Community Right to Challenge – frequently asked questions
1. What is the legal basis for the Community Right to Challenge ?
Part 5, Chapter 2 of the Localism Act 2011 provides the legislative arrangements. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-right-to-challenge-statutory-guidance)
2. What does the Community Right to Challenge aim to achieve?
Enables eligible groups (see section 3 below) to express an interest in running a local authority service:
- It gives them the extra time they need to be able to compete fairly in an open procurement exercise
- It provides a way of opening up public service delivery to groups and organisations other than those in the public and private sector
3. Who has the right to challenge?
The following groups are all eligible to express an interest in bidding to run a particular Dartford Borough Council service:
- A voluntary or community body;
- A body of persons or a trust which is established for charitable purposes only;
- A parish/town council;
- Two or more employees of Dartford Borough Council
A Voluntary body is a body that is not public or local authority, the activities of which are not carried out for profit. It can generate a surplus provided it is used for the purposes of its activities or invested in the community.
A Community body is a body which is not a public or local authority, the activities of which are primarily for the benefit of the local community.
4. What services can an eligible body express an interest in?
The services which are open to challenge are any which are provided by or on behalf of Dartford Borough Council. 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.
5. When can an eligible body express an interest in a service?
The Act allows councils to set times when they will accept expressions of interest for each service. The Council has decided to limit formal Expressions of Interest to between 1 March and 31 March each year. The Council welcomes informal discussions at any time.
6. How does an eligible body express an interest in a service?
To submit an expression of interest complete the Online Expression of Interest Form: Expression of Interest Form
7. What happens to the expression of interest once it is received?
Dartford Borough Council has a duty to consider the expression of interest and either accept or reject it (there are set reasons when an expression can be rejected – see section 8 below). The Council may contact the organisation submitting the expression of interest to suggest changes which could be made to the submission for it to be accepted. The Council will respond to the expression of interest within 120 days of receipt. If the expression is accepted, a procurement exercise will be carried out.
8. What are the grounds on which an expression of interest can be rejected?
An expression of interest may only be rejected in the following cases;
- The expression of interest does not comply with any of the requirements specified in the Act or in regulations
- The information supplied in the expression of interest is materially inaccurate or inadequate
- The applicant is not suitable to provide the service
- Dartford Borough Council has decided to stop the service altogether
- The service is integrated with an NHS service
- The relevant service is already the subject of a procurement exercise
- Dartford Borough Council and a third party have entered into negotiations for provision of the service, which negotiations are at least in part conducted in writing
- Dartford Borough Council has published its intention to consider the provision of the relevant service by a body that 2 or more specified employees of the Council propose to establish
- The expression of interest is considered frivolous or vexatious
- The acceptance of the expression of interest is likely to lead to contravention of an enactment or other rule of law or a breach of statutory duty
9. Where can I find out further information?
Localism Act 2011 – Community Right to Challenge – Statutory Guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/community-right-to-challenge-statutory-guidance)
My Community Rights – www.mycommunityrights.org.uk/community-right-to-challenge/
Independent support is available from Locality, a national network of over 700 community-led organisations – see www.locality.org.uk
Or by contacting:
Community Right to Challenge
Dartford Borough Council
Kent DA1 1DR
Tel: 01322 343312