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by GK Strategy 16th October, 2014
2 min read

creativity in a crisis

Consulting Defective

One of our main tasks at GK Strategy is to track the publication and progress of government consultations. These are ostensibly opportunities for industry, unions, the voluntary sector and the general public to feed their views into the policy-making process.

Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll find a huge amount of justifiable scepticism about the value of the consultation process. The government now routinely issues consultations that last only a few weeks (previously the norm was 3 months). And the government is capable of completely ignoring the response – even if there is an overwhelming majority against a policy.

A recent example was a DECC consultation on fracking. 92% of more than 4,000 response answered a question on whether the government should grant underground access to developers in the negative. Yet DECC said in its response that as 55% of stakeholder (read “industry”) responses were positive, they would proceed in any case.

So you might ask, what’s the point of responding at all? Well, not every consultation is a stitch-up. Far from it – we have seen several examples of the government changing its position, often quite substantially, as a result of feedback from the consultation process. So there’s certainly value in putting in a coherent and well-argued response.

But a truly engaged business will go beyond that. Hopefully, they will have strong relationships with their sponsor government departments, and attentive political antennae, so that the consultation doesn’t catch them unawares in the first place. But if not, then a consultation is a great starting point to begin building those relationships up for the future. A well-written response won’t be dry and technical, but meaningful about the identity and values of the respondent.

So we’re realistic about the extent to which consultations really change things. But we know first-hand the impact they can make. Deciding simply to ride this out is a real risk in a world where competitors will be seeking to influence and shape the market. GK can help you get off the sidelines and onto the pitch.

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