Helping you understand Welsh law

How local authorities fulfil their social services functions

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (the 2014 Act) contains requirements as to how local authorities perform their social services functions. The functions identified as ‘social services functions’ are set out in Schedule 2 of the 2014 Act. Subsection (1) of section 145 permits the Welsh Ministers to issue and revise codes on the exercise of social services function. Subsection (3) of section 145 requires local authorities, when exercising social services functions, to act in accordance with any relevant requirements contained in a code and to have regard to any relevant guidelines contained in it.

A local authority may depart from a code in exercising its social services functions, but only in so far as the authority considers there is a good reason for it not to comply with the relevant requirements, it decides on an alternative policy for the exercise of its functions, and it  issues a policy statement.

Codes and guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers since devolution and guidance issued by the Secretary of State prior to devolution plays a significant role in determining how local authorities perform their social services functions both in relation to adults and children.

A list of guidance issued under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 can be found here.

A list of codes issued under section 145 of the 2014 Act can be found here.

Some of the guidance can be accessed online; some is available by sending a request to the Welsh Government (details of how to make a request are contained in the list).

The Welsh Ministers have power to review the way in which local authorities exercise their social services functions. These powers are contained in section 149B of the 2014 Act. If a local authority is not performing its functions adequately the Welsh Ministers can, under section 152 of the 2014 Act, intervene.

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