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Following on from Danny Kruger MP’s landmark report to government ‘Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant’ this session will explore the practicalities of empowering communities to play a bigger role in local decision-making, and how this can improve social and economic outcomes for local residents. How can local and central government help ensure that communities are at the centre of a new economic and social model as we build back better post-COVID19 – and how can communities acquire the sort of capacity, confidence and access to funding that is often essential to putting communities in control?

Our speakers 

  • Danny Kruger MP, Conservative MP for Devizes
    The Prime Minster Boris Johnson recently commissioned Danny Kruger MP, an APPG member, to explore how we can sustain the resurgence of community spirit that prevailed during the COVID-19 lockdown. In response, Danny’s radical and far-reaching report, Levelling Up Our Communities, provides key recommendations on how to boost community action up and down the country.
    Watch Danny’s presentation to the APPG
  • Adam Lent, Chief Executive, New Local
    Adam has researched and written extensively on communities in control as Chief Executive of New Local (formerly the New Local Government Network) – a think-tank and peer-learning network seeking to deliver a community power vision for public services, society and the wider economy.
    Watch Adam’s presentation to the APPG
  • Angie Wright, Chief Officer, B inspired 
    B inspired is a neighbourhood-based charity in Braunstone, Leicester. Angie’s grassroots experience of working to empower local residents to enact positive change in their neighbourhoods will illuminate the discussion on what can be done to support those in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods going forward.
    Watch Angie’s presentation to the APPG

Briefing

APPG Session 4 briefing  
This briefing provides members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods with an overview of work on community power and control. Drawing on the latest research, it explores how communities can play a bigger role in local decision-making, and how this can improve social and economic outcomes for residents. 

Context

  • Community responses to COVID-19: the role and contribution of community-led infrastructure. Third Sector Research Centre (2020). Drawing on findings from across 26 study areas, this latest briefing from TSRC examines the role that community-led infrastructure plays in enabling communities to respond to crises generally, as well as particularly in relation to the how it has supported them to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.
  • Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant. Danny Kruger MP (2020). Having been asked by PM Boris Johnson to look into how the community spirit witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown can be sustained, Danny Kruger calls for a ‘new social covenant’ designed to empower local communities. This would involve a genuine transfer of power to residents, which Kruger argues could be achieved via a set of recommendations provided on Power, People and Place. One key proposal is a ‘Levelling Up Communities Fund’, which, echoing calls for a Community Wealth Fund, would harness £2bn from dormant assets to invest in the most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods in the UK.
  • Developing potential. Local Trust (2020). In response to the frequent imbalance of power between those leading regeneration projects and the communities it affects, this report looks to establish principles and approaches through which communities can be given greater influence and decision-making over local development. It makes four recommendations to those with power: include residents as equal partners; involve residents in governance; provide social infrastructure and; to adopt place-focused approaches.
  • Renewing neighbourhood democracy: creating powerful communities. Localis (2020). This report looks at initiatives to increase the power of communities and strengthen neighbourhood-level democracy. Using Arnstein’s (1969) ‘ladder of participation’, it explores how we can move beyond weak mechanisms of civic participation to ensure a genuine transfer of power and resources to communities. Ahead of the forthcoming Local Recovery and Devolution White Paper, it considers the principle of subsidiarity, or double devolution, and how it can be implemented as a mechanism to increase the autonomy and participation of communities.
  • Stronger than anyone thought: communities responding to COVID-19. Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC), Sheffield Hallam University. This report is from the first research phase conducted by TSRC into the responses of 26 communities in England to the COVID-19 crisis. It highlights the key role played by rich and established community-led infrastructure in underpinning the ability of communities to develop an effective response, suggesting that those neighbourhoods without access to such infrastructure have been less equipped to respond.
  • Think big, act small: Ostrom’s radical vision for community power. New Local (2020). Distilling insights from the work of Nobel prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom, this report produces a set of core conditions for a community power agenda. These include: Locality, that decision making systems be designed for specific places; Autonomy, to ensure that the rights of communities to create and run local systems are respected; and Diversity, where acknowledgement of the differences of each community fosters varied solutions to local problems.
  • Achieving local economic change: what works? Cambridge Centre for Housing, Planning and Research, Cambridge University (2019). An in-depth analysis of major local area initiatives undertaken over the last forty years, this report identifies characteristics that improved the chances of better social and economic outcomes for participants. It found that programmes which: focused investment on a small geographical area of between 3,000-10,000 residents; handed control of decisions, design and resources to local people; adapted bespoke approaches, rooted in each area’s particular characteristics and; guaranteed long-term, consistent commitment over 10 to 15 years, were found to be more likely to deliver benefits for communities. 
  • The community paradigm: why public services need radical change and how it can be achieved. New Local (2019). This report highlights that prevailing ‘State’ and ‘Market’ paradigms for the design and delivery of public services have left people across the country feeling like passive clients rather than active participants in their local areas. It calls for a new and radical shift towards a ‘Community Paradigm’, with increased civic participation and greater collective responsibility for improving neighbourhood outcomes. The authors argue that this will only be achieved when a process of genuine devolution of both power and resources to communities is undertaken.
  • Our assets, our future: the economics, outcomes and sustainability of assets in community ownership. Power to Change (2019). This project captures the national picture when it comes to community asset ownership, including an assessment of their financial health and economic impact. It reveals that the community ownership sector is growing fast, but that deprived areas have the lowest concentration of assets owned by the community. It therefore suggests the need for targeted support and resources to enable those communities which suffer from a combination of social and economic deprivation to take ownership of local assets.
  • People power: findings from the commission on the future of localism. Locality (2018). In 2017, Locality and Power to Change established the Commission on the Future of Localism to look at how to reinvigorate the localism agenda and unlock the power of communities. This report is a summary of the Commission’s main findings, highlighting four domains of localism – institutions, powers, relationships and community capacity – that are required to harness the power of communities and build lasting change.

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