Get the information you need to practice law Quickly, Easily and No Subscription Required.
What is KnowHow?
Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Powers and duties - overview
Local authorities work within the powers laid down under various Acts of Parliament. In discharging their functions local authorities have specific statutory powers, a general well-being power and the power to make byelaws.
Some functions are mandatory, others discretionary. The best value performance plan identifies the services a local authority will provide and how their performance is judged, based on certain indicators.
General well-being power
The well-being power was introduced in the Local Government Act 2000 to increase local authorities' capability to act on behalf of their areas. It allows principal local authorities in England and Wales to do anything they consider likely to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of their areas unless explicitly prohibited elsewhere in legislation. It cannot be used to raise taxes.
Intended to be used as a ‘power of first resort’, the power can be used instead of and as well as existing powers and offers a broad definition, so is useful for new innovative projects.
Discharge of functions
A local authority may make arrangements for the discharge of functions:
by a committee
by a sub-committee or officer
any other local authority (an agency arrangement)
jointly between itself and one or more other local authorities
Local authorities must have licensing, scrutiny and standards committees.
Under the well-being power a local authority may discharge functions differently if it is likely to promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of its area.
Byelaws are local laws that have the force of law within the areas to which they apply. Local authorities have a general power to make byelaws for the good rule and government of the whole or any part of their areas, and for the prevention and suppression of nuisances.
Byelaws are not suitable for cases where there are already express powers in primary legislation for dealing with an issue.
Authorities are expected to consult any interested parties and consider their views before making and advertising byelaws.
Breach of a byelaw is a criminal offence. A byelaw can be challenged in the courts.
Charging and trading
The Local Government Act 2003, s 93 creates a power to charge for a service, excepting statutory services that councils are obliged to provide. The intention is that charging powers are used for civic benefit purposes. The charging power can only be used to recover the costs of providing a service, not to make a profit. However, the costs recovered can include associated costs.
Trading requires exercise of the power through a company and is only open to well-performing councils. The intention of the power is to increase choice in delivery of services.
Strategic service partnerships
Strategic service partnerships (SSPs)are long-term partnering relationships between an authority and a private sector service provider for the provision and improvement of the delivery of strategic services. They are termed strategic because their purpose is to assist in an authority's overall strategic aims.
The range of services are broad and often focus on the introduction of new ICT to transform, harmonise and streamline services.
There are a number of issues to consider in setting up SSPs:
scope of service partnership (important as this forms basis of OJEU procurement)
delivery business model
governance and performance criteria
transference of assets, employees and intellectual property
termination and compensation arrangements
To find out more about PSL Contact us or call 0207 400 2984