Social enterprise and the ‘right to challenge’

The Community ‘Right to Challenge’

The Community ‘Right to Challenge’ is part of the government’s Open Public Services agenda. Open Public Services aims to open delivery of local public services to a more competitive market.

How does it work?

The Right to Challenge was introduced through the Localism Act 2011 and came into force in June 2012 (there’s also a ‘plain English’ guide to the Act). Under this new legislation, ‘relevant bodies’ (voluntary or community organisations, charitable bodies/trusts, parish councils, and any other body/person specified by the Secretary of State’s legislation) have the right to ‘challenge’ the existing delivery of a public service and express an interest in providing that service on behalf of a public authority.

Voluntary and community sector organisations can express an interest to take over delivery of a public service (within an allotted time period specified by the public authority).

The public authority is obliged to review the expression of interest as long as it meets minimum requirements. But this does not mean that the alternative provider — the social enterprise or not-for-profit community organisation, say — is automatically successful in its challenge. Far from it. What this means is that if the expression of interest is accepted then the service will be put out to public tender by the authority.

Download our guide to the right to the challenge

We are grateful to Asif Afridi at brap who has produced this guide for us:

The Community Right to Challenge: A guide for social enterprises and third sector organisations