The Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 contains requirements as to how local authorities perform their social services functions. The functions identified as ‘social services functions’ are set out in Schedule 1 of the Act. Section 7 requires local authorities to have regard to any guidance issued by the Welsh Ministers under that section.
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.
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 inspect local authorities in the exercise of their social services functions. These powers are contained in the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. If a local authority is not performing its functions adequately the Welsh Ministers can intervene. If the issue relates to the local authority’s functions in relation to children, the powers to intervene are contained in the Children Act 2004. If the matter relates to its functions in relation to adults, the relevant powers are in the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970.