Government policy to reduce the UK’s deficit is naturally impacting on public bodies, who are being challenged to deliver more for less. The implications of this are far-reaching and driving major change throughout all areas of national, regional and local government, the NHS and the education sector in particular, the latter of which must look at finding alternative funding.
Increasingly, the public sector is also being given new-found freedoms with the power to operate in a similar way to the private sector. For public sector bodies that can navigate the new frameworks there are clear opportunities - but it is critical to get it right.
DWF conducted a public survey and participated in a panel discussion on the issue at the recent Conservative Party Conference.
Our multi-disciplinary public sector group brings together expertise in central, regional and local government, healthcare, education, charities and social enterprise. We seek to capitalise on our individuals' vast experience across the many different strands of the public sector, working both on behalf of public bodies and the private partners that work with them.
We provide our public sector clients with a full range of legal services such as real estate support and development planning, commercial and construction advice, and day-to-day support on employment, data protection and freedom of information. Our work also spans banking, commercial contracts, competition law (including State aid), construction, funding applications and projects, health and safety, insolvency, insurance claims and counter fraud services, joint ventures, collaborations and partnerships, judicial reviews, litigation, mergers & acquisitions, major regeneration projects, mutuals, PFI projects, pensions, public procurement, regulatory and compliance issues, social housing, strategic planning advice, and vires and governance.
All of this advice is specifically tailored to the needs of the public sector using the specialist knowledge of our team.
From a UK regional perspective, Scotland and Northern Ireland face their own unique economic and regulatory challenges and our Scottish and Northern Irish teams offer expertise across all areas of practice.
The firm's Public Sector practice also spans beyond the UK and the skills and experience the firm has is often readily transferable across other jurisdictions (e.g. EU law and the firm's Brussels office operates across the network). Other jurisdictions in which the firm has particular public sector presence and skills outside the UK include Dubai, Ireland and Germany.
We work for over 100 UK local authorities, police authorities, charities, education and healthcare providers, Local Enterprise Partnerships and many central government agencies.
We also work for private sector public service providers and businesses that work with the public sector such as developers, construction companies, outsourced services provides, inward investors and port and transport authorities.
Names you may recognise include Liverpool City Council, Manchester City Council, Birmingham City Council, Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, Transport Scotland, Serco Plc, Homes England, the West Midlands Combined Authority and a wide variety of London Boroughs.
DWF’s Public Sector team are experts at advising public and private sector recipients of European Structural and Investment Funds on how to handle audits.
DWF is delighted to have been appointed to the Crown Commercial Services framework for 'Wider Public Sector – Legal Services' (RM3788). This means that if you are a public sector organisation and you qualify to use this CCS framework, you can now appoint us through the contract. Find out more and download our prospectuses.
As Brexit approaches, Public Sector and Private Sector bodies are increasingly calling for the Government to launch a formal consultation on the allocation, design and delivery of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which it is proposed shall replace the c.€13bn (£11.4bn) of EU funding which will be lost to the UK as a result of leaving the European Union. The appointment of Boris Johnson as the new Prime Minister means Brexit on 31 October 2019 is much more likely and the need for certainty around future regeneration funding is more pressing.
Our latest report has been developed in association with leading publication, Local Government Chronicle, to assess the commercial challenges, the commercial models available and the strategies being adopted by local authorities and other public bodies across the UK.
It has been announced that the "Expanded Retail Discount" initiative shall be awarded on a 'no aid' basis, following discussions with the European Commission, which is good news for larger retailers who had been concerned that the new business rates relief measure announced to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown may have been subject to a €800,000 cap.
The UK has received approval for a State aid scheme making use of the new options available under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework. This has just been revised by the European Commission on Friday 3 April to include generous measures to fund COVID-19 related R&D, testing centres and factories to manufacture devices, equipment and treatments. The new UK scheme includes the ability to fund such initiatives.
The Government has launched the Small Business Grant Fund ("SBGF") and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund ("RHLGF") which shall make grant awards to eligible businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These FAQs have been designed to assist Local Authorities administering the SBGF and RHLGF programmes as well as eligible businesses receiving such funds.
The CMA published a guidance outlining its approach to businesses cooperating during the COVID-19 crisis and explaining what arrangements could be legal under competition law during the crisis.
The UK Government has stated that contracting authorities must now take measures to ensure that suppliers at risk are in a position to resume normal contract delivery once the COVID-19 outbreak is over. The Government has issued PPN 02/20 which provides guidance on how public bodies should deal with their existing contractual arrangements so as to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Parliament has shut down for a month to combat the spread of coronavirus. One of its last acts, in the final session, was to pass through the Coronavirus Bill, which received Royal Assent on Wednesday night. At the same time Royal Assent was given to the very short Contingencies Funding Act 2020, which provides the Government departments with the authority to expend resources, capital and cash via the supply process.
Whilst some of the detail remains subject to further sub-ordinate legislation we have set out below a list of the key provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (the "Act") as they relate to local authorities.
The Public Sector team are experts in working with sector organisations to improve of the economic and social wellbeing of their communities, and deliver high quality and cost effective services.