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Government Consultation Principles updated 2018

Consultation Principles 2018

A. Consultations should be clear and concise
Use plain English and avoid acronyms. Be clear what questions you are
asking and limit the number of questions to those that are necessary.
Make them easy to understand and easy to answer. Avoid lengthy
documents when possible and consider merging those on related topics.

B. Consultations should have a purpose
Do not consult for the sake of it. Ask departmental lawyers whether you
have a legal duty to consult. Take consultation responses into account
when taking policy forward. Consult about policies or implementation plans
when the development of the policies or plans is at a formative stage. Do
not ask questions about issues on which you already have a final view.

C. Consultations should be informative
Give enough information to ensure that those consulted understand the
issues and can give informed responses. Include validated impact
assessments of the costs and benefits of the options being considered
when possible; this might be required where proposals have an impact on
business or the voluntary sector.

D. Consultations are only part of a process of engagement
Consider whether informal iterative consultation is appropriate, using new
digital tools and open, collaborative approaches. Consultation is not just
about formal documents and responses. It is an on-going process.

E. Consultations should last for a proportionate amount of time
Judge the length of the consultation on the basis of legal advice and taking
into account the nature and impact of the proposal. Consulting for too long
will unnecessarily delay policy development. Consulting too quickly will not
give enough time for consideration and will reduce the quality of
responses.

F. Consultations should be targeted
Consider the full range of people, business and voluntary bodies affected
by the policy, and whether representative groups exist. Consider targeting
specific groups if appropriate. Ensure they are aware of the consultation
and can access it. Consider how to tailor consultation to the needs and
preferences of particular groups, such as older people, younger people or
people with disabilities that may not respond to traditional consultation
methods.

G. Consultations should take account of the groups being consulted
Consult stakeholders in a way that suits them. Charities may need more
time to respond than businesses, for example. When the consultation
spans all or part of a holiday period, consider how this may affect
consultation and take appropriate mitigating action, such as prior
discussion with key interested parties or extension of the consultation
deadline beyond the holiday period.

H. Consultations should be agreed before publication
Seek collective agreement before publishing a written consultation,
particularly when consulting on new policy proposals. Consultations should
be published on gov.uk.

I. Consultation should facilitate scrutiny
Publish any response on the same page on gov.uk as the original
consultation, and ensure it is clear when the government has responded to
the consultation. Explain the responses that have been received from
consultees and how these have informed the policy. State how many
responses have been received.

J. Government responses to consultations should be published in a
timely fashion
Publish responses within 12 weeks of the consultation or provide an
explanation why this is not possible. Where consultation concerns a
statutory instrument publish responses before or at the same time as the
instrument is laid, except in very exceptional circumstances (and even
then publish responses as soon as possible). Allow appropriate time
between closing the consultation and implementing policy or legislation.

K. Consultation exercises should not generally be launched during local
or national election periods.

If exceptional circumstances make a consultation absolutely essential (for
example, for safeguarding public health), departments should seek advice
from the Propriety and Ethics team in the Cabinet Office. This document
does not have legal force and is subject to statutory and other legal
requirements.