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Health and Social Care Act 2008

Reviews and investigations

Section 50: Failings by English local authorities

209.Section 50 sets out steps which the Commission must or may take when, following a review under section 46 or 49, or a review or investigation under section 48, it judges that there are failings in an English local authority’s discharge of its adult social services functions.

210.If the failings are not substantial, the Commission may give a notice to the local authority, setting out details of the failure, the action to be taken to rectify it and the time by which the Commission considers that this should be done. The Commission must inform the Secretary of State of the giving of the notice.

211.If the Commission considers that a local authority is significantly failing to discharge any of its adult social services functions to an acceptable standard it is obliged to inform the Secretary of State and recommend any special measures that it considers that the Secretary of State should take. Following a recommendation by the Commission of special measures, the Commission must, if asked to do so by the Secretary of State, undertake a further review of the local authority concerned and prepare a further report, covering any particular issues the Secretary of State might specify.

212.Measures which may be recommended by the Commission include the use by the Secretary of State of his powers of intervention (as set out in the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 (section 7D), the Children Act 1989 (sections 81 and 84), the Local Government Act 1999 (section 15), and the Health and Social Care Act 2001 (section 46)). Under special measures the Secretary of State may issue the failing local authority with directions. In the most serious cases a direction may require that a specific function shall be exercised by the Secretary of State or a nominee. The report by the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service in England (‘the Audit Commission’) “A Force for Change” shows how special measures can improve performance.

213.The Commission does not have equivalent powers in relation to NHS bodies, as their performance is managed by Strategic Health Authorities on behalf of the Secretary of State.

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