In a previous posting I expressed concern about the announcement of policy decisions before consultations had been closed (see “A failure to consult”, 21st February 2011). A new report, Responsible reform, criticises the consultation on Personal Independence Payment because the government has misrepresented the responses. The authors have mainly counted the responses, which is not necessarily a valid criticism – consultations are not numerically representative, and large umbrella organisations cannot sensibly be counted in the same way as individuals submitting standard responses. However, the overwhelming opposition to the reforms is well conveyed by the quotations.
This contrasts with the government’s response to the consultation, which suggests broad support for the principles even if there are differences on specifics. Responsible Reform thinks the government’s response is misleading, and it is hard not to agree. The report cites a standard legal principle: “once a public body decides to consult it has to do so properly.”