There are four very good reasons not to jump straight into an expression of interest (step 4) at this point:
1. You may end up wasting your time with an inappropriate Challenge. There are lots of reasons why an expression of interest can be rejected (see step 5) and some very simple enquiries to the authority may identify reasons why a Challenge for a particular service would be automatically unsuccessful.
2. You will need to get good quality information about any service you wish to challenge to run. You will need to find out as much as possible about how it is delivered at the moment, how it is organised geographically, what outcomes it achieves, what other organisations (if any) are involved in elements of delivery, and how much of the authority’s budget is currently spent on it.
To successfully challenge to deliver a service using the Right to Challenge you will need to be able to demonstrate how you can deliver a better service. You might feel that you can deliver a better quality service, a more responsive service, a more joined-up service, or even a cheaper service, but unless you know what the ‘baseline’ position is, you will struggle to demonstrate that this may be the case. An expression of interest which contains inadequate or inaccurate information can be rejected on these grounds alone.
3. You will need to identify whether TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – is likely to apply. TUPE is a highly complex area of regulations which mean that when a service is transferred from one organisation to another, employees’ jobs and conditions may need to transfer at the same time. If this is the case, then clearly your whole approach to a Right to Challenge will be different to your approach if it is not.
It is often not completely clear whether TUPE will definitely apply in any given situation as it depends on a number of factors which may be grey areas in your case, but the most important thing to note is that applying or not applying TUPE is not a decision which you can just make yourself.
Read our Guidance on TUPE for more information.
4. You may find that there is a better way to achieving your goals than by using the Community Right to Challenge. You might find that the authority is already reviewing how it delivers that service and is willing to talk to you about your ideas. Or they may already be planning to procure for the service and can give you some information about the planned procurement process. Or you may even get some information from the authority which means that your goals might change, and you might find a solution which is better for both parties.