Standards for England

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Future of the Local Standards Framework

Arrangements relating to the abolition of Standards for England

The government’s Localism Bill received Royal Assent on 15 November, meaning the Localism Act has now become law.

Under the standards provisions of the Act, it is the government’s intention to effect the abolition of the “Standards Board Regime” through the Localism Act 2011. This means that, under the standards provisions of the Act, Standards for England is to be abolished.

The government has now clarified the timetable for our abolition in response to a parliamentary question from Lord Greaves, although this is still subject to formal confirmation through regulations. It is the government’s intention that our abolition will take effect on 31 March 2012.

Prior to this, our regulatory role in handling cases on your behalf and issuing guidance will stop from a date that will be set out in regulations but, as noted in the government’s response to Lord Greaves, is anticipated to be 31 January 2012.

From this date, Standards for England will no longer have powers to accept new referrals from local standards committees or conduct investigations into complaints against members. Any existing referrals or investigations we have at that time will be transferred back to the relevant authority for completion. However, any complaints which are being handled locally on that date will need to continue through to a conclusion; and similarly any matters relating to completed investigations or appeals which have been referred to the First Tier Tribunal will continue to conclusion.

As stated, this means we will be returning, to local authorities, any existing referrals or open investigations which we have been unable to complete by 31 January. We currently have a number of cases which we expect will not be completed by this date, and we have already contacted the monitoring officers in question to agree handover arrangements.

You may also wish to note that - while we can continue to receive referrals of new cases up to 31 January, and we will continue to assess whether it is in the public interest to take them on or not for the short time remaining - it will become increasingly unlikely that we will feel in a position to take a case where the investigation is likely to go beyond the end of January.

Standards for England staff will, of course, continue to be on-hand between now and the end of January to facilitate the transfer of existing referrals and open cases back to local standards committees, as well as to provide advice and guidance on the current framework.

Please note that these arrangements relate only to the role of Standards for England in the current standards framework. It is for DCLG to confirm when the other standards elements of the Localism Act 2011, such as the removal of powers from existing local standards committees, the requirement to adopt a local Code and to appoint an independent member, will come into force.

Any questions about future standards arrangements should therefore be referred to the Local Government Standards team in the Conduct and Council Constitutions Division at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). They can be contacted via the DCLG switchboard on 0303 444 0000.  We will be working closely with DCLG to ensure an orderly handover and closure of our organisation. 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require further details about any of the above information.  Our enquiries line is 0845 078 8181.




Last Modified: 07 12 2011
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