Never before has speaking and listening to local communities been so high on the political agenda. From April 2009 local authorities will have the duty to inform, involve and consult. How well this happens will feed directly into the new Comprehensive Area Assessment. The Empowerment Action Plan, launched by Hazel Blears, Communities’ Secretary in October 2007, aims to stimulate local Councils to encourage greater public participation as a means to improve public services. In addition, the new Place Based Survey will replace the BVPI user satisfaction survey from September 2008. This conference brought together all those who have an interest in finding out how the new legislation will affect them and how arrangements should be made. Outlining the Empowerment Action Plan and its impact on community consultation, Ben Page, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Public Affairs and Chair of Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute states that "...it is absolutely the case that the policy framework and the framework in which local authorities' performance is going to be judged does now actually pay much more attention to what people think and that's a good thing but also poses some challenges".