Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge came into effect on 27 June 2012 as part of the Localism Act.  It gives community organisations the right to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) in running public services.

How does the Community Right to Challenge work?

If a community group, charity, parish council or group of staff (of the Council) identify a service they would like to run, they will need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) form to the Council.  If the Council accepts the Expression of Interest, it must run a procurement exercise for the service.  The interested group will then need to compete with others who may wish to run the service.

The Community Right to Challenge is only one mechanism to help communities get involved in the running of services.  It may not always be the best route for a group or community.  If you would like to discuss with us ways of improving our services, or look at alternative models for service delivery, please contact us.  There are a range of options for working in partnership.

Which groups* can use the Community Right to Challenge?

 There are 4 broad categories of groups who can use the Community Right to Challenge:

•     Voluntary and community bodies

•     Charities

•     Parish/Town Councils

•     Two or more employees of the Council

 *Please note individuals are not allowed to submit an Expression of Interest.

What legal structure is needed?

If you are a voluntary or community organisation then any legal structure, which can be shown to be 'not for profit', will be eligible for submitting an EOI, or that your activities are primarily for community benefit.  However a legal structure, which has limited liability status, is likely to be essential when it comes to running the service.

Two or more SSDC staff can submit an EOI.  If you are already involved in delivering the service you wish to take over you don't need to have a registered organisation at the point of submitting an EOI.  However, you would need to show that by the time of the procurement exercise, you would establish a suitable organisation to be able to run the service.

Further guidance on Legal Structures and Staff Mutuals can be found on page 8 of the CLG Guidance

Which public authorities must consider Expressions of Interest through the Community Right to Challenge?

All relevant Authorities must consider expressions of interest.  The Localism Act lists which are relevant authorities:

•      County Councils

•      District Councils

•      London Borough Councils

•      Certain Fire and Rescue Authorities

What services are relevant to the Community Right to Challenge?

The Community Right to Challenge applies to all 'relevant services' (which means all services provided by the Council, unless listed as an exclusion).

Exclusions include individual packages of services for continuing health and social care for named individuals with complex needs, provided/commissioned by a Local Authority or NHS body (or jointly).

Some services are excluded up until 1 April 2014.  These include services commissioned by a relevant Authority or NHS body, in conjunction with one or more health services, or by an NHS body acting on behalf of a relevant Authority.

It is the responsibility of the nominating group to identify the full details of the service.  We are unable to accept Expressions of Interest where the service has not been clearly identified.  SSDC may be able to help with providing the information you need; please allow us up to 8 weeks to supply the relevant information.

The Community Right to Challenge does not include 'functions' of the Local Authority.  For example a function of the Council is to grant or refuse planning permission, but the processing of planning applications is a service.

EOIs can be submitted for only part of a service, or for delivery in a specific geographic area within South Somerset.

When can an Expression of Interest in taking over a service be submitted?

Councils may choose to specify periods during which Expressions of Interest may be submitted for any relevant service.  At SSDC we will accept Expressions of Interest at any time during the year.

How do we submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)?

Expressions of Interest have to be in writing and must include certain pieces of information.  If you do not submit all the necessary information we will be unable to consider your application.  You can download a copy of our Expression of Interest form here.

How long will it take?

We will acknowledge receipt of your nomination within 30 calendar days.  During or after this time we will contact you for further information and discuss your proposal.  If your EOI is eligible, we aim to consider it within 6 months.  All eligible EOIs will be considered by SSDC's District Executive, which meets monthly.  We will notify you of the date of the meeting and notify you of any decisions made within 30 days of the meeting.

Follow this link for a diagram to explain our process.

What happens if my EOI is accepted?

If your EOI is accepted, the Council is then bound by law to undertake a procurement exercise.  The time taken to begin this will depend on the service and the way it's delivered.

What happens if my EOI is rejected?

We will notify you if your proposal is not eligible.  Details of grounds whereby an EOI may be rejected can be found in Section 6 of the CLG Community Right to Challenge Statutory Guidance

Will my proposal be considered as part of the procurement exercise?

No, once the procurement exercise is underway all potential bidders will be treated the same.  The process of expressing an interest does not give the nominating body any preferential rights once the procurement exercise begins.  The legislation does not restrict who the Council can transfer the service to.  It does not guarantee that the community will be able to take over the running of the service. Please read SSDC's Procurement Strategy for further information.

We want to take over a service; can we recruit and use our own staff to run it?

You will need to get specialist advice on this.  There are regulations (Transfer of Undertakings - Protection of Employment or 'TUPE') which apply to decide whether or not Local Authority staff have the right to transfer if the service is run by another organisation. There is further information on TUPE can be found using this link to ACAS.

What do I do next if I'm thinking of submitting an EOI?

We encourage all interested organisations to contact us before submitting an EOI.  Contact details are at the bottom of the page.

Some simple guidance on the Community Right to Challenge has been produced by the Government published guidance on the Community Right to Challenge.

For organisations wishing to take advantage of the new Community Rights listed in the Localism Act, the Government has established a range of support including funds for communities to develop their proposals.  The Social Investment Business, in partnership with Locality and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, will deliver a 3-year support programme worth £11.5million.  The programme will include a dedicated advice telephone line where support and information will be available.  It will also include grants to help groups to use the new Right and bid to run local public services, resources and case studies. 

We strongly recommend that you read the Communities and Local Government Community Right to Challenge Statutory Guidance and contact us before you consider submitting an Expression of Interest.

You can contact us at communities@southsomerset.gov.uk  or by post: Communities, South Somerset District Council, The Council Offices, Brympton Way, Yeovil BA20 2HT