A Government consultation has been launched on proposals that would establish a court where both tenants and landlords could seek justice.

The Housing Court would be a single path of redress.

The Government noted that despite most landlords being responsible owners, a number of tenants live in fear of being evicted at short notice or live in poor accommodation. Also despite most tenants being responsible, some landlords struggle to evict tenants, even when the correct procedures are followed.

As housing disputes are held in a number of different legal settings, the process can act as a deterrent for the most vulnerable seeking justice.

Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire said: "the proposals announced today will help ensure both tenants and landlords can access justice when they need it - creating a fair housing market that works for everyone."

Up for consideration is a proposal to reduce the need for multiple hearings in different courts, as well as issuing a new guidance to help tenants and landlords navigate their way through the legal system. This could provide landlords to offer longer, securer tenancies and make it easier for responsible landlords to regain possession of their property should they need to do so.

This is part of the £1 billion Reform Programme to build a justice system that is fair, straightforward and accessible to all. It aims to build on Government action to rebalance the relationship between tenant and landlord.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said that the Housing Court will "root out criminal landlords more quickly, give tenants better ability to enforce rights granted by new legislation on property fitness, and give greater confidence to landlords to offer longer tenancies."

For more information on this subject, see:

Planners say 'neigh' to proposal
Published: 27 Nov 2018

Since the 1830s, local people in Minehead, Somerset, have celebrated May Day by parading a traditional Hobby Horse around town. The Hobby Horse (known as 'Sailor's Horse') consists of a frame, wrapped in cloth, and decorated with bright colours.

The desire to preserve this tradition led to the submission of a planning application for two-storey Sailor's Horse Music facility which aimed to contain a permanent exhibition space for the hobby horse, a music workshop and museum, as well as a two-bedroom flat for an on-site caretaker. However, the proposed development was to be located in the Quay Street Conservation Area, and it was felt that the building would disrupt the built form of the street, and was rejected.

On appeal, the planning inspector aimed to determine whether or not the proposed development would enhance the character of the conservation area. The proposed development would be behind two listed buildings; the issue being the current preserved street is only one building deep and the development would disrupt that.

The inspector took into consideration proposed alterations to the scheme, but had to come to the reasoned conclusion that the development, if allowed, would neither enhance or preserve the setting.

Finally, the inspector, in line with the National Planning Policy Framework, had to consider whether the public benefit of the proposal would outweigh the potential harm. Although it was acknowledged that the development would allow the preservation of a tradition, the public benefit did not outweigh the potential harm that the building would cause to the conservation area.

As a result, the appeal was dismissed.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated it's information about how the UK's chemicals regulatory process will work once the UK withdraws from the EU. The updated information comes in light of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement published on 15 November 2018.

In summary, the HSE has stated an implementation period will begin on 30 March 2019 and end on 31 December 2020.

During that period:

  • registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications in place before March 2019 will remain valid;
  • Regulation (EC) 1907/2006, on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), will apply to the UK;
  • companies will still have to register new chemicals with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA);
  • the UK will recognise all new registrations, approvals, authorisations and classifications granted in the EU;
  • the HSE will continue to process product applications regarding biocidal products.

However, this is all dependent on whether Parliament votes in favour of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and it is ratified. If that does not happen, the UK faces a no-deal Brexit. In which case, the Government has been busy preparing a series of Technical Notes, providing information as to what businesses and the public would need to do.

Importantly, one of the Technical Notes is about regulating chemicals.

For more information, see the:

19 November 2018 marked 'World Toilet Day', with social media awash with stories of people around the world with little or no access to basic welfare provisions, such as a toilet or washing facilities. However, according to Unite, the problem is also a concern on our own doorstep.

Unite claims that thousands of UK workers do not have access to decent toilets, using examples such as workers in a bank who were encouraged to use a bucket, and bus drivers not given suitable toilet breaks.

In the UK, both the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations SI 1992/3004 (in England, Scotland and Wales) and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 1993/37 (in Northern Ireland) require workplaces to have sufficient and suitable "sanitary conveniences".

The Regulations both state that the facilities:

  • must be adequately ventilated and lit;
  • are kept clean and in an orderly condition; and
  • are separated for men and women, unless each unit is a separate room and is lockable from the inside.

There should also be enough toilets and washbasins for those expected to use them.

However, the latest information from Unite suggests that several places of work are breaching this requirement.

Unite's assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said, "Employers have got absolutely no excuse for ensuring toilet dignity and if they fail to do so they should be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)."

For more information, see the:

CRC revoked
Published: 15 Nov 2018

The long-awaited revocation of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order SI 2013/1119 finally happened on 1 October 2018. However, there are some savings attached to the revocation which means it will remain in force, for limited purposes, for the time being.

We've written a short guide below to explain what is going on.

What is CRC?

The CRC Scheme began in 2010 and is a mandatory UK-wide trading and reporting scheme designed to improve energy efficiency and to lower emissions across the public and private sector.

It is divided into phases, with the very first phase running between April 2010 and March 2014. The current phase, or "initial phase", began on 1 April 2014 and is set to end on 31 March 2019.

If an organisation in the UK meets the qualification criteria for a particular phase, it is required (amongst other things) to:

  • record and report its energy use for a compliance year;
  • purchase and surrender allowances to cover its emissions;
  • keep records.

The existing legislation, had it not been revoked, would have allowed the CRC Scheme to run through five more phases from April 2019, continuing up until 2043.

What is happening with CRC?

The government has decided to end the CRC scheme early. As a result, the current phase, which ends on 31 March 2019, will be the last phase of the CRC Scheme.

However, there are some savings in force which will continue to apply to CRC, but we'll explain these a bit further down.

Why is CRC ending early?

Since it was introduced in 2010, those involved in the CRC Scheme have found it complex and burdensome. Even though the government took steps in 2013 to simplify the Scheme, it has remained unpopular.

Then, during the 2015 Summer Budget, the government announced that it would be reviewing the business energy efficiency tax landscape, which included the CRC Scheme. Following this announcement, a consultation was launched in September 2015 with the aim of gathering views on the energy efficiency tax landscape.

Clearly, the support for the CRC Scheme remained low, and the government stated, following the consultation, that it would end the CRC Scheme at the end of the initial phase in 2019.

This decision is part of a series of reforms aimed to improve the energy efficiency tax landscape. Other reforms include:

  • increasing the rates of the Climate Change Levy in order to recover the loss of revenue from the early closure of the CRC Scheme;
  • the introduction of a streamlined energy and carbon reporting framework for business by April 2019.

When is CRC revoked, and what are the savings?

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order SI 2013/1119 was officially revoked on 1 October 2018, subject to savings. This means there are some provisions that will continue in force in order to allow the CRC Scheme to close efficiently and smoothly.

In essence, this is what the savings mean:

  • the CRC Scheme will end once the current phase is over, on 31 March 2019. Those who qualified for the current phase will still have to comply with their obligations though. This means they must report their emissions to the Administrator by the last working day of July 2019 and must also purchase and surrender allowances by the last working day of October 2019;
  • there were some amendments to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order SI 2013/1119 and the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order SI 2010/768 on 1 October 2018. Those amendments:
    • require the Administrator to maintain the Registry (which is where participants submit annual reports and sort out allowances) until the end of March 2022,
    • state that the accounts that exist for the purpose of the CRC Scheme will be closed on 1 April 2022,
    • confirm that after March 2022, trading of allowances will stop,
    • continue the powers of the Administrator to monitor and enforce compliance by participants who qualified for the current phase or the previous phase,
    • state that from March 2022, the Administrator will no longer be able to impose penalties requiring the purchase and surrender of additional allowances,
    • require participants who qualified for the current phase (2014-2019) to inform the Administrator of a change of address until 1 April 2025,
    • require the Administrator to maintain a list of participants for the current phase and the last phase up until the end of March 2025,
    • require participants who qualified for the current phase (2014-2019) to maintain their records up until the end of March 2025. Those who qualified for the previous phase (2010-2014) are required to maintain their records until the end of March 2021.

So, although the CRC Scheme will have ended, there are still some obligations to meet for different people up until 2025.

The main point is that no organisation will have to register for a new phase of the CRC Scheme.

For more information, see the:

  • CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (Revocation and Savings) Order SI 2018/841.

From April 2019 all large UK companies will be required to report their carbon emissions and energy use as part of their annual reports under the new Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework.

The new framework aims to reduce administrative burden, streamline carbon and energy reporting, increase awareness of energy efficiency and reduce bills and carbon. Part of this framework includes the scrapping of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order SI 2013/1119 which will expire at the end of its existing phase on 31 March 2019. It is hoped that the SERC framework will enable businesses and industry to improve energy efficiency at least 20% by 2030.

The Companies (Directors’ Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) Regulations SI 2018/1155 which come into force on 1 April 2019 for mandatory carbon reporting apply to all unquoted organisations that employ at least 250 people or have an annual turnover greater than £36 million and balance sheet above £18 million. Those companies quoted on the stock exchange have been required to report on their carbon performance since 2013.

Currently such large businesses are already required to manage their energy use under the Energy Savings and Opportunity Scheme Regulations SI 2014/1643 however there is no current requirement for public disclosure of ESOS reports.

There are exemptions to this new reporting requirement if it would not be practical to obtain some or all of the SECR information or if directors believe disclosing information would be seriously prejudicial to the interests of the company, but this would only apply in exceptional circumstances.

Organisations that use low levels of energy will not be required to disclose if they can demonstrate that they used 40,000kWh or less over the 12 month period.

Other requirements set out in the framework are:

  • electronic reporting will be voluntary for SECR information from 2019, although the Government intends to keep mandatory electronic reporting as an option for the longer term;
  • an Energy Performance Indicator must be included within the report. The company will decide their relevant intensity metric;
  • reporting must include information on energy efficiency action taken in the financial year.

The Government argues that mandatory reporting will drive behaviour change in business, by raising awareness internally of energy efficiency. Boosting transparency for investors will increase their ability to hold firms to account. They also claim that the new SECR framework and the abolishment of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme Order SI 2013/1119 and increasing climate levy rates would provide a net societal benefit of up to £1.5 billion.

As well as announcing the new SECR framework the Government has launched a Call for evidence: Helping businesses to improve the way they use energy on additional policies or regulations that may be needed to meet its target of improving business energy efficiency by 20% by 2030.

For more information, see:

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