A consultation launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has been criticised for its short timescale, poorly-written brief, and duplication of existing Cabinet Office research on volunteering.
The BIS Focus on Enforcement for Volunteer Events opened on 21 May calling for opinions on regulatory activity at local or national level affecting volunteer-led events. The consultation is part of BIS's commitment made in its submission to the red tape challenge to "examine how regulatory functions are delivered at the frontline" and is open for six weeks until 2 July.
However Tom Elkins, Compact Voice manager, has criticised the consultation in his blog, slating the lack of transparency over how the consultation would connect up with that of the Cabinet Office consultation on tackling red tape with a focus on civil society.
"This may seem like an example of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing," he wrote, "and in the context of a minister commenting on the burden of having to fill in the same forms twice, somewhat ironic."
"If we are asked the same questions over and over again by different people, without describing how the questioners are talking to each other as well as to us, it’s hard to feel that the process isn’t just contributing to the overly burdensome bureaucracy that these new exercises are seeking to eliminate," he added.
'Wat sort of advice would help you..?'
Further Elkins lambasts the poor grammar used throughout the documentation: "The website asks people to consider questions such as 'wat (sic) sort of advice would help you run an event without worrying about whether it meets e.g. health and safety rules?' - Yes, that’s the actual wording -, and to give examples of 'any really good guidance or best practice you might have come across in setting up or running events," he criticises.
Three days after its launch the consultation, which allows instant online responses, has received six responses. Sue Beer, Compact officer for Community Action South & East Kent, said the consultation period was too short:
"Six weeks is not enough time for me to include your consultation in our monthly cycle of newsletters and to ensure interested persons from amongst our members respond in time.
"I applaud the fact that you are asking for a wide range of responses but this short period means you are ignoring your own governments recommendations," she said.
Other responses to the consultation highlight a lack of consistency across local authorities in their enforcement of rules and regulations as a problem in hosting volunteer-led events; burdensome health and safety regulations and a lack of understanding over Councils' role in regulation.