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Comment and opinion from the legal front line.

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New guidance on Social Value - does it grasp the nettle?

The Cabinet Office has published updated guidance on the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 which takes account of the lessons learnt from the Cabinet Office report "The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012: One Year On" dated late January this year.  The report summarises the impact the Social Value Act has had on public service work commissioners and providers during the first year of the Act's life.

Local authority data protection - room for improvement

The Information Commissioner's Office (the ICO) reveals that Local Authorities have more to do in protecting the public's personal data.

Pros and cons: the legalities of local authority lending

Helen Randall's latest article in Room 151 examines the increase in local authorities funding regeneration projects; how it is lawful and what they need to be aware of.

National Audit Office raises concerns over IT contract management

The National Audit Office has flagged some concerns to HM Revenue & Customs in relation to its management and replacement of its Aspire IT Contract.

Armageddon for social care commissioners?

Paul McDermott examines whether social care commissioners are being dealt a fair hand and how the new procurement governance will change social care procurement.

Contractors sign up to collaborative working with public bodies on PFI / PPP projects

HM Treasury for the last few years has been encouraging the public sector to focus on making cost savings from their existing PFI and PPP contracts.

Automatic suspensions - power to the public authority?

A recent case illustrates that public authorities can still be successful in lifting the automatic suspension of a contract award on the issue of a procurement challenge even if there are triable issues at stake.

Making the most of local authority property assets

Earlier this month, the Audit Commission published an interesting report on "managing council property assets" using data from the Value for Money profiles.

ECJ confirms Strict Interpretation of the In-house Exemption

Public authorities are increasingly using alternative business models to create more efficient ways of delivering services, especially in these times of austerity.  When developing these models, it is key to understand at an early stage when a public procurement procedure is required and when the 'in-house exemption' allows a contract to be awarded directly. 

Judgement in Pizzarotti case sows doubt for property deals

The debate as to when property deals in the public sector should be classified  as a "public works contracts" meaning they have to be put out to tender under EU rules and procured has arisen yet again as a result of Advocate General Nils Wahl's opinion in the case of Impresa Pizzarotti v Comune di Bari C-213/13 which was issued on 15 May.

Count down to clearer state aid rules

On 1st July the European Commission will take a major step on its journey to modernise state aid law with the adoption of a new General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER).

Does employee ownership work as a model for delivering public services?

Employee ownership was brought into the spotlight in the recent Budget with the Chancellor announcing a series of tax reliefs aimed at the promotion of employee ownership as means of running a company.  These include income tax exemptions for bonuses paid to employees of employee-owned companies and an increase in the maximum value of shares that employees can acquire under share incentive plans.  But what is employee ownership and how can it be used in the delivery of public services?

Green light for New Directive on Procurement of Public Contracts

Following delays to the implementation timetable in 2013, we are pleased to confirm that the new EU Procurement Directive will now come into force on 17 April 2014 after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union on 28 March 2014.

OGC Model ICT Contract replaced by New Model Services Contract

The new Model Services Contract, which replaces version 2.3 of the OGC Model ICT Contract, should be used with immediate effect as the basis of the draft contract for all procurements for IT delivery services and Business Process Outsourcing services with a value of £10 million or more.

Big Data - the opportunities and challenges

Much has been written about the value that can be derived from harnessing Big Data – data sets that are so large and complex that they are too difficult to manage through traditional management tools.