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Reducing the burden of public consultation

Comment 2nd July 2010

Make public consultation duties and activity more proportionate and value for money or in some cases enable authorities to act first then receive feedback with the ability to make changes if required rather than encourage delay and procrastination with consultation exercises.

Considerable time, effort and public money is spent on listening exercising with little proven benefit. Consultation activity was massively increased in the late 1990s across the public sector.

Quality outcomes can be driven by used of more effective market research and made accountable through a committment to make changes during a probation period, rather than waste time and money on consultation rounds.

For example: changes to waiting restrictions (yellow line restrictions)

To install yellow lines the public are consulted, this work is undertaken by every local council. It would be quicker to install them on an experimental basis, using professional judgement and consulting with local elected members, install them and then seek feedback. At present simple proposals are costly and take consdierable officer time to implement. The Traffic Regulation Order process needs to be simplified.

For example: changes to NHS service provision in Greater Manchester

Millions of pounds of public money were spent on listening exercises with regard to changes to NHS services in 2006/7. The NHS was duty bound to conduct this exercise, but the available options had already been determined by cost and service efficacy reasons. The customer did not know best as often their reasoning was based on emotional reactions or inertia to change. If change is essential, consultation should be limited and the public told what is not on the table for discussion. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why does this matter?

Reduced public consultation benefits:

1) Reduced costs

2) Increased ability of public sector to act with speed

3) Increased used of existing accountability through elected members

4) Reassertion of role of alternative and more robust evidence gathering in most cost effective methods (market research) would improve customer insight

5) Widespread potenial of topic across the public sector (less red tape)

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