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.
Community right to challenge: local government lawyers should note that regulations and draft statutory guidance have been published in preparation for when the community right to challenge under the Localism Act 2011 comes into force.
Decision-making and licence fee setting: local authority lawyers should note the decision of the High Court in Hemming v Westminster City Council and ensure that decisions are made at the appropriate level and that fees charged under licence schemes subject to the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 only cover the cost of administering the scheme and take account of any surplus made by the authority in a previous year.
Employment: employment lawyers advising on the potential application of TUPE should note the EAT decision in Seawell Ltd v Ceva Freight (UK) Ltd and another in which it held that a single employee who worked on only one contract was not an organised group of employees for the purposes of TUPE when the client took the activities that the contractor had provided back in house.
FOI: information lawyers should be aware that the ICO has published an action plan for its new model publication scheme for public authorities.
Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA 2012): those with an interest in the HSCA 2012 will be interested to note that:
- A first commencement order has been made under it.
- An order has been made establishing Health Education England.
- An announcement has been made confirming that public health staff transferring from the NHS to local authorities will continue to retain access to the NHS pension scheme.
Housing: housing lawyers will be interested in a recent Court of Appeal decision in Maswaku v Westminster City Council holding that there is no requirement on local housing authorities to notify an applicant seeking assistance under the homelessness provisions of the Housing Act 1996 of all possible consequences associated with refusing an offer of temporary accommodation. It is sufficient to have stated that the applicant would no longer be owed a duty by the housing authority following a refusal.
Human rights: lawyers dealing with the administration of benefits will find the Supreme Court decision in Humphreys v Revenue and Customs of interest. The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal seeking to have the child tax credit benefit split between carer where both parties could be considered to have “main responsibility” for the children. The appeal was dismissed primarily on the grounds that although the “no splitting” rule did indirectly discriminate against men it was there to prevent child poverty and to ensure that the full benefit entitlement benefitted children as much as possible. However, the decision did confirm that the right to a tax credit is a possession for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Welsh local government: local government lawyers in Wales should be aware that the Welsh government has published a local government White Paper setting out measures for improving local democracy. The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 (Commencement No.2 and Saving Provisions) Order 2012 has also been published bringing a number of provisions of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 into force.
Planning: planning lawyers should note the guides published by the Environment Agency for its staff to take account of when acting in the role of statutory consultee for certain developments under the new National Planning Policy Framework.
Public procurement: public procurement lawyers will be interested in the High Court decision in Montpellier Estates Limited v Leeds City Council in relation to applications for disclosure and security for costs in the context of a public procurement challenge.
Consultations and consultation responses: this week the following consultations have been published on:
- Proposals to introduce mandatory training for governors and clerks to governing bodies in Wales.
- Removing third-party harassment provisions from the Equality Act 2010.
- Abolishing discrimination questionnaires and removing the power of employment tribunals to make non-binding recommendations beyond those intended to benefit the successful claimant.
- Draft guidelines on planning and environmental permitting.
- Public rights of way.
- Further stretches of the coastal access path.
- A Welsh Sustainable Development Bill.
The following consultation responses have also been published this week:
- The government’s response to its consultation on streamlining council housing asset management and published the list of general housing consents for 2012.
- The response to the reforms of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
- The government’s response to its consultation on strengthening powers of possession for anti-social behaviour by introducing a new mandatory ground for possession and amending the existing discretionary ground. This was published alongside a White Paper setting out new tools for tackling anti-social behaviour.
The government also published the Beecroft report on employment law.