Following a decision to refuse a request, the requesting local authority may seek a review by submitting an application for review to the Scottish Ministers. Where an application is submitted, a review must be carried out. A refusal of a request made by one local authority does not prevent another relevant local authority from making the same request as circumstances may vary between local authorities.
Application for review
Regulation 16 specifies how a requesting local authority’s application for review must be made and what it should include. They may only bring forward further matters or evidence in response to representations on the application, or if the review panel request it. A standard form for an application for review is provided with this guide. The standard form can be used as a check list to ensure all relevant information has been included with the application for review.
Acknowledgement and notification
The regulations set out the process that must be followed by the Scottish Ministers for acknowledging a review request and notifying interested parties. The acknowledgement must be sent within 20 working days of receipt of the application for review and anybody who made representations on the original additional powers request must be given notice within that same period. The specific information to be provided and relevant timescales are set out at regulation 17.
Interested parties can make representations in writing in respect of the review to the Scottish Ministers. A copy must be shared with the requesting local authority, which then has the opportunity to make comments to the Scottish Ministers on those representations. Copies of any representations received must also be published and made available for inspection online by the Scottish Ministers until a decision on the review has been made.
Where a valid application for review has been submitted, the Scottish Ministers will appoint a review panel. The review panel will comprise three persons of which no more than one can be a civil servant working for the Scottish Government (please note this does not mean that one member must be a Scottish Government civil servant). In appointing the panel, consideration will be given to persons with the requisite skills, knowledge and experience to understand the issues associated with the additional powers request. The Scottish Ministers will seek to ensure that the panel is impartial and capable of reaching conclusions based on the evidence made available to it. Prior to the review panel members being formally announced, steps will also be taken to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest.
Once the review panel has the initial evidence, any representations from interested parties and comments on those representations, the review panel may consider they have enough information to determine the review. If not, they will decide how to get more information. Anyone may be asked to provide further information by written submissions, or by attending a hearing session, including people or organisations not previously involved in the additional powers request.
Regulation 22 provides further information on written submissions and the rules for arranging and conducting a hearing session are outlined in the schedule of the regulations.
Review panel reporting
The review panel must report to the Scottish Ministers on its findings in fact and conclusions in respect of the additional powers request, on the back of which it makes recommendations.
Decision of the review
Having considered the review panel’s report and, if relevant, any new evidence, the Scottish Ministers will make a decision that may confirm the original decision or overturn that decision and give effect to the additional powers request. The decision must be made within six months from the application for review being made, or within a longer period agreed between the Scottish Ministers and the requesting local authority. In determining the review the Scottish Ministers must consider the review panel’s report and, if relevant, any new evidence and written representations submitted. They may also decide to extend the additional power to one or more of the other relevant local authorities.
The Scottish Ministers must issue a new decision notice, which replaces the previous decision notice. The decision notice must be issued within a specified time period (unless a longer period is negotiated) and must contain certain information, as set out at regulations 26 and 27.
Statement of actions
If the Scottish Ministers decide to give effect to an additional powers request, whether after the request is first determined or after a review, they must publish a statement online of the actions that they propose to take in relation to their decision. This requirement is set out in regulation 28.
Any comments, questions or suggestions about this guidance can be directed to the Local Government Policy and Relationships Team at the Scottish Government. You can contact the Scottish Government switchboard on 0300 244 4000 and they will direct you to the appropriate contacts.