GPoC

Report
The General Power of
Competence
The means by which Local Councils can
engage fully in partnerships with:
• the Principal Authority
• other key stake holders and
• each other!
The General Power of
Competence (GPoC)
Localism Act 2011 sections 1-8
A local authority has power to do anything
that individuals generally may do.
(LA 2011 s1(1)
Note: the power of well-being no longer exists for
new projects.
An individual can ….
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•
•
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set up a company to provide a service
run a shop or post office
support a school
invest in local businesses
But an individual can’t put someone in prison –
and neither can a local council.
Government thinking
The power enables the council to
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•
•
work with others to provide cost-effective
services
be innovative
meet the needs of local people
The GPoC is a power of ‘first resort’
Freedom to act
•
•
•
•
Anywhere - not just in the parish
Anyone – including individuals
No need to prove benefit to council or community
It doesn’t matter if there are overlapping powers
Using the power to create income
• The council can charge for services.
• The council can trade through a company or a cooperative society.
• The council can invest in a local company and
receive a share dividend if the primary purpose is
to support the local economy.
And ….
• Councils must act reasonably when using the
power (the Wednesbury rules)
• Councils continue to use specific powers for
things that individuals can’t do; eg:
• raise a precept
• create byelaws
• issue fixed penalty notices
Eligibility
A parish or town council must meet criteria set by
the Secretary of State (Localism Act 2011 s8)
The criteria are set out in the Parish Councils
(General Power of Competence) (Prescribed
Conditions) Order 2012
Two criteria:
Elected councillors and qualified clerk
The eligibility process
At a meeting of the full council, the council decides
that it meets the criteria.
The resolution must be clear in the minutes.
The council confirms that it meets the criteria at
every annual meeting of the council after ordinary
elections (if it does).
Qualified councillors and Clerks
At the time of the resolution
• the number of councillors elected at the last election, or
at a subsequent by-election must equal or exceed two
thirds of the total number of seats on the council.
• The clerk must hold one of two sector-specific
qualifications
•
•
CiLCA (Certificate in Local Council Administration)
The Level Four qualification from the University of
Gloucestershire (eg CertHE Local Policy or Community
Engagement & Governance)
Loss of eligibility
If the council can no longer confirm eligibility at the
first annual meeting of the council after the ordinary
election
• it cannot start anything new under the GPoC
• it must go back to using specific powers and
s137 (currently £6.98 per elector)
Restrictions on using the power
Statutory duties remain in place:
• Duty to act with regard to crime and disorder
• Duty to consider conserving biodiversity
• Duty to provide allotments if there is a demand
The council must comply with procedural and
financial duties and with laws such as:
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•
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Health and safety
Freedom of information
Data protection
Employment law
12
Restrictions on using the power
If an activity is already restricted by a specific power,
then the restriction remains; eg: permission is
needed before working on roadside verges.
If another authority has a statutory duty related to
the activity (eg: provision of libraries), this might
restrict action … but ask ‘what may an individual do’.
And what next ….
For further advice or information …
• check out the ChALC.org.uk website
• see examples of best practice at NALC.gov.uk
• request the briefing note from
[email protected]

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