Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

The Right to Challenge was introduced by the government to make it easier for voluntary and community groups or council employees to bid to run council services.

Portsmouth City Council must consider expressions of interest submitted under Community Right to Challenge and, where we accept them, run a procurement exercise for the service which anyone can compete in. So, rather than a 'right to run' a public service, it is a 'right to compete' in a procurement exercise.

The following groups are all eligible to express an interest in bidding to run a particular Portsmouth City Council service:

  • a body of persons or a trust which is established for charitable purposes only
  • a parish council
  • two or more employees of the relevant authority, or
  • any other person or body specified by the Secretary of State by regulations
  • voluntary body, where activities are not carried out for profit; any surplus is used for the purposes of its activities or invested in the community
  • community body, where activities are primarily for the benefit of the local community.

The terms voluntary and community bodies cover a wide range of civil society organisations, not a public or local authority. The term reflects the characteristics of such bodies rather than their organisational structure, to allow flexibility to accommodate future forms of civil society organisation.

The definition includes but is not limited to:

  • community benefit societies (a type of industrial and provident society)
  • co-operatives whose activities are primarily for the benefit of the community (another type of industrial and provident society)
  • community interest companies;
  • charitable incorporated organisations
  • other incorporated forms of body such as companies limited by guarantee or shares where the company's Memorandum or Articles of Association state that the company's objects are in the interest of the community, rather than to make a profit for shareholders. provides more information on regulations and guidance for Right to Challenge.

Submitting an expression of interest is the first formal step in using the Right to Challenge. You can download the Community Right to Challenge expressions of interest template in the Associated documents box below. 

The form requests all information that an expressions of interest should include, and also requests additional information that will help the council assess if your expressions of interest is sustainable. Email completed forms to

We will specify the maximum period that it will take to notify you of our decision on your expression of interest. Different periods may be set for different cases depending on their complexity. We will also notify you of this time period in writing within 30 days after the close of the expression of interest window.

Expressions of interest submitted as part of Community Right to Challenge are considered by Portsmouth City Council Strategic directors and other council members.

Whatever the outcome, we notify the groups who have submitted an expression of interest of the decision, and update the Expression of Interest Register to show the outcome of the process.

The decision could be: 


The group submitting the expression of interest has presented a strong case that they could provide the relevant service. The council will then run a procurement exercise to find the best provider.

Accept with modifications

We may ask for an expression of interest to be modified, if we believe we would otherwise reject it. If agreement cannot be reached, we may reject the expression of interest.


If we reject an expression of interest, we will publish the decision and the reasons for that decision online. The government sets out a series of reasons why an expression of interest can be rejected:

  1. Expression of interest does not comply with any of the requirements specified in the Act or in regulations
  2. Relevant body provides information in the expression of interest which the relevant authority considers to be inadequate or inaccurate
  3. The relevant authority considers, based on the information in the expression of interest, that the relevant body or, where applicable
    a) any member of the consortium of which it is a part, or
    b) any sub-contractor referred to in the expression of interest
    is not suitable to provide or assist in providing the relevant service.
  4. Expression of interest relates to a relevant service where a decision, made in writing, has been taken by the relevant authority to stop providing that service
  5. Expression of interest relates to a relevant service
    a) provided in whole or part by, or on behalf of, the relevant authority to persons who are also in receipt of a service provided or arranged by an NHS body which is integrated with the relevant service, and
    b) continued integration of such services is, in the opinion of the relevant authority, critical to the wellbeing of those persons
  6. Relevant service is already the subject of a procurement exercise
  7. Relevant authority and a third party have entered into negotiations for provision of the service, where negotiations are at least in part inducted in writing
  8. Relevant authority has published its intention to consider the provision of the relevant service by a body that two or more specified employees of that authority propose to establish
  9. Relevant authority considers that the expression of interest is frivolous or vexatious
  10. Relevant authority considers that acceptance of the expression of interest is likely to lead to contravention of an enactment or other rule of law or a breach of statutory duty.

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