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Local Information Networks

Volume 707: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have given to local authorities on setting up local information networks (LINks), what is the timetable according to which they must be set up, and what action can be taken by citizens if this timetable is not adhered to. [HL1198]

Local authorities (LAs) with social services responsibilities are under a duty (set out in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007) to make arrangements for the activities of local involvement networks (LINks) to be carried on in their area. They do this by contracting with an independent organisation—known as the host—that facilitates the establishment and running of the LINk. The duty came into effect on 1 April 2008.

The department issued two guidance documents in August 2007 to help LAs prepare for LINks (Getting ready for LINks—Planning Your Local Involvement Network, and Getting Ready for LINks—Contracting a Host Organisation for Your Local Involvement Network). The second document contained a model contract for LAs to use as a reference. These documents are available on the department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/Publications PolicyAndGuidance/DH_077266. Copies have been placed in the Library. The department also allocated a one-off payment of £10,000 to each local authority to assist in the procurement process.

Last year LINk leads received monthly bulletins updating them on policy developments and giving them practical information. As part of the programme of support a compendium of guidance to aid implementation was produced by the NHS Centre for Involvement, and expert advisers were available to visit LAs to provide help and advice; good practice has also been shared more widely at workshops and seminars.

To allow for the possibility that LAs might not have contracted a host organisation by 1 April 2008, they were placed under a transitional duty to ensure that LINk activities could be carried on by other means. This transitional duty ended on 31 December 2008.

If citizens are concerned that there are no arrangements in place for LINk activities to be carried on in their area, they should raise this with the appropriate LA, the statutory body under the duty to make such arrangements.