaccinated” if their last vaccine dose was more than four months ago. From 5.00am on 24 January 2022, the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Amendment (No 2) Regulations 2022 (SSI 2022/13) came into force. These lift rules including limits on attendance at indoor public events, the requirement for one metre physical distancing between different groups in indoor public places, the requirement for table service in hospitality premises serving alcohol and the closure of nightclubs. The Scottish government has also removed the guidance advising adults against non-professional indoor contact sports and the guidance asking people to stick to a three household limit on indoor gatherings.

For more information please click here.

New Welsh regulations ease COVID-19 restrictions

On 20 January 2022, the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/55) were made, easing COVID-19 restrictions in Wales. The Regulations come into effect on 21 January 2022 and amend the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1609), which established a system of four alert levels across Wales. The Regulations remove all Alert Level 2 restrictions on outdoor gatherings and events and amend the restrictions applicable to licensed premises so that the requirement to control entry to premises and for customers to be seated when ordering food or drink only applies to indoor parts of the premises. The COVID pass continues to be required for large outdoor events. The Regulations form part of the Welsh Government’s plan to reduce restrictions in phases until returning the country to Alert Level 0 for all indoor and outdoor activities on 28 January 2022.

For more information please click here.

Parliamentary debate on petition calling for prohibition of mandatory workplace vaccination

At a Westminster Hall debate on 24 January 2022, Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for BEIS, confirmed the government’s commitment to introduce mandatory vaccination for frontline workers in the health and social care sector on 1 April 2022. The debate was in response to a petition, which has received over 220,000 signatures to date, calling for the government to prohibit employers from requiring staff to be vaccinated. MPs participating in the debate raised strong concerns about the impact of the measure on the NHS’ capacity to deliver services in light of the existing staffing crisis in the NHS. Reports suggest that in the region of 73,000 NHS staff could leave frontline roles, which would compound long-standing staff shortages. Mr Scully stated that the government is taking steps to mitigate this risk and to continue to encourage healthcare workers to receive the vaccine. Outside of the health and social care sector, the minister was of the view that there could be some other circumstances in which it may be lawful for an employer to require staff to be vaccinated, subject to legal considerations. He also commented that there was potentially more scope for a mandatory vaccination requirement to be introduced for new employees than for existing staff.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

Foreign Secretary launches new scheme with South Australia

In the first state level agreement between the UK and Australia, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has launched a new scheme with the Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, to boost UK–Australia industries of the future by building on trade and investment opportunities arising from the free trade agreement between the UK and Australia. Ms Truss said “Our ambitious new initiative with South Australia will boost export opportunities and unblock barriers for British and Australian businesses. It will support jobs, create opportunities, boost supply chains and drive economic growth. Strengthening our relationship with Australia – including through our recently signed FTA – paves the way for UK accession to the CPTPP in 2022.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and Housing

New Leaseholder and Resident Service launched

The government has launched a new online system, the Leaseholder and Resident Service, which allows leaseholders living in tower blocks to have access to updates and track the status of their building’s application to the government’s Building Safety Fund. Leaseholders will receive a unique code from their building owners which will allow them to access the service which will be updated monthly. Minister of State for Building Safety and Fire, Lord Greenhalgh said “It is unacceptable that four years after the Grenfell tragedy innocent leaseholders are still living in buildings with unsafe cladding. Building owners are responsible for making their building’s safe, and we will no longer allow them to shirk from their duties and hide behind processes and corporate loopholes. Everyone – including leaseholders – has a right to know what is happening with their building and to live safely. Today’s launch is a key step in providing them with both the service and the peace of mind that they deserve.”

For more information please click here.

Building Safety Bill proceeding through House of Lords

The Building Safety Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons and is now progressing through the House of Lords, with its second reading there due on 2 February 2022. The third reading in the House of Commons considered various amendments to the Bill. Among those that gained approval was the government’s proposal for a retrospective extension to the limitation period for claims under section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA 1972) to 30 years, which was first announced on 10 January 2022. The current limitation period under the DPA 1972 is six years. Previously, the Bill proposed increasing that to 15 years (with retrospective effect). The extension to 30 years raises the prospect of claims relating to buildings completed as far back as 1992. Despite widespread Parliamentary support for the 30-year limitation period, numerous practical issues will arise when pursuing a claim relating to work that was completed so long ago. This means it is uncertain how many claimants will succeed in establishing liability and making any worthwhile financial recovery. As such, tenants and others affected by the building safety crisis are likely to continue to push for more direct compensation from the government.

For more information please click here.


Upcoming Webinars

CPD Programme – Grievances and whistleblowing

Join us on 1st February at 10am for our third webinar in our CPD Programme which will focus on grievances and whistleblowing. These sessions are completely free and will take place by Zoom, so they will not disrupt your day. They are perfect for HR professionals and managers who have responsibility for managing people. You will have the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature, or our teams will be on hand for drop-in sessions for attendees after each event. Ward Hadaway’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Programme is a new programme of HR and employment law training designed for our clients and contacts.

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

Fire and the Building Safety Bill – a developer review

Architects Ryder, engineers and fire safety consultants Hydrock and Ward Hadaway are coming together for a free webinar on Thursday 17th February at 1pm to look specifically at the changes to fire safety standards contained in the Bill, and the impact that this is likely to have for developers, whether commercial, residential, health and local authority estate, or social housing providers. Using the Design / Build / Operate process as our roadmap, we will look from all angles at the changes this will bring, and implications on time, cost and quality for a project. With experts from Ward Hadaway’s construction, housing management and regulatory teams contributing alongside specialist architects and fire safety consultants, it will provide a fully rounded review of this complex but all important topic. Chair Alistair McDonald from Ward Hadaway’s Built Environment team will be putting the questions to our panellists, including some of your own questions submitted during registration or via Zoom’s Q&A feature during the event.

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.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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