Public bodies are continuing to seek creative ways of improving efficiency and finding savings for the public purse.
This article is taken from December's public matters newsletter. Click here to view more articles from this issue.
Public bodies are continuing to seek creative ways of improving efficiency and finding savings for the public purse. Could additional devolution powers further aid efficiency and public spending?
What is devolution? It is the transferring of powers from central government to local governments with the view to empowering local authorities and enabling them to support their local area.
Following the 2015 General Election the government pledged to have a look at local government proposals in the autumn 2015 spending review. A number of deals were agreed in 2015 – 2017, with some not yet published.
Recently devolution in England has slowed and there are calls for more to be done particularly focusing outside of metropolitan areas. The Local Government Association is calling for a new localism settlement.
Lord Heseltine, a former conservative deputy prime minister, is calling for further English devolution powers as current decisions are too London Centric and local governments should have responsibility for overseeing such things like failing schools, affordable housing and local taxes.
In July 2019 a new inquiry was launched with the purpose of assessing the progress of devolution in England. It plans to examine the impact of increased devolved powers and the effectiveness of the current strategy.
The renewed focus on devolution provides local authorities with an opportunity to put forward any devolution proposals. However proposals should be characterised as containing a ‘menu with specials’ the ‘menu’ being a number of items that have been made available to most areas including an adult education budget, integrated transport system and planning and land use; and he ‘specials’ involve items that may be offered a limited selection of local authorities such as housing and health. Reviewing deals that have already been agreed and published will be beneficial when drafting a devolution proposal and is now the time to have more of a consistent framework across the devolution landscape rather than a deal based approach?
Due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit any devolution deals entered into must contain flexibility to allow for any changes that may take place.
Law firm Browne Jacobson has collaborated with Wiltshire Council and Christ Church Business School on the launch event of The Council Company Best Practice and Innovation Network, a platform which brings together academic experts and senior local authority leaders, allowing them to share best practice in relation to council companies.
In the Autumn Statement delivered on 17 November, rises to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates were announced, to take effect from 1 April 2023.
Announced in September but scrapped on 17 November the investment zone proposals were very short lived. The proposal has now morphed into the proposal for a smaller number of clustered zones earmarked for investment.
Settlement agreements are commonplace in an employment context and are ordinarily used to provide the parties to the agreement with certainty following the conclusion of an employment relationship.
On 2 November 2022, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the much awaiting case of Hillside Parks Ltd v Snowdonia National Park Authority  UKSC 30. The Court’s judgment suggests that the long established practice of using drop-in applications is in fact much more restricted than previously thought. This judgment therefore has significant implications for both the developers and local planning authorities.
In ‘failure to remove’ claims, the claimant alleges abuse in the family home and asserts that the local authority should have known about the abuse and/or that they should have removed the claimant from the family home and into care earlier.
Across the UK, homelessness is an urgent crisis, and one that is set to grow amid the rising cost of living. Local authorities are at the forefront of responding to this crisis, but with a lack of properties that are suitable for social housing across the UK, vulnerable individuals and families are often housed in temporary accommodation.
Settlement agreements in an employment context are ordinarily used to provide both parties with certainty following the conclusion of an employment relationship – but what happens when there is alleged discrimination after entering into a settlement agreement?
Updates include UK Shared Prosperity Fund, contracts, Subsidy Control Bill, data controller liability, Government Covid-19 procurement and Highway Code revisions.
The complex and rather nebulous transitional subsidy control regime set out in the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement and the UK’s wider international commitments has made it difficult for public authorities and those working with them to proceed with certainty where subsidies are involved.
Investment zones have been introduced by the Conservative party to get the United Kingdom (UK) ‘working, building and growing’. They are to be designated sites which provide time-limited tax incentives, streamlined planning rules and wider support for local growth to encourage investment and accelerate the development of housing and infrastructure that the UK needs to drive economic growth. Processes and requirements that slow down development will be stripped back with the intention of attracting new investment.
Created at the end of the Brexit transition period, Retained EU Law is a category of domestic law that consists of EU-derived legislation retained in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement as parliament promised to deal with retained EU law through the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the “Bill”).
It is clear that the digital landscape, often termed cyberspace, is a man-made environment, in which human behaviour dominates and where technology both influences and aids our role in it — through the internet, telecoms and networked computer systems, which are often interdependent. The extent to which any organisation is potentially vulnerable to cyber-attack depends on how well these elements are aligned.
Three months on from the commencement of the new statutory Integrated Care Systems (ICS) Anja Beriro and Gerrard Hanratty reflect on the main themes and issues that have come from the new relationship between local government and health.
The Procurement Bill (the Bill) has now been with us for about four months, during which time there have been a huge number of amendments proposed in the House of Lords (circa 320). Lately, there has been less mention of it — unsurprising, really, given everything else going on in politics recently — but here’s a summary of some of the key issues and themes so far.
Browne Jacobson has been named as a supplier on Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Public Sector Legal Services Framework on Lot 1a – full-service provision (England and Wales) and Lot 2a – general service provision (England and Wales).
Browne Jacobson has been ranked as a Top Tier law firm in 25 key practice areas in Legal 500 UK 2023, the independent directory of comparative law firm performance. The firm also continues to underpin its status as one of the leading law firms in the East Midlands region with 16 Tier 1 rankings.
Welcome to our September edition of Public Matters, our monthly round-up of legal updates, news and insights for the public sector.