The Local Government (Disqualifcation) Act 2022

Background and implications for councils and councillors


Background to the Local Government (Disqualification) Act 2022

The Local Government (Disqualification) Act updates the disqualification criteria for local authority members (councillors, mayors of combined authorities, the mayor of London and London assembly members) to explicitly disqualify individuals who are subject to relevant notification requirements or orders due to sexual offences from standing for or remaining in office. The Act applies to certain positions in local government in England and came into force on 28 June 2022.

The previous disqualification criteria for councillors, directly elected mayors, and London assembly members are set out in various legislation. Regarding criminal activity not related to election practices, a person is disqualified from standing for election or holding public office if they have been convicted of any offence and have received a sentence of imprisonment (suspended or not) for a period of no less than three months (without the option of a fine) or more in the five-year period before the relevant election.

With the recent creation of new offences and new sentencing regimes, some offences like certain sexual offences do not result in a custodial sentence. Therefore, councillors convicted of offences, which previously would have resulted in disqualification, were able to retain their role if elected or run for election even if recently convicted. This Act updates the disqualification criteria so that sexual offences that had unintentionally fallen out of the scope of the disqualification criteria were brought back into scope.

The Act adds the following relevant notification requirements and orders to the disqualification criteria for councillors, mayors of combined authorities, the mayor of London and London assembly members:

This Act is essential in ensuring that the public continues to have confidence in their elected representatives and local democracy. The LGA supported the objective of the Local Government (Disqualification) Act to ensure the highest standards of integrity and conduct in public life. We agreed that it is right that individuals convicted of sexual offences outlined in the Bill should be disqualified from running for public office or retaining their seat if already elected.

However, the LGA have previously raised concerns that this Act only applies councillors, mayors and assembly members. Police and crime commissioners, members of the House of Commons and House of Lords must equally be disqualified from public office if they receive a similar notification or order as outlined in this Act. The Act has created further discrepancies in the disqualification and standards regime that applies to local and national politicians and throughout the passage of this Act the LGA urged Government to bring forward similar legislation for national politicians.

The implications of the Act for councils and councillors

The Act will add to existing criteria that disqualify individuals from being elected to, or holding, certain positions in local government in England. The Local Government (Disqualification) Act 2022 is not retrospective; this means that its disqualification will not apply to a person subject to any relevant notification requirements, or a relevant order, before 28 June 2022.

Candidates for election to local government must declare they are not disqualified from standing using prescribed ‘Consent to Nomination’ forms at nomination. It is a criminal offence to make a false statement on nomination papers.

These rules are made in local election regulations and the Government are in the process of updating these regulations. The relevant election rules that prescribe the forms are:

Candidates should be alerted to the new disqualification via the candidate nomination forms and through updated guidance. The Electoral Commission have also updated their relevant guidance and landing pages. These can be found here: