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.
Adult social care: Public services White Paper: all lawyers advising public bodies should note the plans that the government has set out in its public services White Paper.
Health: those working in the NHS should note that the Department of Health has published two documents dealing with the new regime proposed under the Health and Social Care Bill 2011:
- A new Human Resources Transition Framework.
- Developing the NHS Commissioning Board.
Housing: two decisions which will be of interest to housing lawyers have been published this week:
- While local authorities will welcome the High Court’s decision in Babakandi v Westminster City Council holding that Westminster’s housing allocation scheme was not unlawful or legally flawed because it precluded those with rent arrears from bidding for available properties, they should review policies to check that correspondence with applicants is tailored to their specific circumstances to prevent confusion.
- The decision of the High Court to quash the designation of certain areas as subject to selective licensing under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 for a failure to adequately consult serves as a general reminder that decisions taken by public authorities are currently under the microscope. Therefore, they must be taken in compliance with the legal requirements and, in particular, any obligation to consult must be taken seriously and fulfilled.
Education: those acting for schools should note that that the Department for Education has:
- Published guidance on improving discipline in schools and dealing with bad behaviour.
- Changed the definition of “persistent absence” for pupils not attending school.
Education lawyers will also be interested in:
- The LGO’s recent reports finding Leeds City Council guilty of maladministration causing injustice in relation to failures in its provision of education and care services to three children with special educational needs.
- The government’s proposals to reform early years education.
Pensions: those advising local authorities on eligibility for membership of the Teacher’s Pension Scheme should note the Court of Appeal decision holding that a pupil counsellor met the definition of teacher set out in the Superannuation Act 1972. The cost implications of this decision will be of interest to any local authority making changes to staff structures in schools and also to any provider to whom any staff may be outsourced.
Information law: information lawyers should note:
- The tribunal decision confirming that public authorities do not have a right to claim the costs exemption in section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 late. Therefore authorities should consider relying on the section 12 exemption alongside any substantive exemption under Part 2 of the Act from the outset when appropriate.
- The government has committed to publishing more data on the NHS, schools, criminal justice, transport and public spending.
Public procurement: procurement lawyers in Wales should be aware that the Welsh Language Board has published guidance on contracting out public service contracts and the Welsh language.
Equality Act 2010: public authorities should be aware that the Equality Act 2010 (Commencement No 7) Order 2011 has been published and brings into force provisions of the Act relating to reasonable adjustments in Scotland and the approval of premises for the registration of civil partnerships.
Consultations: this week consultations have been published on:
- Implementing social housing reform: directions to the Social Housing Regulator.
- Reasonable adjustments of general qualifications in Wales.