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Local Authority round-up 28/07/23

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.

International Trade

Electronic Trade Documents Bill receives Royal Assent

On 20 July 2023, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill received Royal Assent and became the Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023. The Act allows for electronic trade documents, such as bills of lading and bills of exchange, to be recognised as legally equivalent to paper trade documents, provided that they meet certain criteria. Crucially, the Act allows for the possession of electronic trade documents, which until now was not possible under English law. The Act is based on Law Commission recommendations and draft legislation and was introduced to Parliament in October 2022. UK Minister for International Trade, Nigel Huddleston, said “This new act will make it easier for businesses to trade efficiently with each other, cutting costs and growing the UK economy by billions over time. It’s exciting to see the power of technology being harnessed to benefit all industries, reduce paper waste and modernise our trading laws.

For more information please click here.

Planning and housing

New laws for social housing

The Social Housing (Regulation) Act has received Royal Assent to become law. The new laws brought in by the act will strengthen powers to tackle failing social landlords and tenants living in unsafe homes by:

  • strengthening the Regulator of Social Housing to carry out regular inspections of the largest social housing providers and the power to issue unlimited fines to rogue social landlords;
  • additional Housing Ombudsman powers to publish best practice guidance to landlords following investigations into tenant complaints;
  • powers to set strict time limits for social landlords to address hazards such as damp and mould;
  • new qualification requirements for social housing managers; and
  • introducing stronger economic powers to follow inappropriate money transactions outside of the sector.

For more information please click here.

Plans set out for further housing

The Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have this week set out long term plans for housing. This includes the regeneration and renaissance and commitment to transformational change in Cambridge, central London and central Leeds. A further £800 million will also be allocated from the £1.5 billion Brownfield, Infrastructure and Land fund to unlock up to 56,000 new homes on brownfield sites, which includes £550 million for Homes England and £150 million to Greater Manchester and £100 million to the West Midlands.

For more information please click here.

RSH launches consultation on proposed new consumer standards

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has launched a consultation on proposed new standards to protect social housing tenants. The consultation is running for 12 weeks, finishing on Tuesday 17 October 2023. The proposed standards will:

  • protect tenants by strengthening the safety requirements that all social landlords need to meet;
  • require landlords to know more about the condition of their tenants’ homes and the individual needs of the people living in them;
  • make sure landlords listen to tenants’ complaints and respond quickly when they need to put things right; and
  • require landlords to be open and accountable to their tenants, and treat them with fairness and respect.

Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of the Regulator of Social Housing, said “We’re gearing up for the biggest change to social housing regulation for a decade. This will include our landlord inspections from next April, as well as stronger powers to make landlords put things right when they breach our standards.”

For more information please click here.

Consultation on changes to PDRs to allow additional flexibilities

On 24 July 2023, the government published a consultation on proposed changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. The consultation covers changes to permitted development rights (PDRs) including those that allow for:

  • Change of use to dwelling houses including the cap on floorspace, the vacancy requirement and whether it should apply to some specific buildings such as hotels and launderettes.
  • Agricultural diversification and development on agricultural units.
  • Non-domestic extensions and the erection of new industrial and warehouse buildings.

The consultation also covers the proposed extension of the existing PDR that allows for the erection, extension or alteration of schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and closed prisons to also apply to open prisons. The consultation ends with a call for evidence seeking views on nature-based solutions, farm efficiency projects and diversification. The consultation closes on 25 September 2023 and relates to England only.

For more information please click here.

Cladding Safety Scheme opens

The government has announced the opening of the Cladding Safety Scheme (CSS). The CSS is available for residential buildings over 11 metres tall outside London and between 11 and 18 metres inside London. It will cover the reasonable costs of addressing life-safety fire risks associated with cladding and external wall systems where recommended in a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls. The government’s Cladding Safety Scheme guidance details what the CSS will (and will not) fund. Only the person or organisation legally responsible for the building’s external repair and maintenance (Responsible Entity) or their representative may submit a CSS application. The CSS is available where the developer and the Responsible Entity are unable to fund the fire safety works. The CSS is not available where the developer has signed up to the Developer Pledge. If the developer has not signed up and is still trading, the applicant should take reasonable steps to get the developer to fix the cladding. The applicant must demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to recover the costs from those responsible through insurance, warranties or legal action (where the applicant has the practical and legal ability to do so). Homes England will deliver the CSS. The Building Safety Fund (BSF), operated by the Greater London Authority, will continue to administer funding for already accepted applications and accept new applications from private and social sector buildings over 18 metres inside London.

For more information please click here.

Upcoming webinars

Webinar series: Data Protection

Register your interest for our on-going webinar series on ‘Data Protection’ for in-house lawyers, DPOs and senior management in private and public sector organisations. The series will run throughout 2023 providing attendees with up to date information on key Data Protection topics. The short one hour sessions will be delivered by our experts with allocated time for you to ask any questions you may have. The next in our series ‘Marketing and data protection’ will take place on 12 September 2023.

For more information or 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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