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Adoption and Children Act 2002

Section 117: Inquiries by local authorities into representations

290.Section 117 amends sections 24D and 26 of the Children Act 1989 by making further provision for inquiries carried out by local authorities into representations about services provided under that Act.  It implements some of the changes being taken forward as a result of the recent “Listening to People” consultation exercise on improving social services complaints procedures which require primary legislation.  This section enables regulations to be made to impose time limits for the making of representations, to provide for an informal resolution stage and to extend the complaints procedure to services provided under Parts 4 and 5 of the Children Act 1989.

291.Subsection (1) inserts a new 24D(1A) that enables the Secretary of State to make regulations imposing time limits on the making of representations under section 24D(1) of the Children Act 1989.  Section 24D was inserted into the Children Act 1989 by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

292.Subsections (2) to (7) amend section 26 of the Children Act 1989, which requires local authorities to establish a procedure for considering any representations about services provided by them under Part 3 of that Act. Under the amendment made by subsection (6), the Secretary of State may make regulations imposing time limits on the making of representations under that section.

293.Subsection (3) amends section 26(3) of the Children Act 1989 to provide that every local authority must establish a procedure for considering representations in respect of “qualifying functions”.  Qualifying functions are referred to in subsection (4).  They include functions under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989, which are covered by section 26(3) at present, functions under Parts 4 or 5 of that Act as specified in regulations and functions under this Act as specified in regulations. The extension of the procedure to specified functions under Parts 4 and 5 of the Children Act 1989 and to specified functions under this Act will ensure that representations about the exercise of a local authority’s functions in relation to children are brought within one child-centred procedure.  The regulations will be used to extend the procedure to appropriate local authority functions under Parts 4 and 5 of the Children Act 1989, without impinging on any matter which is subject to the jurisdiction of the courts.

294.New section 26(3B)(b) of the Children Act 1989, as inserted by subsection (4), provides that the persons listed at section 3(1) of this Act and other persons to whom the arrangements for the provision of adoption support services extend will be able to make a complaint under section 27 in respect of a function specified in the regulations.

295.Subsection (5) amends section 26(4) to provide that the requirement to involve an independent person in the complaints procedure is subject to the provisions in the new section 26(5A) that is inserted by subsection (7). New section 26(5A) enables regulations to be made providing that the requirement for an independent person does not apply in relation to the procedure for any informal resolution stage established in regulations.  An informal resolution stage is currently required by the complaints procedure established in directions made under section 7B of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970.

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