Statement of Strategic Priorities for Telecommunications

The CLA has formally responded to the Government’s Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications. The CLA has reaffirmed its objective that there has to be universal digital connectivity both for fixed line and mobile telecommunications in order to eradicate the rural-urban digital divide.

Supporting the Government’s long term Full Fibre programme that will see every premise in the UK have access to fibre connections straight to the home and business, the CLA has stated that the change in government policy vindicates the CLA’s telecommunication policy which has been developed over a number of years. The Universal Service Obligation, that will provide each household with at least a 10Mbps connection by 2020, is a clear policy success.

However, the CLA recognises the  challenges ahead including the need to increase awareness of digital connectivity for small businesses as well as ensuring that mobile coverage increases significantly as both 4G and 5G are rolled out so that rural communities are no longer left behind.

GN15-19 Structure or Building - the Law

 

This guidance note provides advice about the circumstances in which structures may be considered to be buildings. Decisions on whether structures that are placed on land, that are ‘portable’. ‘moveable’ or ‘temporary’ must be approached with care. More often than not these types of structures are in fact considered to be buildings and may require planning permission. This guidance note provides the law and an explanation of relevant case law decisions.

GN09-19 Energy Peformance Certificates (EPCS) and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in Domestic Lettings (For England and Wales)

This guidance note is to update members on recent developments on energy efficiency in the private rented domestic sector for England and Wales.  The Government is planning for the next stage of improvements (to band C by 2030) and the tightening up of the enforcement process.

700 MHz Spectrum Licence Auction

The CLA has formally responded to Ofcom's consultation on the award of the 700MHz spectrum.  This award to mobile operators should lead to an increase in mobile coverage across rural areas.  The CLA is generally supportive of the revised proposals for the future 700MHz spectrum auction as being in the interests of those who live and work in rural areas.  The proposals to extend mobile coverage to 90% of the UK landmass through, for example, the building of at least 500 new masts is integral for rural communities to be able to benefit from modern day digital communications.  However, we have made it clear to ofcom that it has to ensure that the coverage obligations of those operators awarded new spectrum are monitored on an annual basis through Ofcom's Connected Nations report.  In addition, the CLA has stressed that Ofcom should formally propose the introduction of a national rural roaming network.

Taxation of Trusts

The CLA has responded to HMRC’s Taxation of Trusts Consultation. HMRC are undertaking a review of all aspects of Trust taxation to see if transparency, fairness and tax neutrality can be achieved. Although Inheritance Tax is often seen as a tax on death, it also has lifetime consequences too, and we have stressed that Trusts are not usually used by members for tax mitigation but as an important tool to protect
personal and business assets both on a day-to-day basis and for the next generation. We have also highlighted areas where we believe there could be a more straightforward regime – particularly for Trusts for young people. We have also argued against some potential changes that were suggested, for example, to remove the Principal Residence Relief for some Trust beneficiaries.

GN06-19 Reducing heating costs and improving the sustainability or 'energy efficiency' of heritage and other existing buildings in England and Wales

This is the only substantive guidance on this subject written from the point of view of owners of heritage and traditional buildings.  It covers ways of cutting heating costs, improving comfort, reducing your carbon footprint, and government incentives.  It also covers growing government compulsion, especially in the context of compulsory 'minimum energy performance standards' for let buildings from 2018, and the Building Regulations.  It points out many of the risks and pitfalls in all of these areas.

Ensuring tenants' access to gigabit-capable connections

The CLA's response to the Government's consultation on a tenant's right to a telecommunication service (broadband) focuses on the need to achieve a balance between the needs of operators and the rights of landlords.  In the event of an absentee landlord, operators should have the right of access but which is legally controlled.  As important, is the need to put in place an effective process of engagement between the operator and the landlord to ensure access to communication services as well as achieving an ongoing and transparent dialogue.

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