PLC Public Sector reports:
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Equality Act 2010: those responsible for ensuring compliance with equality legislation should be aware that the ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, services and facilities, that was introduced by the Equality Act 2010, comes into force on 1 October 2012. On the same day, the Equality Act 2010 (Age Exceptions) Order 2012, introduces a number of exceptions in relation to discrimination because of age, including an exception to allow any private or public service provider to use age to determine eligibility for discounts, concessions or benefits.
Employment: employment lawyers advising public bodies will be interested in the following decisions published this week:
- In Governing Body of Tubbenden Primary School v Sylvester, the EAT held that a tribunal, which accepted that a school had lost trust and confidence in a teacher and therefore had “some other substantial reason” for her dismissal, was entitled to find that the dismissal was unfair. In considering reasonableness under section 98(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, it was appropriate for the tribunal to have regard to the immediate history leading up to the dismissal and look beyond the mere fact there had been a breakdown in trust and confidence.
- In Hawes & Curtis Ltd v Arfan and another , the EAT rejected the employer’s appeal that, in a case of summary dismissal, the effective date of termination (EDT) is the date on which a summary dismissal is communicated, and held that an appeal is capable of varying the EDT.
Fraud: local authorities and DWP staff involved in investigating benefit fraud should note that the DWP has published a fraud guide for use by its staff investigating benefit fraud.
Health: those responsible for implementing the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 may find the Department of Health’s updated factsheets on the Act of interest.
Local government: local government officers should be aware that the:
- Local Elections (Declaration of Acceptance of Office) Order 2012, which prescribes the form of declaration of office that a local authority member is required to make on taking office, has been laid before Parliament and comes into force on 9 July 2012.
- Sustainable Communities Regulations 2012 have been laid before Parliament and come into force on 26 July 2012. The regulations include the mandatory steps local authorities must take before making a proposal that they consider will contribute to promoting the sustainability of their local communities, the Secretary of State’s duties in response to a proposal and the role of the Selector.
Local authorities should also note that the government has published the Bellwin scheme thresholds and guidance notes for claims for emergency financial assistance made by local authorities in 2012/13.
Public procurement: procurement officers will be interested in the Scottish Court of Session’s decision in Shetland Line (1984) Ltd v Scottish Ministers granting the Scottish Ministers’ application to lift the automatic suspension of their procurement process and allow them to enter into a contract with the successful bidder (Transport Scotland) for the provision of ferry services, pending the outcome of an appeal against the procurement procedure. The Court of Session did so on the basis that it considered that the unsuccessful bidder had put forward a weak prima facie case.
RIPA: information lawyers and officers will be interested to know that:
- The Communications Data Bill, which has just been published, proposes that local authorities and other public bodies that have access to communications data will no longer be able obtain that information unless Parliament agrees that their use is essential to tackling crime and protecting the public.
- The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) (Amendment) Order 2012, that comes into force on 1 November 2012, restricts the circumstances in which local authorities may authorise directed surveillance under RIPA.
Consultations: this week consultations were launched on:
- Standard rules for industrial emissions, waste and water discharge environmental permits.
- Dealing with high income tenants in social housing.
- Whether existing arrangements for town and parish councils to submit “barrier busting” proposals are appropriate.
- Welsh internal drainage districts and boards.