More than half of councils failed to comply with the government’s recommended 12-week period for consultation in setting their adult social care budgets for 2011-12.
Community Care’s survey of 73 councils found 52% held consultations on adult care budget or service changes that were shorter than 12 weeks.
The shortest lasted only five days and a further eight councils took a month or less.“Allowing at least 12 weeks will help enhance the quality of the responses,” said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills guidance.
“This is because many organisations will want to consult the people they represent or work with before drafting a response to government and to do so takes time.”
Stephen Broach, barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, sounded a warning to councils. “Public authorities are playing with fire if they do tokenistic consultations,” he said.
However, Andrew Cozens, strategic lead for adult social care for the Local Government Group, said the 12-week period was only a guide.
“If the council has discussed the changes with communities before the formal consultation, as they often have done, then the length of the consultation period is less of a problem,” he said.
But he urged councils to avoid consultations that lasted less than a month.
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