Repeal of the ‘Duty to Involve’ – good or bad idea?

Just before Easter the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) issued new Best Value statutory guidance and announced a consultation, that closes on June 14, to repeal a key statutory duty on local authorities: the Duty to Involve.

The repeal of the Duty to Involve has raised quite a lot of debate in the community engagement fraternity with some commentators strongly opposing the change.

The Government has argued that its proposals for a new range of Community Rights, within the Localism Bill, are a more localist approach to involving people. These comprise:

  • Community Right to Challenge. Under this Right voluntary and community groups, parish councils and local authority staff will be able to challenge to take over the running of local public services.
  • Community Right to Buy. Under this Right important local amenities and buildings – such as old town halls, community halls or the last village shop or pub can be nominated for listing by the local authority as assets of community value. If listed assets come up for sale, communities will have extra time to prepare a bid to take them over, making it easier to keep much-loved assets in public use and part of local life.
  • Community Right to Build. This allows communities to get together and take forward developments for new homes, shops and facilities in their area and also allows a community organisation to go ahead with development without the need for an application for planning permission, if there is overwhelming community support for the development and minimum criteria are met

These are important new rights, however they do seem to be ones that strengthen the position of those individuals and communities who are already motivated to take part. We know from our work on values research that levels of motivation and self-efficacy are not evenly distributed across the population and in some communities are part of a wider issue of low levels of social capital.

Thus there might be a case for elements of the Duty to Involve to be retained as Edward Anderson of Involve argues.

In  the end, the key thing is that people should take part in the consultation before 14 June and express a strong range of views on how public involvement should be taken forward, in order to avoid any change leading to gaps in public involvement in the communities that may need it most.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

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One Response to “Repeal of the ‘Duty to Involve’ – good or bad idea?”

  1. The repeal of the ‘Duty to Involve’ – a localist case for retention? « The Campaign Company’s Blog Says:

    […] have previously blogged about the current Communities and Local Government (CLG) Department consultation on the repeal of […]

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