Engagement Considerations – Acts & Guidance
The following provides background to some key acts and guidance, this is not a definitive list and subject to intepretation through case law and further legal guidance.
Best Value aims to achieve continuous improvement in the way local authority functions are carried out.
“Under the Duty of Best Value authorities should consider overall value, including economic, environmental and social value, when reviewing service provision. As a concept, social value is about seeking to maximise the additional benefit that can be created by procuring or commissioning goods and services, above and beyond the benefit of merely the goods and services themselves.”
When considering Best Value authorities are under a non-optional ‘Duty to Consult’ representatives of local people, council tax payers, those who use or are likely to use a service, who have an interest, voluntary and community organisations, and local businesses.
The Caldicott Principles govern the use of information on service users to ensure the minimum amount of identifiable personal information is exchanged, and only when necessary. The six principles are:
• Justify the purpose for needing the information.
• Do not use person identifiable information unless it is absolutely necessary.
• Use the minimum amount necessary of person identifiable information.
• Access to person identifiable information should be on a strict need to know basis.
• Everyone should be aware of their responsibilities.
• Everyone should understand and comply with the law.
Data Protection Act
The Data Protection Act 1998 protects information about living identifiable individuals. It provides a framework which balances the legitimate needs of organisations to collect and use personal data against the right of individuals to respect the privacy of their personal details.
If you are collecting personal details for the first time, would like to use the information for a different purpose, or would like to share personal data contact the Information Governance Team. If you are thinking of sharing personal details within Devon County Council or with any of our partners, you should consult the Knowing When to Share web pages for further guidance.
The Equality Duty requires public bodies to consider how the decisions that they make, and the services they deliver, affect people who share different protected characteristics. The Act makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic in many areas, for example, in providing services. To fulfil this will involve engagement.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access by the public to recorded Devon County Council information held by the Council. Any person who makes a written request for Devon County Council information, must be told whether or not we hold the information, and have this supplied to them within 20 working days, subject to the application of any of the exemptions from disclosure under the act (e.g. already, or about to be, published).
All requests under the Freedom of Information Act must go through the Information Governance Team, and must be forwarded to them as soon as they are received to ensure compliance with the Act. Further information at www.devon.gov.uk.
The Localism Act moves some power from central government to local authorities and communities including community rights, and neighbourhood planning. Community rights gives a fair chance for community organisations to take over land and buildings important to them (when up for sale). Neighbourhood planning will allow parish and town councils, with neighbourhood forums, and support by local planning authorities, to have a greater say in local planning decisions. Communities and Devon County Council will need to engage through Localism.
Mental Capacity Act 2005
Mental Capacity Act 2005 defines people who lack capacity and sets out key principles and a checklist used to determine a person’s best interests. The Act deals with liability for actions in connection with the care of treatment of a person who lack capacity to consent on what is done. Included are safeguards controlling research involving people who lack capacity, and a system for independent mental capacity advocates for vulnerable people. A code of practice is provided about the legislation and the offence of neglect or ill-treatment. Consideration needs to be given for appropriate advocacy when engaging on services involving people with mental health issues.