Cap on Care Costs delayed until 2020

Posted by on Friday, July 24, 2015

On 17 July 2015, Alistair Birt, Minister of State for Community and Social Care announced in a letter to the head of the Local Government Association that a cap on care costs would not be introduced until April 2020. The cap on care costs was originally scheduled for 1 April 2016 as part of the second phase of provisions under the Care Act 2014. The first phase followed the coming into force of Part I of the Care Act 2014 on 1 April 2015. 

The delay in implementation followed fears voiced by local authorities about the potential cost of the cap on top of an existing shortfall in the funding of adult social care. 

The minister indicated in his letter that the cap would have been too expensive to introduce in 2016 especially because the private insurance market had not developed products as expected to help individuals fund the initial £72,000 as they progressed towards the cap. 

The following reforms have also been delayed:

  • The introduction of the duty on local authorities under section 18(3) of the Care Act 2014 to meet the eligible needs of self-funders in care homes. This has also been delayed until April 2020 following concerns raised in responses to the Department of Health consultation in February 2015 about how this measure would work in practice. 
  • The introduction of an appeals system to deal with complaints about decisions made by local authorities on individuals' care and support. This will be considered as part of the government's general Spending Review.
Welsh reforms to adult social care, which were due to be introduced in April 2016, have also been postponed. 

Affordable Housing Contributions - A change in the rules... except in Shropshire?

Posted by on Friday, May 29, 2015

At the end of November 2014 the government published the response to a consultation relating to Planning Contributions and Section 106 Planning Obligations in England and Wales. The result of which was to change the requirements of what builders would have to contribute on smaller development sites. However, Shropshire Council have taken a different view.

Response to Consultation and Minister's Statement

The consultation took forward the Government’s 2013 Autumn Statement commitment to consult on a proposed new 10-unit threshold for section 106 affordable housing contributions within national policy to reduce planning costs to developers. The Government considered that such charges can place a disproportionate burden on small scale developers, including those wishing to build their own homes, and prevent the delivery of much needed, small scale housing sites.

In a Written Ministerial Statement on 28 November 2014, Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, announced that the Government was making a number of changes to the national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) with regard to Section 106 planning obligations. These included the introduction of a threshold beneath which affordable housing contributions should not be sought.

After careful consideration of the responses the Government announced changing national policy with regard to section 106 planning obligations. The conclusion reached was that "due to the disproportionate burden of developer contributions on small scale developers, for sites of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floor space of 1000 square metres, affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought. This will also apply to all residential annexes and extensions".

Shropshire Council Cabinet

However, Shropshire Council, who were one of the first Local Authorities in the Country to introduce Affordable Housing Contributions and the Community Infrastructure Levy following the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, have decided that the need for Affordable Housing Contributions will continue.

The Council's Cabinet met on 21st January 2015 to consider the consequences of the Minister's report and the proposed changes. The Shropshire Council website states that "Following the decision of the Council’s Cabinet to continue to give full weight to Policy CS11 of the adopted Core Strategy and the Type and Affordability of Housing SPD the Council will continue to seek provision of on-site affordable housing and/or affordable housing contributions for all residential developments of 10 dwellings or less within the Shropshire area and will continue to require developers to enter into s.106 agreements for this purpose."

The Current Position

This apparent disregard of the Minister's Statement and changes to the National Planning Policy have caused some discontent with local Planning Consultants, developers and self-builders. Shropshire has been left in limbo with some developers forging ahead and signing up to Affordable Housing Contributions on smaller developments in order to get planning permissions granted and move forward with their business. Meanwhile other developers and self-builders are waiting to see if the Council will change their view in line with the National Planning Policy.

At the time of writing there has not been an appeal against Shropshire Council's decision yet. Needless to say, the Planning community of Shropshire is waiting to see who the Planning Inspectorate will side with when they are asked to judge this issue.

13.04.2015

Update 

29th May 2015
Planning Appeal decision on 14th May directly challenged the Council's position and they have released the following statement in response:-
Following the Cabinet decision of 21 January 2015 to continue to apply the provisions of the Council’s Type and Affordability of Housing SPD the Council has now received an appeal decision which gives some consideration to the issue. The Council is currently taking advice on the decision and will need to put the agreement on hold. Due to the potential impact of the findings of the appeal the Council is considering its position before proceeding with any outstanding planning applications where there is a s.106 agreement for affordable housing which is affected by the threshold in the Ministerial Statement of 28th November 2014 and the National Planning Practice Guidance on planning obligations.

Residential Tenancy Deposits - Are you up to date?

Posted by on Friday, May 15, 2015

New rules regarding Tenancy Deposits came into force on 26 March 2015. The new provisions are summarised below.

No need to re-serve the Prescribed Information on renewals

The Prescribed Information now only needs to be served at the commencement of the first letting of a Property by a Landlord to a Tenant. If a fixed term tenancy comes to an end and becomes periodic, or is renewed, the Prescribed Information does not need to be served again. This removes an administrative burden from Landlords.

Deposits taken before 6 April 2007

There are two new provisions affecting deposits taken before 6 April 2007, the date when the Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation came into force.

Where a deposit was taken prior to 6 April 2007, and the tenancy became periodic after that date, the deposit must be protected in an authorised scheme. Landlords have until 23 June 2015 to attend to this, if they have not done so already. The deposit will then be treated as having always been protected. Financial penalties will apply if the deposit is not registered by that date and the Landlord will be unable to serve a valid Section 21 Notice to obtain possession of the Property.

Where a deposit was taken prior to 6 April 2007, and the tenancy became periodic before that date, the deposit does not have to be protected. However, if the Landlord wishes to serve a Section 21 Notice, the deposit must be protected or returned to the Tenant.

A greater role for Agents

If a Letting Agent has dealt with protection of the deposit on behalf of the Landlord, the Letting Agent’s own contact details can now be recorded in the Prescribed Information, rather than the Landlord’s.

Summary

We are now in a position where all tenancy deposits need to be registered. There is greater clarity as to when the Prescribed Information needs to be served. Landlords should review their portfolios to make sure that they have complied with the legislation. The consequences of a failure to comply are significant: a Landlord may incur financial penalties and will be unable to serve a valid Section 21 Notice.

Paying for Care and The Care Act 2014

Posted by on Friday, May 01, 2015

The Care Act 2014 introduced big changes in the how care and support and are paid for and funded by local authorities. The changes are coming into force in two parts the first came into force on 1st April 2015 and the second, and for many the most important part, is due to be introduced on 1st April 2016.

The below has been prepared in April 2015 looking forward to the changes expected in the next year. However, with the upcoming General Election in May the Care Act 2014 may be changed or repealed before the remaining parts come into force.

The Current Position: Funding Care

Under the current rules the first £14,250 of assets are disregarded in means testing to pay for care. If you have between £14,250 and £23,250 the Council will subsidise your costs.

The Government says that anyone with over £23,250 of assets would be required to pay all costs of their care. This value excludes the value of property if their partner or close relative lives there.

If the person has less that this limit of assets the Local Authority will undertake detailed financial assessment to work out the contribution which should be made toward Care costs. This is calculated based on how much money you should be left with.

Funded Care is paid for by Personal Budget which is monitored by the Local Authority based on your needs assessment and support planning.

Post April 2016: Funding Care

The lower limit of £14,250 will stay in place and assets under this amount will be disregarded for contributions towards care costs.

The upper limit will change to £27,000 for non-residential care and to £118,500 for residential care. Those will assets between the lower and upper limits will be entitled to some financial support towards their care fees on a sliding scale.


For more information about the proposed changes to Care Fee funding please download our FREE information sheet by clicking on the "Documents" tab at the top of the page.

New Trainee Solicitor Joins the Firm

Posted by on Thursday, January 01, 2015

PRESS RELEASE

A solicitors firm in Shrewsbury has expanded by taking on a new trainee.

Hooper Burrowes Legal has added Abigail Pritchard to its legal team. Born in England, Abbie moved to Canada with her family when she was 2 and she grew up moving around the United States of America. Although her family has settled in Texas, Abbie decided to come back England and she joins the practice after graduating in law in 2013 and passing the Legal Practice Course in 2014 from University of the West of England in Bristol.

Hooper Burrowes Legal managing director John Burrowes said: "We're very pleased to be able to offer this important training position to a candidate who shows such great potential as Abbie."

The 23 year old joined the practice just as Hooper Burrowes Legal merged with Blackbourn & Bond expanding the practie's wealth of commercial expertise.

Abbie said "I am excited to be training with Hooper Burrowes Legal. Working closely with very experienced lawyers will help train me to be the best of a new generation of legal professionals".

Solicitor Dispenses Advice on Wine

Posted by on Monday, November 17, 2014

Our team members have a wealth of legal knowledge and expertise, but also know a thing or two about a thing or two! Stuart Rose has recently been afforded an amazing opportunity to put his palate to the test.

The following article was publised on loveshrewsbury.com

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Instead of legal advice a Shropshire solicitor has been dispensing his specialist advice of a very different kind to readers of a national newspaper.

After 30 years of collecting and enjoying fine wines, commercial lawyer Stuart Rose was able to put his accumulated knowledge and nose for a good vintage to use when asked to review bottles of wine for The Times.

Mr Rose, a consultant solicitor with Hooper Burrowes Legal, based in Shrewsbury, was asked by the newspaper to scrutinise two bottles of wine from a supermarket’s new premium range. His verdict appeared in an article for the Weekened supplement of The Times earlier this month.

“The newspaper was looking for two professionals and an amateur. My daughter works for The Times and, knowing my enthusiasm for a good wine, put my name forward,” he said.

“They rang me and I thought it would be fun to do. Aldi sent me a couple of bottles from their Exquisite Range and I was interviewed by The Times to give my reaction. It was good fun and I enjoyed two pleasant bottles of wine.

“I’ve been collecting and researching wines for about 30 years and it was the first time I’ve been able to put the knowledge I’ve gained during that time to use. I’d love to do it again.

“I have always drunk red wine and I drink white as well, occasionally. I have always collected Claret, which is a red Bordeaux, and is sadly the most expensive of all wines!”

Mr Rose was asked to put a New Zealand Pinot Noir and a German Riesling, both priced at £6.99, through their paces.

His verdict: He enjoyed the Pinot Noir very much but “it might not stand up to roast beef! It’s a drinking wine so polish it off as soon as it’s opened”! The Clare Valley Riesling he described as “extraordinary”.

“It’s not fizzy but has a little prickle… If someone offered me the choice between this or champagne I’d rather have a glass of this,” he told The Times. 

“In this country we are sent the very best wines from around the world. We have a greater choice than anywhere else. You can get a damned good bottle from supermarkets these days,” added Mr Rose, who lives in Nesscliffe.

“The Aldi wines were £6.99 and the Riesling, in particular was superb. And £6.99 is a good price for Pinot Noir which is a Burgundy grape. For a decent bottle of Burgundy you’d pay £15.”

His top wine-buying tips? “It makes sense to spend more than £6 or £7 on a bottle because the tax and bottling costs are about £4. If you’re paying £6, you’re paying at least half as much again for a better quality wine.

“If you’re buying really good wine, consider the investment value. It’s good to get two cases of everything you buy – one to drink and one to sell. Six years ago I bought a case of Calon-Segur. I paid £43 a bottle and it’s now traded at £130 a bottle!”

Law firms come together in merger deal

Posted by on Wednesday, October 01, 2014

We have agreed an exciting merger deal that will enhance our commercial law offering.

Hooper Burrowes Legal in Shrewsbury will join with commercial law specialist Blackbourn & Bond from October 1 2014, creating a combined legal team of 11 people.

It will also bring the commercial department to five people, each with more than 25 years experience working across all aspects of business and industry law.

Blackbourn & Bond will take the name of the larger company in the deal, with its founding partner Nick Blackbourn becoming a new director with Hooper Burrowes Legal.

Joining him in the move is legal assistant Val Whittall and consultant solicitor Stuart Rose who has already begun some consultancy work with the larger Shrewsbury-based practice.

“I have the greatest respect for Nick and I am thrilled that we’re able to combine our strengths. He and Stuart bring vast experience and specialisms that enable us to provide a full service to our commercial and business clients and will take the practice to the next level” said managing director John Burrowes.

Mr Blackbourn worked for major blue chip names including Guinness and United International Pictures before launching his business in Shrewsbury in 2003.

“The culture in our two companies is very similar, making this merger a very good fit for both us and good news for our clients” he said. “Client service level is of paramount importance and we both believe that the traditional model, whereby the cost of legal services is driven by fixed targets for lawyers, is both outmoded and can often work against the client’s interests.

“By having a team of largely self-employed and experienced lawyers working under one banner, the flexibility this provides means the value to the client governs the way things are done. I am very excited about the future of the merged practice”.

John Burrowes set up the practice at Battlefield Enterprise Park in 2011. The following year he was joined by director Robin Hooper, the former Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council chief executive, who is widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts in planning, environmental and government law.

Hooper Burrowes Legal also deals with residential conveyancing, personal injury and medical negligence, wills, lasting powers of attorney, probate and estate administration.

New Property Conveyancer at Hooper Burrowes Legal

Posted by on Thursday, April 03, 2014

Residential property conveyancer Alison Haughton has strengthened the conveyancing team of Shrewsbury-based law firm Hooper Burrowes Legal.

Mrs Haughton has worked as a licensed conveyancer within the Shrewsbury area for over 17 years.

Her move to Hooper Burrowes Legal, based at Battlefield Enterprise Park, from one of Shropshire biggest law firms, reunites her with solicitor John Burrowes with whom she has worked as part of a legal team for much of her career.

“I’m delighted to be part of Hooper Burrowes Legal and working alongside John once again. It’s a busy office and I’m very much looking forward to expanding the conveyancing arm of the business,” she said.

Mrs Haughton, 45, began her law career with Burrowes and Co in 1988 before it merged with two other law practices to form PCB solicitors. She qualified as a licensed conveyancer in 1997.

“I didn’t want to train as a lawyer. All I ever wanted to do was conveyancing. It’s an incredibly complex process behind the scenes and can be very high pressure, but it’s an environment that I particularly enjoy,” she said.

“Conveyancing is all about communication, ensuring all parties are kept informed at every stage of the process. I like to see clients face-to-face and give a more personal service.  It’s hugely satisfying when clients have secured their dream home and they call to say how happy they are.”

Managing director Mr Burrowes said: “I know how hard working and committed Alison is. Moving house is a stressful experience for most people, but Alison always strives to give a professional service with an added personal touch to ease clients through that very complex process. She will make a valuable contribution to the expansion of our conveyancing team.”

The company is equipped to use the Land Registry’s electronic document registration service which offers a faster and more cost-effective means of submitting and dealing with applications. Clients are regularly kept up to date through email and text messaging.

New Commercial Law Expert at Hooper Burrowes Legal

Posted by on Thursday, April 03, 2014

Consultant solicitor Phil Adam joins the company following 30 years legal practice working in both the private and public sectors.

Phil is experienced in all aspects of property and commercial law, including development, planning, procurement and business contracts.

Managing director John Burrowes said: “Phil has wide-ranging expertise and a reputation for problem-solving in some very challenging situations. He’s a skilled negotiator and project manager and will be an enormous asset to our commercial law team.

“He is joining us at a time when demand for our commercial and property law services is increasing at a pace due to recovery in the economy and our heightened reputation in the marketplace.”

Phil’s client base is spread across the UK, ranging from property developers and local authorities to the leisure industry, including hotels, restaurants and sports clubs.

While he has chiefly worked in private practice, Phil spent six years as an in-house lawyer within local government, and he continues to perform external legal work for councils and health authorities.

“Getting the right results for clients involves paying close attention to detail and having a good understanding of their commercial objectives,” he said.

“Recent changes in capital allowances have made specialist expertise ever more important.”
  

Phil has operated his own consultancy, based near Milton Keynes, since 2008, following 30 years private practice and six years at South Oxfordshire District Council. He has a degree in business law. He operates between London, Shropshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.

“I’m very excited about this next phase of my career, working with a very strong team that will provide me with additional support to develop my practice,” he added.

Interest Rate Swaps aka Hedging Products

Posted by on Monday, July 01, 2013

Up to 2007 banks were selling products called interest rate swaps, or hedging products, which are complex financial products which aim to off-set or “hedge” the future costs of interest rate changes during the life of a loan. Many of these agreements set interest rates at a fixed high percentage to protect against rising interest rates. When interest rates fell in 2007-2008 people and businesses who had signed up to these agreements were tied in to continue paying crippling high rates.

These agreements which were meant to be a “protection” have led to financial difficulties for thousands of customers.

These controversial derivative claims were and are perfectly legal, provided that certain selling requirements were adhered to.

The Financial Services Authority have investigated such arrangements and concluded that the individual Banks should consider whether there was any mis-selling of the products.  In fact they believe that up to 90% of these products were mis-sold in some way, even down to failure to follow due process.

People and companies who entered into these financial instruments will have paid many tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in interest charges more than what they perhaps should have. Many have also been told to get out of them they would have to pay substantial penalty payments.

Provided that certain conditions applied at the time that the individual arrangement was put in place it is possible that people and companies may get compensation as well as their money back.  We have been working with several clients in this position and have made claims on their behalf.

If you have entered into a hedging or interest rate product since December 2001 you may be able to make a claim.  We would be pleased to discuss your circumstances with you and see whether we can help to make the claim.

Call Robin Hooper now on 01743 292 444 or send him an e-mail on RobinH@HBLegal.co.uk