Community right to challenge
The community right to challenge was created in England by the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 and came into effect on 27 June 2012. It is supported by secondary legislation; The Community Right to Challenge (Fire and Rescue Authorities and Rejection of Expressions of Interest) (England) Regulations 2012 and The Community Right to Challenge (Expressions of Interest and Excluded Services) (England) Regulations 2012.
The community right to challenge offers communities the opportunity to have more control and play a bigger role in running and shaping local services by giving them the right to express an interest in taking over a local service, or a part of it, where they think they can do it in a different manner or in a better way.
Under the community right to challenge an expression of interest (EOI) can be submitted to challenge or take on the provision of services by relevant authorities:
- County councils.
- District councils.
- London borough councils.
- Certain fire and rescue authorities.
The government suggest that the following ‘relevant bodies’ are eligible to submit expressions of interest:
- Town or parish councils.
- Two or more county council employees.
- Community groups or voluntary organisations.
- Charitable trusts or bodies.
- Social enterprises.
- Any person or body specified by the Secretary of State.
Expressions of interest should follow the statutory guidance, including specific information to ensure they can be assessed fairly and in full:
- Identification of the service in question and the geographical area to which it relates.
- Financial information.
- Evidence of capability to provide the service.
- Details of the social, economic or environmental benefits.
- Specifics of meeting service user’s needs.
An expression of interest may be rejected for a number of reasons:
- It has not been submitted by a relevant body or group.
- It contains inaccurate or inadequate information.
- It relates to a service the authority are not responsible for.
- It relates to a service the authority has already agreed will be delivered by another group.
- The submission is considered frivolous or vexatious.
- The service is already subject to procurement.
- The expression of interest is likely to breach statutory duties.
Once an expression of interest is submitted, an initial response should be given within 30 days. More information may then be required, but a decision can be made within 4 months.
If the relevant authority agrees to accept the expression of interest, it must run a procurement exercise, which is then opened up to other groups and bodies that did not submit the original expression of interest. This process is open and no favour is given to the party that submitted the expression of interest.
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