In a challenging economic climate with continuing budget cuts and increasing expectations of staff, sickness absence remains an ongoing problem that is important to address.
In line with the Government’s aim to see all local authorities with adoption responsibilities participating in regional adoption agencies (RAAs) by 2020, the Department for Education has approved the setting up of 5 new adoption agencies involving a total of 17 councils.
With this ongoing shift in service delivery, we have set out below our top considerations for councils:
- The Vision: is it consistent across all the councils involved? Has there been engagement with key voluntary adoption agencies active locally and regionally? As with any collaboration, the cultural and strategic fit between councils and VAAs can make or break the venture.
- Are there any Children’s Trusts involved in managing children’s services for any of the councils? Their ongoing involvement once the RAA is up and running will need to be documented and fit with the legal form selected.
- Legal Form: this could be a hosted service model through a joint committee or the creation of a jointly owned entity. As part of this, early consideration should be given to how decision making will work and who will be responsible for what decisions (including where decisions will be delegated).
- Procurement: in both models compliance with the public procurement regime will be necessary. Adoption services fall within the Light Touch Regime, so do your arrangements comply with Regulation 12, Public Contracts Regulations 2015 – whether Teckal or Hamburg Waste co-operation?
- Voluntary adoption agency involvement: Cross-sector collaboration is an expectation. Is there a need to procure this if the agency will be providing services to the RAA?
- Staff: the RAA’s staffing requirements need to be identified at an early stage to ensure both proper consultation and buy-in from staff but also compliance with TUPE. Ongoing pension provision and responsibility for past and future pension liabilities will need to be factored in.
- Assets: what assets is the RAA going to need to function? This could be anything from office space, to server capacity and mobile phones. Identify what assets each council has for the service, what can be dispensed with and what can transfer (including the basis upon which it will transfer or be made available to the RAA – taking into account State-aid rules where they apply).
- Support Services: which council or councils is/are best placed to support the operation of the RAA? In the case of a hosted joint committee, this will most likely be the host council, but both models could include a mixture of councils providing different support. How will the councils account for this support?
- Regulatory compliance: consider what each council’s current relationship is with OFSTED and other regulators. Is there anything that the new RAA would need to factor into service delivery? The RAA will need to engage with OFSTED and ensure that it has all correct consents in place.
- State aid: unlikely to be an issue, but once legal form and structure of service delivery and support are known then advice should be obtained to ensure there is full State-aid compliance.
Social housing providers will routinely have a number of construction projects underway at any one time. It is essential for client teams to understand and avoid key contract management pitfalls.
A recent case stands as a good reminder to employers to be careful when distinguishing between pensionable employment under a pension scheme’s rules and employment under a contract of employment.
By early morning on 3 May, it was clear that there had been a huge change in the composition of many councils across the country.
Following our new partner announcement, it is with great pleasure that we can announce additional promotions.
Even those of us with zero football knowledge will most likely know of the shenanigans at a Chelsea FC game this season.
The gig economy, the tensions between it, and our more established ways of working are rarely far from the news these days.
The case of Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd v Crawford  EWCA Civil 269 will not win awards for excitement but is useful guidance when dealing with workers’ rest periods under the WTR 1998.
Non-UK nationals will surely be worried about an uncertain future, with much still unclear. These feelings will inevitably accompany people to work, and so employers need to be prepared.
Pension disputes in the LGPS need to be dealt with through the Internal Dispute Resolution Procedure. Join Doug Mullen for a free 45 minute webinar on getting the process right.
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