Effective Consultation

Click on this link to read our final submission to this Consultation

The Government is reviewing its consultation policy, under the heading “Effective Consultation: asking the right questions, asking the right people, listening to the answers”. Deadline 28 September 2007

Here's a summary of the PR, entitled 'Making Government Consultation work better'.

  • " A review of how the Government consults businesses, the third sector and citizens when it makes significant decisions"
    • What questions are asked?
    • Who is asked?
    • How best to react to the feedback received?
  • Instructions on how to submit feedback on http:// www.consultations.gov.uk (although, according to the PR, this site seems also to accept comments http://haveyoursay.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/regulation/
  • Current Government policy is set out in the Code of Practice on Consultation. This Code, established in 2000 and modified in 2004, sets out six criteria that Government departments should follow when carrying out formal, written consultation exercises.

Consultation Document pdf

Foreword by Hilary Armstrong (miniser for the Cabinet Office and Social Exclusion

Lays out the value of consultation, and how govt recently upped their game. Then states function of this doc: "ask how Government can improve its consultation work so that we truly get to hear the views of those who use public services, those who might be affected by changes to policy or new legislation, and the country's experts. Please use this opportunity to tell us about your experiences of Government consultations, how consultation exercises could be improved and how we can ensure that the views of all those who should have a say in future policies are heard."

Executive Summary

Centre-piece of a review of consultation policy, intended to seek evidence on this topic from a wider range of stakeholders to help in the design of an updated consultation policy which will lead to better consultation practices across Government.

  • Seeking evidence; validating existing evidence; exposing preliminary policy analysis and options to review
  • Existing Code of Practice of Consultation sets out criteria for formal, written Gov consultations, and is monitored by Consultation Coordinators in departments and the CabOff reports annually on observance of the '12-week criteron'
  • This doc has 2 parts
    • 1st: how Gov currently consults and how this can be improved i.e. relevant principles and how to evaluate. Also, relationship between consultation and impact assessment.
    • 2nd: 3 non-exhaustive options to stimulate debate on future policy


Why are we carrying out this consultation?

Scope of this consultation


What happens next?

Current Policy

Monitoring observance of the Code’scriteria

Consultation and Impact Assessment

Consulting for the right reasons at the right time

Effective Consultation

How best to seek stakeholder input?


Reporting back to stakeholders following consultations

Consultation fatigue

Other issues


Option 1: Written consultation plus one other method

Option 2: A Code of Practice with a fast-track procedure

Option 3: A flexible, principles-based policy

Summary of questions

Current policy

1. Do you think the Government's Code of Practice has led to an improvement in the way the Government consults and to improved policy outcomes? Please illustrate your answer with any concrete examples you may have.

  • Michael: cite Gowers process and results of quality practice (unsure if this is a product of CoP)

2. Are 12 weeks generally the right amount of time for the formal, written element of Government consultations to last? Do you think that there are circumstances where a shorter or longer duration may be more appropriate?

  • Michael: 12 weeks feels about right. Shorter period may seem attractive for quick results, but might exclude some. Longer period feels attractive to ensure inclusion so and may be suitable in some instances.

Monitoring Compliance

3. Is the system for monitoring and promoting performance of departments in relation to the criteria in the current Code of Practice on Consultation right? What improvements could be made?

Consultation and impact assessment

4. Is the new approach to Impact Assessment sufficient to improve public consultation on the evidence base for Government policy-making? How could consultation policy improve consultation on Impact Assessments?

  • Michael to get into this one - what's an IA?

Consulting for the right reasons at the right time

5. When in the policy development process do you think the Government should consult stakeholders? Please cite any relevant examples when you have been consulted at the right or wrong time.

  • Michael: cite FoI as 'too late' (i.e. fully-formed policy seemed to preclude comments), but of course there needs to be some substance before input will be useful. Do we have a more positive example to use?

How best to seek stakeholder input

6. Do you think that more emphasis should be placed on alternative supplementary approaches to consultation in a revised consultation policy? What supplementary approach or approaches would work best for you / your organisation?

  • Michael: we should have plenty to say here. Perhaps those running consultation could run a blog / mailing list on their latest findings and solicit comments, so maybe point towards the 'Steinberg Review'?


7. How do you generally become aware of Government consultations and how would you like to learn about upcoming and current Government consultations?

  • Michael: mainly through Supporters (Glyn in particular ...)
  • Glyn: I wish all government consultation where in one place, ideally with a rss feed and categories.

Reporting back following consultations

8. How do you rate the feedback you have seen from Government departments following the consultations and what improvements or changes would you like to see in relation to reporting back?


9. Is 'consultation fatigue' an issue for you? If so, why is this and how do you think this issue could be overcome?

  • Michael: fatigue becomes an issue because we are interested in so many issues. Can't see a solution.

Other issues

10. Please feel free to give us any other views you may have about the effectiveness of current consultation policy, the future of consultation policy, the case studies in this paper and other examples from the UK or elsewhere.

  • Michael to read case studies


11. Do you think any of these options would make for a good consultation policy? If so, which option and what changes could be made to improve it?

12. Are you content with the Government's preliminary analysis that the options identified in the consultation document would not impose costs on the private or third sector?

  • Michael to read. Is it a problem to impose costs on 3rd or private sector; maybe it makes economic sense to remove costs from govt?

About the consultation


Who we are consulting


Impact Tests

Case studies

Consultation Guidelines in the Republic of Ireland

Consultation Policy and Practice in Sweden

Defra asks stakeholders how they want to be consulted

Your health, your care, your say, Department of Health

HMRC’s“Consultative Forums”

Consultation of the thirdsector

Your Voice in Europe

International examples of definitions

Consultation Policy Review