Local Government: Standards

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities written question – answered on 23rd January 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, with reference to the Government response to the Committee on Standards in Public Life review of local government ethical standards, published on 18 March 2022, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of reviewing that response and implementing the recommendations of the review.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to enable local authorities to apply sanctions to councillors found to have broken the Local Government Association’s model code of conduct.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what steps his Department is taking with local authorities and their representative organisations to help ensure that local government is supported in reinforcing its reputation for ethical local standards.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what mechanisms exist to ensure that in cases which are referred to local government monitoring officers, full and fair consideration is given to the legal merits of the case; and if he will make an assessment of the extent to which the difficulty and expense to a member of public of seeking a Judicial Review of the decision in such a case may be impeding access to justice.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, how many complaints were submitted to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman about council officers in the last 12 months.

Photo of Lee Rowley Lee Rowley Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

In a democracy, it is crucial that elected members in local government inspire confidence and have the trust of the electorate. All local authorities must have a member code of conduct. Councils can decide what their local codes cover, although they must as a minimum conform to the seven ‘Nolan’ principles of standards in public life.

The Committee on Standards in Public Life review of Local Government Ethical Standards recommended strengthening the local government standards system with a range of legislative amendments. The Government response noted that some do not need legislation and can be better taken forward as best practice.  We made commitments in response to the review, including on strengthening sanctions, and will engage with local authority representative organisations in due course.

Councils have a number of options if councillors breach the code of conduct, including formal rebuke, removal of portfolio responsibilities and representative roles, and requiring members to undertake training.

It is the role of the Monitoring Officer to ensure that the council complies with the law and their own stated policies and procedures at all times. The Localism Act 2011 requires local authorities to appoint at least one Independent Person to assist the Monitoring Officer in investigations into code of conduct breaches.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman investigates complaints from members of the public who have suffered personal injustice arising from maladministration by local authorities. Concerns about the conduct of local authority officers may be taken into account as part of an investigation into a complaint about the local authority. The Ombudsman does not, however, consider complaints solely about the behaviour of officers – such complaints are a matter for the local authority as the employer.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.