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What are consultations?

Consultation - involving the public in the work of government - has become an integral part of the policy making process.

Running a consultation is not simply about more open-government, although that too is important, it is about making policies more effective by listening and taking onboard the views of the public and interested groups.

Benefits of consultations

Listening to the public has a number of specific benefits; it:

  • allows government to tap the widest source of information possible and thus improves the quality of the decision reached
  • alerts policy makers to any concerns and issues not picked up through existing evidence or research
  • helps to monitor existing policy and determine whether changes are needed

Code of practice

All consultation documents follow the Cabinet Office's code of practice. These guidelines help to ensure that a common standard exists across government for consulting the public. When government consults it must:

  • build a realistic timeframe for the consultation, allowing plenty of time for each stage of the process
  • be clear as to who is being consulted, about what and for what specific purpose
  • ensure that the document is as simple and concise as possible. It should include a summary and clearly set out the questions it wishes to address
  • always distribute documents as widely as possible, using electronic means (but not at the exclusion of others)
  • make sure all responses are carefully and open-mindedly analysed, and the results made widely available, with an account of the views expressed and the reasons for decisions finally taken

Government consultation websites

You can find out what government is consulting on by checking the consultation pages of government websites. Find out what government is consulting on by following the link below.

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Additional links

Guide to government

UK government information including the monarchy, European Union, national and international bodies

A step-by-step guide to the major seats of power in UK politics

Help with consultations

Advice on taking part in public consultations including tips on how to make your response stand out

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