Berkshire County Council, ex p Parker [1996] LGR 449 (QBD)

Duty to assess – s47 NHSCCA 1997 – s21 NAA 1948 – statutory construction

A local authority has a duty to assess persons in apparent need under s47(1) National Health Service and Community Care Act 1997, for all community care services which the local authority has power to provide, regardless of whether or not in practice it actually provides services of a kind the person in question is likely to need.

Section 29(1) of the National Assistance Act 1948 Act confers two functions on local authorities; one permissive, the other mandatory. The duty to make arrangements was confined to cases where the Secretary of State for Social Security had given a direction relating to persons ordinarily resident in the authority’s area. The power to make arrangements was not so confined and arose where the Secretary of State had given his approval to arrangements being made. His approval could be given without regard to the place of residence of any potential beneficiary.

It was doubtful whether ministerial circulars provided a legitimate aid to construction of a statute, but subordinate legislation could assist.

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