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Right to Challenge FAQ

Community right to challenge: Some frequently asked questions

What is the community right to challenge?

The community right to challenge was introduced by the Localism Act 2011. It allows voluntary and community groups to make expressions of interest to councils to take over the running of local services on the council's behalf. If an expression of interest is accepted by a council, there will be an open procurement exercise where the group who made the expression of interest may or may not be successful.

Who can submit an expression of interest?

The Act limits the right to submit an expression of interest to certain types of organisation, which it describes as 'relevant bodies. They are:

More information on what is meant by these terms, and how you can demonstrate that you meet the criteria, is provided in our expression of interest form.

Which local services are open to challenge?

The Act allows expressions of interest to be sent to certain local service providers only, which it describes as 'relevant authorities'. These are county, district and metropolitan borough councils. The services which are open to challenge are any which are provided by or on behalf of a relevant authority. The right to challenge only applies to council 'services' and not 'functions', so expressions of interest cannot be submitted to take over, for example, democratic decision-making.

How do I submit an expression of interest?

The Act does not say the exact format that an expression of interest needs to take. However, it does say there are a number of pieces of information which need to be included. A complete list of these is provided in our expression of interest form, which has been designed to make sure expressions of interest contain all the information which we would lawfully need to consider your submission.

When can I submit an expression of interest?

The Act helps councils to set times where they will accept expressions of interest on each of their services. This is intended to help councils manage their 'commissioning cycle' and make sure that expressions of interest are only received during times when, for example, existing contracts are coming to an end. A complete list of our services, together with the times we are open to expressions of interest, is available on our website.

What happens once my expression of interest is submitted?

The council your expression of interest was sent to has a duty to consider it and either accept or reject it. It may also contact you to suggest changes which would it to be accepted. There are only times where an expression of interest can be rejected (see below). In Swale, we will tell you of our decision to accept or reject your expression of interest within 90 days of submission. If we accept it, there will be a procurement exercise within 90 days or 180 days if the value is going to be more than £100k.

What are the grounds on which an expression of interest can be rejected?

The Act lists the following as reasons for a council not to accept an expression of interest:

How can I find out more?

The information on our website will help you to work up an expression of interest and the types of service which we are most interested in getting expressions of interest. These include our localism prospectus 'Local First', our Community Right to Challenge timetable and our expression of interest form.

Even if you feel that this gives you enough information to complete an expression of interest, we would still advise you to speak to us before make a submission, as the right to challenge may not always be the best way for you to take over a service. Please contact the procurement team for more information.

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