Give communities more power through devolution, report urges

Localis has said that ministers must make full use of the forthcoming Local Recovery and Devolution White Paper to give communities the power and resources they need to build back a better society.

The think tank’s report calls on central government to facilitate a clear pathway for communities to take control over local services, assets and social infrastructure.

The Renewing Neighbourhood  Democracy – Creating Powerful Communities report argues that government should enshrine the rights of communities to self-organise by creating ‘pop up parishes’ and set local spending choices at neighbourhood level through ‘people’s budgets’.

Other key report recommendations for strengthening communities to build back better at hyperlocal level include: establishing a £2 billion Community Wealth Fund to specifically target the social and civic infrastructure of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods across the country; giving local councils a statutory role for managing double devolution and community relations; and launching an urgent government review to renew and extend financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in a manner similar to the Small Business Grant fund to respond to the pandemic, particularly as the reintroduction of lockdown measures escalates.

Jonathan Werran, chief executive of Localis, said: “If this is to be a teachable moment, then we must place greater trust in our communities to provide the impetus for social renewal and economic recovery. This must mean a genuine commitment from government for double devolution under which communities receive full powers and support to develop greater genuine autonomy and assume control for scripting their own local destinies.”