Consultation principles: guidance

The government is improving the way it consults by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach.


Consultation Principles

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The Civil Service Reform Plan commits the government to improving policy making and implementation with a greater focus on robust evidence, transparency and engaging with key groups earlier in the process.

As a result the government is improving the way it consults by adopting a more proportionate and targeted approach, so that the type and scale of engagement is proportional to the potential impacts of the proposal. The emphasis is on understanding the effects of a proposal and focussing on real engagement with key groups rather than following a set process. 

The key Consultation Principles are:

  • departments will follow a range of timescales rather than defaulting to a 12-week period, particularly where extensive engagement has occurred before
  • departments will need to give more thought to how they engage with and use real discussion with affected parties and experts as well as the expertise of civil service learning to make well informed decisions 
  • departments should explain what responses they have received and how these have been used in formulating policy
  • consultation should be ‘digital by default’, but other forms should be used where these are needed to reach the groups affected by a policy
  • the principles of the Compact between government and the voluntary and community sector will continue to be respected.

The new Consultation Principles will be promoted within Whitehall now.

This guidance replaces the Code of Practice on Consultation issued in July 2008.