What is it?

The ‘community right to challenge’ is a component of the localism act 2011. This act seeks to shift power away from Whitehall and back into the hands of communities. In particular, the community right to challenge enables communities to identify public services they think they could run better (such as youth services, parks, children’s centres etc.), submit an expression of interest, and if accepted, ultimately put in a bid to run the service when the authority puts the service out to tender.

The community right to challenge is one of the lesser-used rights introduced as part of the localism act. Many small groups and organisations have found it difficult, firstly to get through the initial expression of interest phase where local authorities have the right to turn down applications for a myriad of reasons. Those expressions of interest that are accepted are then faced with an open and competitive bidding process, potentially with large scale national companies. Most small businesses at this stage find the bidding in the complex and competitive procurement process too difficult to navigate.

Who’s doing it?

Buckinghamshire: Employees take over fire service work
One known example of a successful community right to challenge took place in Buckinghamshire’s fire and rescue service. In this case, the fire service was keen to listen to their employees’ ideas about how parts of their service could be operated more effectively and provide better value for money or an improved service. Two employees came forward with an idea for their in-house industrial and commercial training unit. The two employees worked with the fire service to devise a new business model and successfully secured the contract to deliver the fire service’s industrial and commercial training services.

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