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Counting the cost of consultation – The basic laws of arithmetic apply to consultation as well!

Public consultation is not traditional accountant-territory. Few consultation projects are formally budgeted, and many of the costs involved are normally funded from larger departmental or functional budget allocations.

If you run a sizeable corporate communications department with a substantial budget earmarked for publicity, it may appear dogmatic hair-splitting to account separately for distributing leaflets inviting local residents to a public meeting. After all, aren’t consultation exercises but a sub-set of the wider task of public engagement?

Well yes …… and no! It is true that it is sometimes inconvenient to untangle cost allocations, but it is also high time a degree of financial discipline was exercised over consultations. The Institute estimates that the public sector alone spends over 100 million Pounds on public and stakeholder consultation, and there is natural concern that taxpayers receive value for money.

Here are three good reasons why consultations should be properly costed:-

 

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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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