Regina v Wandsworth London Borough Council Ex Parte Beckwith: HL 15 Dec 1995

The applicants had contended that Wandsworth was under a duty to maintain some accommodation for the elderly in premises under its own management.
Held: The applicants claim failed. Local Authorities may provide all care for elderly by outside agencies, not needing to provide their own homes and services. Courts determine what is the law, whether based on statute or common law and Parliament may change the law if that is desired.
Lord Hoffman: ‘the draftsman is therefore not saying that homes in the private sector may be included in the collective of homes which the council has to provide. He is saying that the concept of ‘arrangements’ which has been used to define the council’s duty in Section 21 is to include arrangements within the private sector. This produces an altogether different result: it extends the meaning of the concept by which the council’s duty is defined. Any arrangements which fall within the extended definition will satisfy the council’s duty.’ As to a local authority circular which said: ‘It is the view of the Department that the amendments introduced into the Act of 1948 by section 1 of the Community Care (Residential Accommodation) Act 1992 will require authorities to make some provision for residential care under Part 111 of the Act of 1948.’, Lord Hoffmann said: ‘The opinion of the Department is entitled to respect, particularly since I assume that the Act was drafted on its instructions. But in my view this statement is simply wrong.’


Lord Hoffman


Gazette 17-Jan-1996, Independent 21-Dec-1995, Times 15-Dec-1995, [1996] 1 WLR 60


National Health Service Act 1948 21 26


Appeal fromRegina v Wandsworth London Borough Council Ex Parte Beckwith CA 29-Jun-1995
Local Authority may cease to provide any care of a particular class if alternative voluntary arrangements can be made available. . .
At first instanceRegina v Wandsworth London Borough Council Ex Parte Beckwith QBD 21-Apr-1995
A Local Authority must maintain some facilities to provide each type of social care it was required to supply. . .

Cited by:

CitedM, Regina (on the Application of) v Slough Borough Council HL 30-Jul-2008
The House was asked ‘whether a local social services authority is obliged, under section 21(1)(a) of the 1948 Act, to arrange (and pay for) residential accommodation for a person subject to immigration control who is HIV positive but whose only . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Local Government

Updated: 10 April 2022; Ref: scu.88245