Local Authority Matters – June 2020


15th June 2020

COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the economy and posing an ever increasing challenge to many businesses in the UK. The situation continues to be fast moving, with new measures being announced as the Government addresses the key issues facing individuals, public bodies and businesses and we are seeing the nature of the legislative landscape changing rapidly. We have most recently seen the Chancellor announce a four month extension of the furlough scheme until the end of October and employers now tackling the crucial issue of how to make their workplaces COVID-19 secure to help people return to work safely.

For this edition of Local Authority Matters we are focusing on the legal impact of coronavirus. We cover why public bodies should pay close attention to the recently released Procurement Policy Note (PPN 04/20) and how that has updated and built upon PPN 02/20, and a recent case serving as a reminder that the timescales for challenging an alleged breach of the procurement regulations are strict. We also look at the best way to structure a deal where a local authority is acquiring a site for development and how local authorities are looking at ways to avoid delaying planning applications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally we cover the significant changes announced by the Chancellor to the furlough scheme from 1 July, what employers need to know about holiday entitlement and pay for employees on furlough and details of the measures employers can take to help people return to work safely during COVID-19.

Blake Morgan has been hosting a series of webinars throughout the pandemic to help our clients navigate the challenging period by focusing on those areas we are being asked the most questions about. For our latest, ‘Contracts and Coronavirus’ on how contractual agreements will change in light of COVID-19, we were joined by over 250 attendees, who asked questions live to our panel. We discussed force majeure and how businesses can take steps to protect themselves. We’re very pleased to say 97.3% of those who attended and responded to our feedback questionnaire said the webinar was either excellent or good. For those of you who missed it, you can download a copy of the webinar, see a list of the case citations referred to and access other relevant sources here. We also think you will find this guide on force majeure and frustration particularly useful.

You can also keep up to date with our latest articles and blogs on legal issues arising during this pandemic by going to the dedicated COVID-19 insights section, which is updated on a daily basis.

I hope you will find all the articles below informative and helpful, and if you would like any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or your usual Blake Morgan contact.

Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 04/20: recovery and transition from COVID-19

The Cabinet Office has published Procurement Policy Note (PPN) 04/20: recovery and transition from COVID-19, which provides information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during the current COVID-19 outbreak. The note updates and builds on the provisions contained in PPN 02/20.

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COVID-19 – supplier relief under a new procurement policy notice

Public bodies should pay close attention to the Procurement Policy Note (PPN 02/20) that has been released by the Government, or risk suppliers bringing legal action against them.

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A ticking time bomb for procurement claims?

The recent High Court judgment in Riverside Truck Rental Ltd v Lancashire County Council [2020] EWHC 1018 (TCC) reminded us that the timescales for challenging an alleged breach of the procurement regulations are strict.

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Buy and build for a local authority

At Blake Morgan we often bring our expertise with different areas of law together to recommend the best way to structure a deal. Doing this can save the client money and help the transaction proceed more smoothly. One example is where a local authority is to acquire a site for development, which in a typical scenario, there are various purchase structures open to them.

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Planning applications during COVID-19: avoid constitutional pitfalls

Local authorities are looking at ways to avoid delaying planning applications during the COVID-19 pandemic. To remove the need for planning committee approval, some local authorities have sought to amend their schemes of delegation to enable a greater range of planning application decisions to be taken by council officers.

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What are the changes to the furlough scheme from July 2020?

There will be significant changes to the furlough scheme from 1 July onwards. These include flexible furloughing, employers’ contributions and the closing of the scheme to new entrants and the changes will have considerable implications for employers and their staff and current furlough agreements.

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What do employers need to know about holiday entitlement and pay during COVID-19?

The issue of coronavirus, holiday pay and annual leave on furlough raises a number of complex issues. Employers will welcome the recently published Government Guidance which will help them to understand their legal obligations regarding workers who continue to work and those who are furloughed.

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Work safely during COVID-19: measures for employers to re-opening workplaces

Many employers are now tackling the crucial issue of how to make their workplaces COVID-19 secure taking into account the extensive guidance that is available. We set out details of the measures employers can take to help people return to work safely during COVID-19 if they cannot work from home.

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