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How to respond to government consultations

Find out how to effectively and efficiently respond to any departmental consultation, ensuring that your voice – and those of your service users – are heard and listened to. 

The responses government departments receive to consultations are vital for the development of well informed policies. 

Feedback from departments confirms that they are keen to hear the views of voluntary organisations. Well designed, responsive policies benefit communities and citizens and improve the targeting of resources.

Things you'll need

  • The views of service users to ensure their voices are heard and the perspectives of other experts.

Short responses that just cover key issues are welcome

It is acceptable and useful for a voluntary organisations to produce a response that just covers the issues where you feel you can offer a unique perspective.

A number of government departments have pointed out that some of the most useful responses they receive consist of a few clear and concise points from the point of view of an expert. Don’t feel you have to answer every single question.


Give priority to the consultation answers

Background information on your organisation can be useful – but is not generally considered  part of the core analysis of responses. It’s suitable to include this information, but it is best to add this at the end, so departments can easily access the key parts of your response.


Responses from individuals are welcome

Most responses come from organisations but responses from service users or practitioners are equally welcome and are read in the same way as the others.


Collaborative and joint responses are encouraged

Collaborative and joint responses can save time for the organisations involved. If this method saves time and means responses are sent that might otherwise not have been, then this approach is especially useful. Joint responses can also help departments to understand how widely and strongly views are held. 


Ensure you provide references for evidence and research used

If it is unlikely that a department will have seen the evidence or research you are referring to in your response. You should ensure that it is referenced in full so departments can look at it first-hand and in its entirety.


There is no right format

There is no right or wrong way to submit your response. It will help departments, however, if you respond to the consultation using the same structure as the consultation paper. Use subheadings, answer the questions in the same order and then add your views.


Be clear, succinct and jargon-free

In addition to this – don’t worry about being direct if you have a particular message you wish to convey (as long as you stay within the boundaries of libel law and decency).


Responses are often logged, read and considered as soon as they arrive

With this in mind, it can be useful to try to submit your consultation before the deadline (though we appreciate this can be challenging when consultation periods are short).


Do share your views on how consultation processes could be improved

Feedback about what works in terms of the process is useful – include these thoughts at the end of your response.

Further information

Find out more about influencing central government.


Page last edited Nov 07, 2016 History

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