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LOCAL GOVERNMENT HIGHLIGHTS OF THE QUEEN'S SPEECH

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Local Government Bill ...
Local Government Bill

'Wide new power' for councils to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area.

Councils able to develop comprehensive 'community strategies' identifying local needs and setting out what councils and other bodies will do to meet them.

Powers for secretary of state to remove existing legislation which obstructs the use of the well-being power.

Power for secretary of state to remove statutory requirements to produce plans and strategies where these stand in the way of more effective approaches to meet local needs.

Introduction of new political management structures, allowing councils to create an executive body.

Creation of scrutiny committees to hold the executive to account.

Council have to consult local people on plans to move to a new structure involving either a directly elected mayor or an indirectly elected leader heading a cabinet.

Where a directly elected mayor is proposed by the council, 5% of the electorate or the secretary of state, there would have to be a referendum.

Power for the secretary of state to alter the frequency of elections for individual councils 'to increase accountability'.

Statutory codes of conduct for councillors, overseen by local standards committees, directed by an independent body, the Standards Board, to investigate misconduct allegations.

Similar codes of conduct to be included in employees' terms and conditions.

Auditor's power to issue a prohibition notice to prevent an act considered unlawful to be replaced by advisory notices, allowing the auditor time to seek a court ruling.

New role in providing and funding housing support services for vulnerable people, funded by a new grant.

Repeal of s28 of the Local Government Act 1988 preventing councils from promoting homosexuality.

Transport Bill

Powers for local traffic authorities to introduce road user charges and workplace parking charges.

Exercise of road user and workplace parking charge powers subject to approval of schemes by secretary of state.

Councils to retain revenues for at least 10 years to invest in improving local transport.

Powers for councils to enter quality partnerships with bus companies, eg for operators to agree to upgrade buses in return for councils introducing bus priority measures.

Powers for councils to enter quality contracts, including exlusive deals, specifying details of the services to be provided.

Powers for councils to require bus operators to co-operate in providing joint ticketing arrangements.

Post-16 Education and Training Bill

Establishes the National Learning and Skills Council, responsible for planning and funding all post-16 education and training, other than higher education, in England.

The NLSC will work with councils to develop adult and community learning.

It will 'work with the schools sector to ensure coherence across all 14-19 education'.

NLSC will work through 47 business-led local arms which will plan and fund learning provision locally.

Creates another inspectorate, the Adult Learning Inspectorate.

Creates a Youth Support Service 'offering a comprehensive structure for advice and support for all young people from the age of 13'.

Enables the Welsh Assembly to establish a Council for Education and Training and put in place its own structures for post-16 education and training.

Care Leavers Bill

Improves the system for supporting young people leaving local authority care.

Places a duty on councils to assess and meet the care and support needs of eligible young people aged 16 and 17 whether they choose to remain in care or not.

Responsibility falls on the last council to look after the care leaver, regardless of whether he or she moves.

All eligible young people to have a Pathway Plan from their 16th birthday mapping their route to independence. It would cover education, training, career plans and the support the council will provide.

Each person to have a young person's adviser responsible for keeping in touch with them and overseeing the Pathway Plan.

Removal of perverse incentive for councils to force children out of their care at 16. These 16 and 17-year-olds will not be able to claim non-contributory benefits; the funds to be transferred to a new budget allocated to councils to enable them to respond more flexibly to young people's needs.

Duty on responsible council to assist care leaver in higher education with vacation accommodation and may assist with costs of education and training up to the age of 24.

Welfare Reform Bill

Powers available to council and Benefits Agency fraud inspectors to be aligned and clarified, allowing closer working.

Care Standards Bill

Aims to stamp out abuse in care homes.

Establishes independent arrangements for regulating residential and nursing homes for elderly or the disabled, children's homes, domiciliary care, fostering agencies and other services.

Independent watchdogs to cover all services.

Currently exempt services such as council-run homes required to register.

Establishes General Social Care Council for England and a Care Council for Wales. These supersede the Central Council for the Education and Training of Social Workers.

Race Relations (Amendment) Bill

Extends Race Relations Act 1976 to make it unlawful for a public authority to discriminate directly in carrying out any of its functions

Special Educational Needs Bill

Duty on LEAs to provide schools with information on special educational needs services available.

Provide parents of these children with access to an independent parental supporter.

Require LEAs to establish conciliation arrangements for resolving disputes with parents.

Require LEAs to comply with orders of the Special Educational Needs Tribunal.

Duty on schools and LEAs not to discriminate against disabled children.

Duty on LEAs to plan systematically to increase the accessibility of schools for disabled children.

Representation of the People Bill

Introduction of a rolling electoral register, so people can register at any time of year.

Councils free to pilot alternative voting arrangements such as changing voting times and days, mobile polling and electronic voting.

Successful schemes may be introduced nationally.

Freedom of Information Bill

Statutory right of access to information, subject to certain conditions and exemptions for a wide range of public bodies, including councils and schools.

Requires bodies to consider the disclosure of information in the public interest even where an exemption applies.

Requires public authorities to adopt a scheme for the publication of information.

Countryside Bill

More powers for councils - yet to be finalised - to enforce rights of access to countryside.

Electronic Communications Bill

Underpins the target to deliver 25% of government services electronically by 2002

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