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Statutory guidance to enforce expectations

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Eric Pickles’ mooted legal code of conduct setting out how councils should engage with third sector groups is likely to be achieved through statutory guidance rather than amendments to the Localism Bill.

Decentralisation minister Greg Clark ruled out the use of amendments, saying the bill was still “some months away” from Royal Assent and ministers were minded to act sooner. Mr Clark said there were “a number of statutory bases” available to give the code of conduct legal force.

A Department for Communities & Local Government spokesman said the code of conduct could “potentially be delivered through secondary legislation and statutory guidance - rather than primary legislation. This would be quicker to implement.”

In a speech to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations this month, Mr Pickles said he had four “reasonable expectations” for fair dealings between councils and the voluntary sector that could be given statutory force if councils acted inappropriately.

Mr Pickles warned he was minded to act in the next few weeks.

It was understood at the time that legislative action could take the form of amendments to the clauses in the Localism Bill.

Meanwhile, last week the DCLG seemingly broke one of Mr Pickles’ ‘reasonable expectations’ when it announced a 15% cut to the budget of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust only three weeks out from the new financial year. Mr Pickles had said councils should give charities three months notice of grant cuts.


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