Local authorities have a key role in addressing social care needs for both adults and children. This role is set out in a number of statutes. The principal areas in which local authorities have functions in relation to social care are as follows:
- General and strategic duties
- Care and support for adults and children
- Mental health care for adults and children
- Responsibilities in respect of children
- Local Authority adoption service
- Partnership arrangements
How local authorities fulfil their social care 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 that Act.
Section 145(1) permits the Welsh Ministers to issue and revise codes on the exercise of social services functions.
Section 145(3) 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 that 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, play 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 is available.
You can locate a list of codes issued under section 145 of the 2014 Act.
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 powers, in section 149B of the 2014 Act, to review the way in which local authorities exercise their social services functions. If a local authority is not performing its functions adequately the Welsh Ministers can, under section 152 of the 2014 Act, intervene.