In January this year the Government published a set of consultation principles, replacing the principles drawn up in 2012 and giving guidance to government departments on conducting consultations. In summary, these principles set out that a consultation:
• Should be clear and concise
• Should have a purpose
• Should be informative
• Is only part of a process of engagement
• Should last for a proportionate amount of time
• Should be targeted
• Should take account of the groups being consulted
• Should be agreed before publication
• Should facilitate scrutiny
• Government responses to consultations should be published in a timely fashion
• Consultation exercises should not generally be launched during local or national election periods.
Whilst we understand the need for principles, as associates of the Consultation Institute we share their view that in practice consultation is, more often than not, driven by both the threat of Judicial Review and established case law. The principles are likely to have less influence upon consultation than their authors may imagine.
That said, here at Community Research we are heartened to see that the principles state that consultations are only part of a process of engagement and that government recognises that ‘consultation is not just about formal documents and responses. It is an on-going process’.
For a full version of the latest Government Consultation principles, click here.
To find out more about the Consultation Institute Response to the principles go to Tuesday Topic 290.