Twelfth Report Contents

Instruments relating to Covid 19

Public Services

Land Registration (Amendment) Rules 2020 (SI 2020/425)

1.This instrument gives HM Land Registry flexibility to extend the 30-day priority period that is provided by an official search.1 The instrument enables the Chief Land Registrar to certify a day as an “interrupted working day” if there is a temporary disruption to HM Land Registry’s services as a result of the pandemic. HM Land Registry explains that the instrument extends the expiry date of the priority period given by an official search, as well as the date for responses to notices and requisitions, by the number of working days equal to the number of interrupted working days falling within the priority period or within the time given for responding to notices and requisitions. According to HM Land Registry, this is to ensure that official searches in England and Wales would not be negatively affected if HM Land Registry ceases to operate temporarily as a result of the pandemic. HM Land Registry told the Committee that the power to certify interrupted working days that is introduced by this instrument is not time-limited and will remain in place for possible use in any further crisis.

Local Government (Coronavirus) (Structural Changes) (Consequential Amendments) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/426)

2.The Coronavirus Act 2020 postponed the local government elections from 7 May 2020 to 6 May 2021. The elections would have elected members for the first time to the newly established unitary council in Buckinghamshire and to new shadow authorities in Northamptonshire. In absence of the May 2020 elections, this instrument makes provision for the membership and governance arrangements for Buckinghamshire Council and the Northamptonshire shadow authorities until 10 May 2021. Amongst other provisions, the instrument ensures that the current members of Buckinghamshire Council who have been serving as members of the shadow authority will be the members of the new Buckinghamshire Council, which took on full local government functions and powers on 1 April 2020, until four days after the local elections in 2021. Following the establishment of two new councils — North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire — that will operate in shadow form from 11 May 2020, the instrument also provides that the membership of the two new councils will be the current county and district councillors for the respective areas of the new councils until four days after the May 2021 elections.

Changes to benefits

Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/427)

3.This instrument amends the Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982 so that a person with underlying health problems, who cannot work because they have been notified to follow rigorous shielding measures, can be paid sick pay at the standard rate of £95.85 a week. This applies to Great Britain and is intended as a safety net in cases where the person’s employer chooses not to furlough them under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and cannot offer other options, such as work from home or special leave.

1 A buyer of land will usually apply for an official search with priority, a so-called official search, before exchanging contract, in order to prevent registration of any adverse interest in relation to the land for 30 working days, the so-called priority period.

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