As we enter a recession, we have been here before, and a key question is what did we learn and how can we benefit from that learning?
Hello to all.
It is as ever a busy week for Local Government, and therefore for local authority lawyers. Those involved in the forthcoming Referendum are by all accounts incredibly busy managing the difficulties involved with running such an electoral event, as well, no doubt as considering the likely impacts of the result, no matter what the result will be. There are the usual large numbers of variable issues affecting Local Government, ranging from working out the real impact of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, developments in the Devolution Agenda at local level, growing concerns about funding social care and delivering effective integration with health, especially in light of the crisis in care homes; and those good old stalwarts of bins and fly tipping are always tin there somewhere (even now that Mr Pickles is a fading memory as Secretary of State, his legacy lives on…).
I could have written about all or any of these and promise to do so in detail in the future, but for my first blog for Local Government Lawyer I thought that I would choose something a little different. This was prompted partly by going along to the launch earlier this week of a paper written by Collaborate, which is a social business based at the London South Bank University. They have written some very interesting papers around the subject of cross sector collaboration in public services and can be found here. If you or your council is interested in collaboration, and frankly, what council is not these days; I would urge you to have a look.
The event this week was to launch a paper called “The Anatomy of Collaboration”, focused primarily on health and social care, although the parallels between these sectors and other public services delivery are obviously very strong. It was a fascinating launch, followed by an in-depth discussion about the necessity for collaboration and what is needed to make collaboration possible so that better outcomes for service users, people and place can be delivered. What has to happen across in public services is to move from managing supply, to managing demand, and this is achieved most effectively by collaboration. In terms of overcoming the financial and other resource shortages hitting the public sector at a growing pace, it probably offers the best, if not only, solution. It is however a long-term issue. And those involved in public health, the integration of health and social care and the impact of the Care Act know that one of the biggest policy shifts over the last few years has been the welcome move to a longer term preventative agenda rather than one that is merely reactive; we also know that the substantial investment which is required to make this a reality is often still very difficult to find.
This led me to think about what the demands are for local authority lawyers in the future. Whilst I can’t see that the need for core legal skills across property, housing, childcare etc. will go away, the ways in which those skills are delivered, may very well change, as may the balance of where those skills lie within, or indeed, outside the legal services team of a council. As lawyers climb the organisation puzzle tree inside the Council however, there will also, I believe, be a requirement for a substantial skill set which goes well beyond professional expertise into delivering a wider advisory capacity. Senior lawyers already do this, of course, and very well indeed in many cases, but the shift, which will also of course affect other senior officers within the council, may well be that managing the governance of the complex delivery chains is something that takes up a growing part of their time. We all know for example that partnership working is not easy and it never will be. So what! Partnership agreements and other collaborative arrangements, some based on harder edged commercial deals; others on arrangements of a more collaborative nature will be needed, and the skill will be to devise these so that they deliver the Council’s strategic priorities in a way that is effective for the service user and affordable for the public body.
As the duplicity of arrangements becomes more complicated local authority lawyers will need to be able to advise upon how those can be put into place with governance arrangements that work, are pragmatic, focus on patient or service user need, and have the right levels of bureaucracy (as you always need some) and accountability in place. These arrangements, advising on them, developing them, monitoring them and explaining them, and the time this will take up for the most senior lawyers in the council, will I believe be of huge importance for many local authority lawyers in the future. The importance of doing this should emphasise the need for these legal skills at the top table.
This article first appeared on the Local Government Lawyers Newsletter on 10th June 2016.
For more information
Please contact Olwen Dutton
It is anticipated that as lockdown restrictions ease, and particularly with children and young adults returning to education, cases of meningitis will start to rise.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
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.