Pushing for better consultations

Is it time for key stakeholders to become more assertive and demand better consultations?

Have public consultations got better over the last ten years?  It’s a good question, because although some of us close to the profession would claim significant advances, many others would vociferously deny it. They might point to regular abuses and a continuing scepticism that public decision-makers aren’t good at listening. A balanced compromise view might be that such improvements, as we have seen, are masked by ever-increasing expectations from a more engaged and combative general public. This is also true outside the UK.

If we accept that there have been improvements in consultation process – what exactly has caused it? Ten years ago, Central Government kept publishing Guidance and tried hard to instil better standards – so could claim some credit. That seems now to have tailed off. The Courts have had a bigger influence, so the rise in judicial interventions has made many consultors anxious to minimise the risk of judicial review. And I suppose the Institute’s modest role in the education and training of practitioners will also have helped.

Arguably, however, the most powerful single stimulus to best practice potentially comes from another source. One that is yet to have the impact it should. Stakeholders themselves. Yes, we are talking about ‘Consultee power’.

 

Access to this content is exclusively for Institute members

Not a member? Unlock this article and more today by signing up for a Consultation Institute membership. Benefit from access to over 300 Topic Papers and Briefing Notes, discounted rates on all public training and more. Click on Join Now today to find out more and sign up.

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” – still the only major book on public consultation, and has delivered over 300 training courses and Masterclasses. He is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 300 different Topic papers and over 20 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 12,000 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 the NHS.

Read more about Rhion

Sign up to receive our newsletter

    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By signing up to our mailing list, you agree to our terms and conditions. You can unsubscribe at anytime by clicking here.