Under the Localism Act, voluntary and community bodies, local authority employees who wish to form a mutual organization, and parish councils can express an interest in running a local authority service.
The authority must consider expressions of interest and, where they accept them, then go on to run a procurement exercise for the service.
The Right to Challenge gives local groups with good ideas about how services could be run differently or better the opportunity to have a fair hearing, and if successful in their initial expression of interest, to bid to run the service themselves as part of the procurement process.
Who can make a challenge?
Under the Localism Act, a ‘relevant body’ is defined as a voluntary or community body; a body of persons or a trust which is established for charitable purposes only; a parish council; or two or more employees of the local authority.
This definition is intended to include bodies which represent the community in different ways, whether they are made up of members of the community, work in – or for the benefit of – the community, or already deliver services for the community. Community in this instance can refer to either a community of interest or part or all of the population within the relevant authority area.
The challenge process
A relevant body may submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) during a set period of time. Once this has been received, a panel will be put together to consider the EoI.
The panel will first look at whether it meets the criteria to be considered under the Right to Challenge, and then consider whether it should be accepted, using the criteria below.
Once all Expressions of Interest have been received and considered, a report will go to the Council Executive setting out what has been received, and making recommendations for acceptance, rejection, for a modification, for more information, or that time is required for more analysis. A written response will then be sent to the organisation or group that sent in the EoI.
If a modification is proposed by the council, the organisation that submitted the EoI will be free to accept or reject the proposed modification. If the EoI is rejected an explanation will be provided by the council. If the EoI is accepted information will be provided about what will happen next regarding the procurement process.
Please note that there are grants available to community groups looking to take over local services. These are nationally available (not administered by Islington) and more information is available from the "My Community Rights" website (under 'Related information', below).
The period of time for EoI submissions for 2020 to 2021 is open from 1 September 2019 to 31 October 2019.