PLC Public Sector reports:
Make sure that you have not missed a key development in your area of the law by reviewing our latest list of recommended actions.
This week’s actions are:
Assessing the age of asylum seekers: social services lawyers should ensure that officers with responsibility for interviewing and assessing the age of unaccompanied asylum seekers claiming to be children familiarise themselves with the best practice interviewing principles outlined in NA v London Borough of Croydon.
Data sharing: lawyers in Welsh local authorities should ensure that the relevant departments in their authority are aware that from 9 November 2009 they can share certain income-related benefits data with the Department for Works and Pensions.
Debt recovery: litigation lawyers considering issuing bankruptcy proceedings against individuals for debt recovery should bear in mind the recent LGO decisions where two councils were criticised by the Ombudsman for taking bankruptcy proceedings. Local authorities should only consider commencing such proceedings as a last resort and after a full and comprehensive investigation has been carried out into why the debt was incurred.
Employment issues: HR staff in local authorities and lawyers advising maintained schools and their governing bodies should be reminded that:
- the barring provisions in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 came into force on 12 October 2009; and
- new school staffing regulations come into force in England on 2 November 2009.
Environment: local authorities working to reduce their organisations’ carbon footprints will be interested in reading the Government’s response to the consultation on the draft Carbon Reduction Commitment Order.
Housing: those advising housing officers should alert them to:
- the new requirement for lenders to notify local housing authorities that they are repossessing borrowers’ homes and familiarise themselves with the guidance published by the DCLG; and
- the Commission decision in Glasgow, which reiterates the commonly held view that a transfer of social housing stock should be awarded only after a tendering process has been conducted in accordance with Directive 2004/18/EC.
Partnership working: lawyers advising on local authority partnerships with the NHS should familiarise themselves with the revised practice guide on NHS-funded nursing care.
Standards Committees: those advising Standards Committees in Wales should be aware that new regulations mean a Standards Committee can request the Ombudsman for Wales or the authority’s monitoring officer to attend before them to present or explain their investigation report to the committee.
If you wish to submit your views on any of the actions we have recommended, or would like to highlight any other issues that you feel need action by public sector lawyers, please feel free to submit a comment below.