Twenty Ninth Report Contents

Instruments of interest

Draft Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Representations and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2022

Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Approved Devices, Charging Guidelines and General Provisions) (England) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/71)

39.These Regulations provide for the civil enforcement of:

40.To free up police officers’ time, these Regulations extend the range of offences that can be dealt with by civil enforcement officers acting on behalf of local authorities, or in some cases traffic cameras. From 31 May 2022, as well as parking offences, civil enforcement officers will be able to deal with moving traffic offences, such as ignoring no entry signs, performing banned turns, waiting on box junctions and driving in mandatory cycle lanes. The legislation also adds penalties for buses driving in prohibited areas, and sets out a uniform regime for all these offences of differential penalty charges, with certain discount and surcharge periods. The draft affirmative instrument similarly makes the appeal system consistent, strengthening the appeal rights for moving traffic offences, so motorists may now appeal penalties issued for any of these offences on the grounds of procedural impropriety or “compelling reasons”.

Draft Cumbria (Structural Changes) Order 2022

Draft North Yorkshire (Structural Changes) Order 2022

Draft Somerset (Structural Changes) Order 2022

41.These three sets of draft Orders give effect, from 1 April 2023, to the creation of single tiers of local government for Cumbria, where there will be two new unitary councils, called Cumberland, and Westmorland and Furness, and North Yorkshire and Somerset, which will become single principal authorities for the whole of North Yorkshire and Somerset respectively. The draft Orders propose arrangements for preparing the transition to the new councils, including with regard to elections. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) says that for Cumbria, further secondary legislation will be brought forward once a decision has been made on the future arrangements for the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service which, without further legislation, would have to be divided between the two new unitary authorities. The Government intend to maintain a fire service on a county-wide basis, subject to local consultation on the available options.

42.The Explanatory Memoranda (EMs) set out the feedback received during consultation on the different unitarisation proposals. We note that while unitarisation should, according to the Government, be “locally led” and “command a good deal of local support”, the EMs show that not all chosen proposals received majority support from local residents during consultation. In Cumbria, for example, the only proposal (“The Bay”) to receive support from a majority of local respondents was not taken forward. Asked about this consultation feedback, DLUHC explained that:

“The support criterion, that a proposal should have a good deal of support, is not a criterion about which proposal has the majority support of a particular group of stakeholders. First, it is about the views from all stakeholders–residents, local businesses, the voluntary sector, other public service providers. Second, it is quite possible, as in the case of Cumbria, that more than one proposal can have good deal of support. As explained in paragraph 7.5 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Cumbria Order, the Secretary of State considered that the proposal for an East-West unitary met all three assessment criteria; The Bay proposal [ … ] did not meet the criteria on ‘improving local government and service delivery’ and ‘being a credible geography’”.

43.Similarly, the Department said that in relation to Somerset “the Secretary of State considered that the proposal for a single unitary met all three criteria and the proposal for two unitaries met the criterion for a good deal of support, but it did not meet the criteria on ‘improving local government’ and ‘being a credible geography’”.

44.We note the three criteria. Given the Government’s commitment to unitarisation being “locally-led”, however, it is not clear whether or how the three criteria are prioritised. The House may wish to ask the Minister to explain how the criteria are applied and, in particular, on what basis unitarisation is permitted to go ahead even if public consultation suggests that a proposal may not enjoy genuine widespread support from local residents.

Draft Early Legal Advice Pilot Scheme Order 2022

45.The post-implementation review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 found that, while the changes had succeeded in reducing legal aid spend generally, clients with housing issues might have resolved their issues prior to formal proceedings if they had received legal advice at an earlier stage. This Order is to enable a pilot scheme to test this theory further and to inform future policy. The outcome will be published in due course.

46.The proposal is at a very early stage, following a feasibility study, the Ministry of Justice intends to run the pilot scheme from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2024 involving 1,600 individuals living or habitually resident in the area of Manchester City Council or of Middlesbrough Council. Half the individuals selected to take part in the pilot scheme will receive up to three hours early advice on housing, debt, and welfare benefits issues, the other half will form a control group. (The advice does not include representation.) The Order also establishes a fee for legal advisers, which is comparable to existing fees but includes an uplift to account for the additional reporting that providers will be asked to undertake. Further details on the proposed structure of the pilot are published in Appendix 2.

Draft Flood Reinsurance (Amendment) Regulations 2022

47.These draft Regulations propose changes to the Flood Reinsurance Scheme (“the FR Scheme”) to improve its efficiency and effectiveness and to promote the uptake of property flood resilience measures in households. The current FR Scheme was launched in 2016 to provide reinsurance to insurers for risks to household properties arising from a flood and to promote the availability and affordability of flood insurance for UK households. The FR Scheme is time-limited until 2039. Its liability limit was set in April 2016 at £2.1 billion (with increases in line with the Consumer Price Index) for an initial period of five years; future liability limits will be set every three years.

48.Under the new arrangements, claims can be paid so that they include an amount of resilient repair up to a value of £10,000 over and above the cost of like-for-like reinstatement of actual flood damage. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), this is to enable homeowners to return to their homes more quickly following a flood and reduce the cost of future claims. The draft Regulations also propose to reduce the levy from £180 million to £135 million. The levy is the FR Scheme’s primary income and is raised from UK household insurers based on their market share. Asked why it was possible to reduce the levy at this stage, Defra explained that:

“Flood Re [the FR Scheme] have met their initial liquidity and capital requirements and have a high solvency ratio, meaning that the Scheme is financially secure. Government and Flood Re consider it important that the levy setting cycle is now made more flexible so that it can better reflect the true income needs of the Scheme, as well as ensuring it can adapt more quickly to changing risk levels. This will also allow Flood Re to obtain better value for money in purchasing reinsurance, to be more dynamic to their needs and potentially changing risk profile and ensure the total levy (a form of tax) is not higher than it needs to be. [ … ] We have consulted the Government Actuary Department (GAD) who agree that £135m is suitable and well within the risk appetite of Flood Re. [ … ] Careful consideration has been given to assure ourselves that Flood Re has enough funds to cover any losses as a result of a major flood event. [ … ] The new levy amount will result in lower levy payment for relevant insurers.”

Draft Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) (Amendment) Regulations 2022

49.From 21 May 2022, new EU Regulations15 require the licensing of operators who carry goods for hire or reward using a Light Goods Vehicle (a goods vehicle exceeding 2.5 tonnes in mass when laden). Currently such licensing only applies to Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs - which exceed 3.5 tonnes in mass when laden). The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement obliges the UK to implement these requirements for UK vehicles taking goods to the EU. These Regulations therefore set out the revised licensing arrangements which will apply to around 4,200 Light Goods Vehicle operators in the UK. For convenience and with the consent of the relevant Minister, these Regulations also implement the legislation in Northern Ireland.

50.Operators may apply to have one or more Light Goods Vehicles added to a pre-existing HGVs licence, but a separate licence will be required for those who only operate Light Goods Vehicles (at an initial cost of £658 for five years). All licensed operators must appoint at least one Transport Manager to organise work scheduling, driver rest and vehicle maintenance. A three-year transitional exemption is allowed for Transport Managers who do not already hold a certificate of professional competence, so that they can keep working while studying to qualify. This transitional exemption will apply to anyone who can demonstrate that they have been managing fleets of Light Goods Vehicles for at least 10 years prior to 20 August 2020. The EU Regulations also limit an international Transport Manager to working for no more than four operators and with no more than 50 specified vehicles (although this figure does not include any vehicles that they manage which operate solely within the UK).

Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/59)

51.This instrument allows the fitment and use of elongated cabs and aerodynamic devices on heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) on the roads in Great Britain. Improved aerodynamic performance can reduce HGVs’ CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. In addition, the elongated cabs are designed to improve driver visibility, making their use safer for other road users. EU legislation to permit this change was passed in 201516 but only came into effect from 6 December 2019. The Department for Transport (DfT) says that due to the pressure on parliamentary time, it was not possible to implement the change before Brexit. DfT will publish good practice guidance on the use of rear aerodynamic devices in urban areas on the website on 14 February 2022 which will recommend that such devices are folded away in built up areas. Although the overall length of HGVs may be increased by extending the cab, the loading length may not be altered, and these vehicles will still need to meet the turning circle rules.

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC1019)

52.This instrument amends the Immigration Rules, to add care workers to the Shortage Occupation List, and make the role eligible for the Skilled Worker route. The Skilled Worker route is for applicants with a specific job offer from an approved sponsoring employer, and the salary offered must be at least £20,480 per year or £10.10 per hour whichever is the higher. The changes do not, however, include home carers employed by private individuals, who will be seeking to recruit carers from the same labour market, and may be disadvantaged by the change.

53.These changes also disapply the usual requirement that a role must be skilled to at least Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) level 3 (approximately A level). Applicants do not need to hold a formal qualification; it is the skill level of the job they will be doing which determines whether the threshold is met. The Home Office states that these changes are aimed at helping to alleviate current pressures on the health and social care system as a result of COVID-19; there is no quota set for the number of these applicants to be admitted. The Home Office explains that no Impact Assessment (IA) has been provided because the legislation responds to an interim recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee, which will not publish its final recommendations until the end of April 2022. We are concerned that these measures may be premature because without an IA the precise effects on the labour market will not have been fully identified.

15 Regulation (EU) 2020/1055.

16 Directive (EU) 2015/719(4).

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