City Research Online

The Localism Act 2011 and the general power of competence

Stanton, J. ORCID: 0000-0001-5211-5617 & Bowes, A. (2014). The Localism Act 2011 and the general power of competence. Public Law, 2014, pp. 392-402.


*P.L. 392 The Localism Act 2011 (LA 2011) makes fundamental changes to the powers and arrangements of local authorities.1 Amongst these is the introduction of a general power of competence replacing the well-being power, in the Local Government Act 2000 (LGA 2000). This analysis explores the nature of this new power and the extent to which it serves local authorities more effectively than its predecessor. Whilst we focus chiefly on the wording of the relevant provisions and the manner in which they have been interpreted, this analysis acknowledges that wider issues, not for discussion here, have and can impact on the use of these powers.2

The LGA 2000 provided, at s.2(1), that every local authority3 had the power to do anything which it considered likely to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic, social and environmental well-being of the local area.4 The provision was welcomed as providing "councils with an important opportunity to develop a meaningful and substantive community leadership role".5 It is, at first glance, a broad power allowing scope for local authorities to act as they choose, so long as it is for the benefit of their local area. Indeed, following the occasion*P.L. 393 of the power’s first outing in the courts, Arden noted that "the scope of the provision is … wide",6 a view that was echoed by others.7 In R. (on the application of J (Ghanaian Citizen))v Enfield LBC,8 for example, Elias J. held that s.2 was "capable of extending to the grant of financial assistance for acquiring accommodation".

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Public Law following peer review. The definitive published version Stanton, J. & Bowes, A. (2014). The Localism Act 2011 and the general power of competence. Public Law, 2014, pp. 392-402, is available online on Westlaw UK or from Thomson Reuters DocDel service.
Publisher Keywords: General power of competence; Judicial review; Local authorities' powers and duties
Subjects: K Law > KD England and Wales
Departments: The City Law School > Academic Programmes
[thumbnail of Bowes and Stanton, PL 2014.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (69kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login