Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Second Report


Part III: Local Authority Services

CLAUSE 41

68.  Clause 41(3) provides that regulations may be made that allow the Commission to inspect local authority adoption and fostering services on such occasions or at such intervals as may be described. The regulations will be able not only to prescribe the normal inspection intervals but also to provide for inspections without notice if the Commission has concerns about the establishment or agency.

CLAUSE 44

69.  Clause 44 largely reflects the powers in clause 20(1) and (2) in order to establish a broadly similar regulatory framework between fostering agencies under Part II and local authority fostering services under Part III. These powers do not extend to adoption functions because they will continue to be regulated under the provisions of the Adoption Act, and appropriate amendments are made to section 9 of the that Act for that purpose (see paragraph 2 (6) of Schedule 3).

70.  Clause 44(a) provides for regulations to be made that define the criteria used in determining the fitness or otherwise of people employed by local authorities in connection with any fostering functions. The power is sought to enable detailed requirements to be set out to ensure that only the most suitable people are permitted to work with children. An example would be that people have appropriate qualifications and experience in working with children. This level of detail is best set out in regulations rather than primary legislation.

71.  Clause 44(b) provides for regulations to be made as to the fitness of premises used by local authorities in carrying out its fostering functions. An example might be the need for proper security of files containing confidential information about children. This level of detail is best set out in regulations rather than primary legislation.

72.  Clause 44(c) provides for regulations to be made that set out how local authorities should manage and control the operation of their fostering functions. Examples of what might be included in the regulations are that local authorities should have appropriate child protection and equal opportunities policies. This level of detail is best set out in regulations rather than primary legislation.

73.  Clause 44(d) provides for regulations to be made that define the numbers and types of staff to be employed by local authorities in connection with carrying out fostering functions. It would ensure that the statutory fostering functions of an authority were carried out effectively, by identifying the numbers and types of staff required.

74.  Clause 44(e) provides for regulations to be made that set out requirements for the management and level of training that is applied to local authority staff who carry out any functions connected with fostering. Working with looked after children and ensuring that they receive the best quality of care requires a level of competence and knowledge about an authority's statutory duties towards these children and young people. The regulations might, for instance, ensure that staff are aware of current law and practice relating to fostering. This level of detail is best set out in regulations rather than primary legislation.

75.  Clause 44(2) is similar to clause 20(2) which provides that regulations may in particular prohibit people being employed in certain positions if they are not on a register of social workers maintained under clause 52(1).

CLAUSE 45

76.  Clause 45 (1) mirrors clause 21(1) and (2). It creates a power to set national minimum standards that local authority adoption and fostering services and other agencies will be expected to comply with. It is important that services are delivered against minimum acceptable standards for both fostering and adoption and that these are taken account of when establishments or agencies is to be inspected. Failure to comply with the required standards will be taken account of by the registration authority in deciding whether to inform the Secretary of State under Clause 41.

CLAUSE 46

77.  Clause 46 (1) mirrors the power in clause 31(1) and provides that regulations may be made as to the content and completion of an annual return by a local authority to the registration authority. The regulations would define what information is required in the annual return in relation to the delivery of a local authority's adoption and fostering functions. This level of detail is best suited to regulations.

CLAUSE 47

78.  Clause 47(1) provides that regulations may be made to require an annual fee, of a prescribed amount, to be paid by the local authority to the registration authority. Regulations would define the level of fee required and the date by when it must be paid. This mirrors clause 14(3) in Part II. Such detail is better suited to regulations than primary legislation.

CLAUSE 48

79.  Clause 48(1) mirrors clause 23(1) and provides that regulations may provide that it is an offence to contravene or fail to comply with regulations made under this Part. Anyone convicted of such an offence would be liable to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale. The purpose of such regulations would be to set out a series of offences and their severity. The level of detail required suggests it would be better suited to regulations than primary legislation.


 
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