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Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021

Section 24 - Local authority’s general power of competence

162.Section 24 provides a general power of competence to qualifying local authorities in Wales. The term “general power” is used throughout these notes to refer to the general power of competence.

163.The general power gives all principal councils and certain community councils (see Chapter 2), referred to in this Part as “qualifying local authorities”, the same powers to act that an individual generally has, thus enabling them to do things that are unlike anything they, or any other public body, have done before. “Individual” is defined in subsection (5) so as to avoid any doubt that it means an individual with full powers and does not include individuals with reduced capacity; for example, a child.

164.Subsections (2) and (3) further define the extent of the power. It is not necessary for activities undertaken using the general power to benefit the qualifying local authority itself, its area or residents; however, there is no restriction on the activities doing so. In using the general power a qualifying local authority may undertake activities anywhere, including both in and outside of Wales.

165.The general power can be used by qualifying local authorities to, for example, act in their own financial interests with subsection (2)(b) stating that the general power may be used to do things for a commercial purpose, or for a charge.

166.The exercise of the general power is subject to the restrictions provided for in sections 25 (general boundaries of the power), 26 (limits on charging) and 27 (limits on doing things for a commercial purpose), and any regulations made by the Welsh Ministers under section 28(3) or (4).

167.Amendments to the 2000 Act, provided for in Schedule 3 to the Act, mean that the well-being power provided in section 2 of that Act will no longer apply to Welsh local authorities once the general power is commenced.

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