Section 17: Children's Services Planning - Default Powers Of Scottish Ministers
155. As set out in section 17 of the Act, where Scottish Ministers consider that a local authority and the relevant health board are not exercising a function conferred on them by Part 3 (other than complying with section 12), or in exercising a function are not complying with any statutory guidance issued under section 15(1), they have the power to:
(a) direct a local authority and the relevant health board to exercise the function in a particular way; or
(b) direct that the function is to be exercised instead by the local authority, the relevant health board, or another local authority or health board.
156. A local authority and/or health board must comply with any direction addressed to them. Directions issued by Scottish Ministers under section 17(2) of the Act may direct a local authority or health board to make a payment to a person (the local authority, relevant health board, or another local authority or health board) who is to exercise a function in place of the original local authority and relevant health board.
157. Before issuing, revising or revoking a direction under section 17(2), Scottish Ministers must consult the local authority and relevant health board whose failure is to be, or is, the subject of the direction, and any other persons they consider appropriate.
158. Please note that, while Scottish Ministers reserve these powers to facilitate compliance with the legislation, there are currently no plans for their use. Local authorities and health boards already work closely together, in partnership with the third sector, to plan and deliver services for their community, and in this context the functions of children's services planning are likely to represent a consolidation of established practice. Moreover, as per section 16(1) and section 17(1)(a), directions issued in relation to "children's services planning" cannot relate to the implementation of plans (i.e. how children's or related services should be delivered on a day-to-day basis). Scottish Ministers do not anticipate using these powers apart from in exceptional circumstances, where it is clear that a process (i.e. planning, review, reporting, etc.) described by Part 3 is not being followed.