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Running a local public service better

Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge enables communities to bid to take over local services they think they can run differently and better. This might include youth services, parks, libraries, allotments, children’s centres and a whole lot more.

Here’s how

Step 1: identify the service

Decide which service you want to run and where and how you would make improvements. Perhaps it would make sense to achieve economies of scale through running more than one service: for example running youth services across the district. Ensure you fully understand how it is currently run and what that costs.

Step 2: make sure your organisation is ready to deliver the service  

If successful, your group will have a legal and contractual obligation to deliver the service. Invest time in making sure you are ready for this: that you have the structures, skills and finance in place and ready to go. You may be eligible for government funding to develop the capacity of your organisation. Build a business case which shows how you will deliver your objectives, cover your costs and improve the service.

Step 3: submit an expression of interest to your local authority

Your expression of interest will need to be in writing and explain how your proposal will meet the needs of those who will use the service, as well showing that your organisation is suitable to run it. Check your local authority’s website to see whether they take expressions of interest all year round or only during certain periods.  

Step 4: bid to run the service  

If the expression of interest is accepted, the authority will put the service out to tender. Your organisation may be in competition with other groups who also want to run the service. 

Community Experiences 

  • Spotting a gap in the market Brent Tenants Rights Group submitted an Expression of Interest to their local authority to take on the Housing Tenancy Relations and Advice Service. Their proposal was accepted by Brent Council and this has given the group the opportunity to bid to deliver the service and improve local public service provision.

  • Janet Murphy, Chief Executive of Escape Family Support said on working through the issues for taking over a service and the expert support available: “We quickly realised that if we were going to be able to continue to grow and compete effectively we would have to evolve rapidly as an organisation. With support from Locality we were able to secure funding from the Social Investment Business which allowed us to conduct a pre-feasibility analysis which provided us with a firm platform from which to improve performance quickly and deploy our resources more effectively. If we have a word of advice for others it is to be proactive, start as early as you can and develop the right support networks.”

 For information on what is happening in South Lakeland visit Community Right to Challenge.

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