The Civil Service Reform Plan commits the government to improving policy making and implementation with a greater focus on robust evidence, transparency and engaging with key groups earlier in the process.
As a result the government is improving the way it consults by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach, so that the type and scale of engagement is proportional to the potential impacts of the proposal. The emphasis is on understanding the effects of a proposal and focussing on real engagement with key groups rather than following a set process.
The key Consultation Principles are:
- departments will follow a range of timescales rather than defaulting to a 12-week period, particularly where extensive engagement has occurred before;
- departments will need to give more thought to how they engage with and consult with those who are affected;
- consultation should be ‘digital by default’, but other forms should be used where these are needed to reach the groups affected by a policy; and
- the principles of the Compact between government and the voluntary and community sector will continue to be respected.
The new Consultation Principles will be promoted within Whitehall now, and the public will begin to see the new guidance take effect in early autumn 2012.
The guidance below replaces the Code of Practice on Consultation issued in July 2008.