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Local Authority round-up 29/07/22

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

New round of Air Quality Grants for local authorities opens

The government has announced that a new round of Air Quality Grants is now available to councils. Councils will be able to bid for a share of the £7 million pot in order to gain government funding which can be used to improve air quality in their areas, including the development and implementation of measures to benefit schools, businesses and communities and reduce the impact of air pollution on people’s health. The criteria for this year’s grant period will prioritise three areas:

  • Projects that reduce air pollution where there are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exceedances;
  • Projects focusing on improving public knowledge and information about air quality, including steps individuals can take to reduce their exposure to air pollution; and
  • Projects that include measures to deal with particulate matter, which is the pollutant most harmful to human health.

Applications for the grant open from Tuesday 26 July and close on Friday 23 September.

For more information please click here.

£50 million of new funding to make streets safer

The government has announced a further £50 million is being provided under the Safer Streets Fund to tackle violence against women and girls and make streets safer. The funding will be available to communities across England and Wales including police forces, councils, British Transport Police and eligible community groups, to invest in transformative crime prevention initiatives. Home Secretary, Priti Patel said “It has been one year since I launched our dedicated violence against women and girls strategy and in that year I have overseen incredible work to support victims, prevent violence against women and girls, protect citizens and deliver justice. Our essential work with specialist groups is delivering practical support and change for women and girls across our communities and the Safer Streets Fund continues to make a difference to the safety of women and girls at a community level.”

For more information please click here.


Regulatory

Pavement Licences extended

The government has announced that the temporary changes brought in during COVID-19 which make it quicker, easier and cheaper for business to get a licence to serve food and drink on pavements and pedestrianised roads have been extended. The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has confirmed that the changes, which were brought in under The Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licences) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2022, will now be extended until next year and will then be made permanent in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in Spring next year. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Greg Clark said “We want to see bustling town centres across the country and that’s why the changes we made to licensing rules will become permanent. Making al fresco dining a permanent fixture on our high streets is part of our plan to level up communities and create vibrant places people want to live and work.”

For more information please click here.

Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 12) Regulations 2022 in force

The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No 12) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/801) (2022 Regulations) enter into force on 19 July 2022. The 2022 Regulations are made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to amend the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/855) (2019 Regulations) by amending existing regulations and adding new ones. The amending regulations do the following:

  • Prohibit the direct or indirect acquisition of any ownership interest in land or entities located in Russia or connected with Russia.
  • Prohibit the direct or indirect acquisition of any ownership interest over a relevant entity, meaning a person, other than an individual, which has a place of business located in Russia but is not a person connected with Russia.
  • Prohibit the establishment of commercial arrangements such as opening representative offices, branches and subsidiaries in Russia and establishing joint ventures with persons connected with Russia.
  • Prohibit the provision of investment services directly linked to the activities set out above.

In the case of the indirect acquisition of ownership interests described above, the purpose prohibited is the making of funds or economic resources available directly or indirectly to a person connected with Russia, or for the benefit of a person connected with Russia. For the purposes of the regulations acquiring an ownership interest means acquiring shares or voting rights in the entity or having the right to appoint or remove a majority of the board of directors of the entity or acquiring any means of ensuring the affairs of the entity are conducted in accordance with the acquirers wishes. The 2022 Regulations also make amendments to the 2019 Regulations to provide for exceptions from the prohibitions, including to prevent overlap with existing Regulation 16 which prohibits dealing with transferable securities or money market instruments. As is usual, the Regulations provide for a licensing regime as well as the expansion of criminal offences for their breach.

For more information please click here.

LG&SCO finds council at fault for failing to provide specified educational provision in EHC plan and delays in its safeguarding investigation

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LG&SCO) announced the publication of a report, which found that Sheffield City Council (council) was at fault for failing to provide a young woman (C) with the specified special educational provision in an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. In 2017, C’s care provider was changed following abuse allegations by B (C’s mother) and following a subsequent council review, it was noted that C had developed depression and needed counselling and was unable to attend college. C was asked to pay a top-up for the new care support (which involved different care workers at her request). The council started a safeguarding investigation in 2017 into the care provider but the completion of this was delayed until December 2018. In 2020, B made a formal complaint that the council had delayed implementing the increased support plan it had devised following the safeguarding investigation and had failed to re-assess C’s care and support needs under the Care Act 2014. Further, from September 2017 to 2021, the council had failed to provide C with education despite an EHC plan being in place or to offer any alternative education or support. The LG&SCO upheld the complaint, finding that the council had:

  • Failed to provide C with the required social care and educational support for a prolonged period, and delayed C’s progression in her education and working life. This had an impact on both C and B’s mental health.
  • Failed to adequately review C’s EHC plan and offer suitable provision between the reviews it conducted in January 2017 and 2021. It had also incorrectly suggested during its safeguarding investigation that C could have ended the abuse if she had spoken up sooner.
  • Wrongly applied the law which resulted in requesting C to pay a top-up for her care support.

The LG&SCO recommended the council refund the top-up payments to C with interest, compensate B and C for the distress caused, and also compensate C for the time she was not in education. It was also recommended the council consider any discretion to provide educational support to C beyond the age of 25.

For more information please click here.


International Trade

European Commission launches four further infringement procedures against UK

The European Commission has launched four new infringement procedures against the UK for failure to comply with significant parts of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The Commission considers the UK’s failure to implement the Protocol properly a breach of international law. The procedures aim to secure compliance with the Protocol in key areas so that Northern Ireland can continue to benefit from its privileged access to the EU Internal Market. They relate to:

  • Failure to comply with the applicable customs requirements, supervision requirements and risk controls on the movement of goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.
  • Failure to notify the transposition of EU legislation laying down general EU rules on excise duties.
  • Failure to notify the transposition of EU rules on excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.
  • Failure to implement EU rules on VAT for e-commerce, namely the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS).

The Commission has launched the new procedures by issuing letters of formal notice. The UK has two months to reply to the letters. If the Commission is not satisfied, it may then issue a reasoned opinion.

For more information please click here.

Northern Ireland Protocol Bill clears House of Commons and receives first reading in the Lords

On 20 July 2022, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill 2022-23 completed its House of Commons committee stage, unamended, and had its third reading in the Commons. From there, the Bill moved to the House of Lords where it received its first reading in the Lords the following day. The government introduced the Bill on 13 June 2022. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the operation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the UK-EU withdrawal agreement (Protocol) in the UK. The debate in the Commons lasted almost four hours, during which an amendment to Clause 13, which excludes the power of the CJEU over any provision in the Protocol or related provision in the withdrawal agreement, was withdrawn. All the other opposition amendments, which included several intended to limit the power delegated to UK ministers through widely drafted Henry VIII provisions, were defeated. The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 21 July 2022. Its second reading in the Lords will follow the summer recess.

For more information please click here.

House of Lords Sub-Committee on Northern Ireland Protocol publishes follow-up report

The House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has published a follow-up report on the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol. This follow-up report includes information, conclusions and recommendations on the following matters:

  • The economic impact of the Protocol, both negative and beneficial. The report stresses that that the continued lack of agreement between the UK government and the EU is having an economically damaging effect, and that a mutually agreed solution is the optimal outcome. It also describes widespread concern within the business community about the impact on Northern Ireland of increasing regulatory divergence between the UK and the EU.
  • Mitigations and solutions. The report re-iterates that one of the most significant single measures to alleviate the regulatory and administrative burden of the Protocol would be a UK-EU SPS/veterinary agreement, and again urges both sides to work towards a common position on an SPS agreement designed with the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland in mind.
  • Provision of medicines to Northern Ireland under the Protocol. The report welcomes the steps taken to alleviate problems with the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland through the EU’s April 2022 legislation, and urges the UK government and the EU to work together to identify sustainable solutions to outstanding issues.

The Sub-Committee urges the UK government and the EU, together with the political parties in Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland stakeholders and the Irish government, to make a renewed commitment to work together to prioritise Northern Ireland’s interests, participate together in constructive engagement, rebuild trust, and engage in effective relationship-building.

For more information please click here.

UK-Israel trade negotiations launched

The Department for International (DIT) has issued a statement announcing that it was formally launching negotiations for a new free trade agreement (FTA) with Israel. DIT also published a policy paper setting out the UK’s approach to the negotiations. The paper sets out the strategic rationale for pursuing the FTA with Israel, the government’s negotiating objectives, its response to calls for input on the potential FTA and an initial impact assessment of the potential long-term impacts of a trade agreement between the UK and Israel. The UK signed a replacement trade agreement with Israel in February 2019. This trade agreement largely replicates the terms of the EU’s association agreement with Israel and mostly covers trade in goods. There are no substantive provisions that specifically address services, despite both the UK and Israel being predominantly services economies. The government’s negotiating objective is to put services at the heart of the new FTA, with a particular emphasis on technology, research and development, digital services and data. The government estimates that a new FTA, with a focus on services, could boost UK services exports to Israel by up to £78 million, with wider tech and innovation-intensive sectors potentially in line to benefit as well. International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan said “We want a deal that will play to British strengths, while stimulating innovation and increasing opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK. Combining the power of our economies in a revamped trade deal will boost trade, support jobs and help take our economic relationship to the next level.”

For more information please click here.


Planning and housing

Government consults on safety regime for occupied higher-risk buildings

The government has launched a consultation on its proposals for the in-occupation phase for higher-risk buildings within the new safety regime for occupied higher-risk buildings under the Building Safety Act 2022 (BSA 2022). The in-occupation regime includes a requirement to register all occupied higher-risk buildings, the introduction of a safety case approach to managing fire and structural safety during occupation, duties to engage residents, the ongoing management of a digital golden thread of information throughout the building lifecycle and the creation of a mandatory occurrence reporting framework. Enforcement will be by the Building Safety Regulator (part of the Health and Safety Executive), who will oversee compliance once the new regime is in force. The consultation is wide-ranging, covering all of these areas and adding detail to the framework set out in the BSA 2022. The consultation ends on 12 October 2022.

For more information please click here.

£4.5 billion Building Safety Fund opens for new applications

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced the £4.5 billion Building Safety Fund has now reopened for new applications. Buildings over 18 metres with cladding issues are eligible to apply for the fund. Secretary of State for Levelling Up Greg Clark said “We must make homes safe. The relaunch of the Building Safety Fund today will help achieve this, but we must also ensure those in industry who acted irresponsibly pay their fair share to put things right. The Building Safety Act makes clear building owners’ liabilities and gives us powers to pursue those that continue to flout the rules.”

For more information please click here.


Upcoming webinars

The Building Safety Act 2022: What do you need to know?

With the introduction of the Fire Safety Act last year and the more recent Building Safety Act 2022, it might feel like the rules and regulations for social housing providers are in a constant state of flux. As such the social housing team at Ward Hadaway would like to invite you to attend a free webinar on 28th September at 12pm, discussing the ins and outs of the Building Safety Act 2022. At this webinar Construction specialist, Neil Williamson, will give an overview of the Act, helping you to understand what it means for registered providers and local authorities. Neil will also offer his keen insight into how these changes will impact new developments and the contractual arrangements that providers will now need to implement. Fire safety and general building safety is always of utmost precedence, and this discussion promises to contain the useful and practical advice, to guide you, our colleagues in the social housing sector, through the recent changes in regulation.

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

Holiday pay update for schools

The Supreme Court recently handed down a judgment on holiday pay which will have significant implications throughout the education sector. Join us on 15th September at 10am where Graham Vials and Tom Shears will look into this judgment in more detail, including what it may mean for schools in terms of historic financial liability and the steps which schools should be considering moving forward in response to this judgment.

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

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this update, please contact Tim Care.

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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