We have been working with care homes to update their contracts and advise on the risks of charging the resident a regular “top-up” or additional fee where a resident is funded through NHS CHC
The Government have finally published the changes to the arrangements for holding local authority meetings that came into effect on 4 April. These are the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.
These regulations relate to local authority and also police and crime panel meetings that should be held before 7 May 2021, so we can anticipate that next year things will return to normal.
They allow local authorities to hold meetings remotely, which amends the issues in Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act 1972, which provides that members must be present. However, the rules around voting and the casting vote of the chair remain.
It means that meetings can be held via telephone conferencing, videoconferencing, webcasts and live streaming, provided that members can be seen, heard and participate, and councils can amend their standing orders accordingly. This would, we suggest, include requirements for members to remain visible/online at all times throughout a meeting so that it is certain that they heard all of the debate.
The changes also mean that the annual meetings of local authorities that would otherwise have been held before the end of May, do not need to be held this year, as the appointments to Chairman, Mayor, committees etc. will continue until either the next annual meeting in May 2021 or until “such time as the authority determines”. In effect, therefore, it is as though everything rolls on for another year.
In other parts of the regulations, and worth noting, is the requirement that press and public access is, in effect, to be utilised as if the meeting was held as normal. So arrangements for public meetings should enable the press and public to access.
What this practically means for local authorities is that they can hold meetings on a “virtual“ basis. For councils who have a committee system, this will be very helpful, as it means that any decisions that need to be taken by the council can go ahead. For councils who operate an executive system, it enables them to operate more or less as normal, particularly where very little is delegated to a single Cabinet member.
It does mean, however, that all councils required to have an annual meeting will not hold this and can continue should they wish with the existing arrangements.
On a practical level, this means that it can be business as usual for local authorities provided, of course, that they can ensure that every member who is on a committee or a member of council can participate throughout the meeting.
The first thing that authorities should do, therefore, is to ensure that all members can participate in meetings when they would typically be expected to participate; or if they are appointed to a particular committee or another body. It would be wrong, in my view, to go ahead without this and so where some duly appointed members who would otherwise be expected to participate are not able to do so. Or do so on an incomplete basis.
However, once members have the necessary technology to participate, it is more or less business as normal. There will, however, be a necessity to ensure first of all, that members are comfortable and able to use the new arrangements, whatever the council chooses.
The alternative is to continue with the use of urgency powers on a delegation to the Chief Executive. This could continue; although in many cases, local authorities have been concerned about using this for matters affecting the public, mostly relating to planning. It may be advisable to try to replicate your ordinary rules within the revised guidance.
Whilst the changes do not specifically relate to the issue of non-attendance for six months, hopefully, any member who is likely to come towards that can be reminded and can participate in a virtual meeting before the six months is up.
The parliamentary processes are complete and the Restriction of Public Exit Payments Regulations 2020 (“the Regulations”) which cap exit payments in the public sector at £95,000 will be in force from 4 November.
As the UK’s social housing sector recovers from the initial Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, now is the time to focus on the challenges that may emerge next.
There is no universal approach to regenerating town centres. However, housing must be considered a key part of any regeneration project – providing well-needed new homes and economic growth.
Friday 16 October marks the 6th annual Wear Red Day in England, Wales and Scotland. Wear Red Day is the brainchild of the charity; Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC). SRTRC aims to educate young people so they are equipped to recognise and challenge stereotypes, misconceptions and negative attitudes towards race.
Alongside the Building Safety Bill published in July 2020, the Fire Safety Bill is a key step in the Government’s strategy to improve building and fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy
Government regulations came into force on 23 September 2020 providing LGPS (local government pension scheme) employers with flexibility on meeting exit payments and LGPS funds with flexibility too
Charity Financials, the financial information program from Wilmington Charities, has published its latest Income Monitor report.
As employers face the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 31 October 2020, Katherine Sinclair and Libby Hubbard discuss the intricacies of the redundancy process for furloughed employees.
We have learned many things over the last six months; the latest lesson is that there is no new normal. The Government initiatives and guidance may have slowed down a pace, but the challenges for employers and their employees remain.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.