Section 116 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 amends section
17(6) of the Children Act 1989 to make clear the power for local
authorities to provide accommodation for children in need under
that subsection. As amended, section 17(6) permits local
authorities to provide assistance in kind, accommodation or, in
exceptional circumstances, cash. It is one of the few provisions in
the 2002 act to be implemented on enactment.
It needs to be recognised that accommodation under section 17 is
distinct from accommodation under section 20 of the 1989 act, and
the duties under that section do not apply where accommodation is
provided for a child in need. The purpose should be to give an
authority discretion in extreme cases to accommodate a child with
his family, where they might otherwise have to separate.
This provision clarifies previously conflicting case law. Given
its scope, it is surprising that it has not had more publicity.
White and Sherwin Solicitors