Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Think localism act locally - and nationally

I've been thinking a bit more about the statutory guidance on the community right to challenge (which was also the subject of a sound post yesterday on the UNISON Active Blog (http://unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/statutory-guidance-to-councils-reveals.html?m=1).

The relevant law is in Chapter Two of the Localism Act, from s81 onwards (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/20/part/5/chapter/2/enacted).

The Act empowers the Secretary of State to issue Regulations, and to issue guidance to elaborate upon its provisions.

Schedule 2 of The Community Right to Challenge (Expressions of Interest and Excluded Services) (England) Regulations 2012 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1313/schedule/2/made) demonstrates that pretty much any in-house service is vulnerable to an "expression of interest".

S83(8) of the Localism Act provides that "A relevant authority must, in considering an expression of interest, consider whether acceptance of the expression of interest would promote or improve the social, economic or environmental well-being of the authority's area." However under s83(11), "The relevant authority may reject the expression of interest only on one or more grounds specified by the Secretary of State by regulations."

The Schedule to The Community Right to Challenge (Fire and Rescue Authorities and Rejection of Expressions of Interest) (England) Regulations 2012 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2012/9780111523872/schedule) lists the only permissible reasons for rejecting an expression of interest (and therefore triggering a procurement exercise).

S85(2) provides that "A relevant authority must, in exercising its functions under or by virtue of this Chapter, have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State." The guidance, issued Monday, about which I blogged yesterday, expands upon the grounds for rejecting expressions of interest.

However, reviewing both the primary and secondary legislation, it is clear that the authors of the draft statutory guidance have gone a step further with their attempt to bully Councils into not permitting "in-house" bids.

We need national support for local branches to engage with local authorities to seek to preserve public services - and a national campaign to resist, and for the repeal of, this attempt to destroy local provision of public services.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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