Thank you for inviting me today You’ve all heard about the Prime Minister’s ambition for a Big Society. You’ve also no doubt heard about some of its signature policies: Free Schools, Community Organisers, Rights to Buy and Challenge You may have also heard that this is about a new way of organising our country. Decentralising power to individuals, communities, local government. Generally giving people the power to do things their way. Today I’d like to answer three questions: What does decentralisation and localism mean? How is power going to be decentralised to the local level What are local people and communities going to be able to do? [Note: the pictures are of Birmingham Town Hall, your local bobby, the planned site of the West London Free School, and the Wooten Community Shop]
Decentralisation and localism is taking place in the context of the largest deficit reduction since WW2 Need to appreciate that the government is determined to decentralise even as it cuts the deficit Indeed the two things are intrinsically linked Three priorities for government Generating growth Big Society Implementation of reforms Decentralisation and localism underpin all three of these priorities e.g. freedom from red tape, giving people control, opening up public services to competition [Note: the hospital is University College London Hospital, the middle picture is from the East Riding, and the engine is Rolls Royce]
Basically this is all about front line professionals and local authorities being able to be more responsive.. .. In turn also facilitating a more responsive approach from local people and communties CENTRALISATION HAS FAILED Not created the excellence in services that the public deserves Fundamental social problems such as in inequality and youth unemployment have not been solved Public trust in our democratic institutions has been undermined.
My Minister, Greg Clark, has developed the six essential actions for decentralisation . These are… The first two actions are the most fundamental , because decentralisation can’t get started without them Action 1: Remove unnecessary legislation, targets and central prescription , and strip away the burdens and barriers which hold back local services and institutions Action 2: Remove obstacles to community action, create rights to take action and unlock the potential of communities and create the conditions where civic participation becomes the norm The next two actions provide the resources and the freedom of choice needed to sustain progress on decentralisation Action 3: Provide freedoms for local leaders to pool and align budgets , provide the opportunity for individuals to control and influence budgets, and real power for communities has to include control and influence over funding Action 4: Open up opportunities for new suppliers to provide public services , and introduce competition in public services to improve quality, stimulate innovation, widen choice and drive-up efficiency The final two actions complete the picture by enabling local people to take complete control of the process of decentralisation as it affects them in their communities Action 5: Ensure that information is abundant , accessible and comparable , and people can shape services and challenge service providers to do better Action 6: Give citizens the power of individual choice , where this is not feasible, strengthen collective accountability, and create the conditions where people and communities have a genuine voice, choice or exit
Local Government Resource Review The Government is committed to providing effective incentives for local authorities to drive forward economic growth, and allowing them to break free from dependency on central government funding. The Local Government Resource Review which is considering options to enable councils to retain locally raised business rates, will be setting out it proposal shortly for consultation. It will also consider how to manage the distributional impacts of any new arrangement whilst continuing to support those councils who are more deprived. We will ensure that appropriate protections are put in place for businesses. We are clear that businesses should not be subject to locally imposed increases in the burden of taxation that they do not support We will introduce Tax Increment Financing (TIF) powers, allowing councils to fund key infrastructure projects by borrowing against future in business rates. TIF and the retention of business rates will be introduced through the forthcoming Local Government Finance bill. Transparency Transparency is the foundation of accountability. The taxpayer has a right to see how their money is spent. In this fiscal climate the need to cut waste is extremely important and every penny needs to be accounted for. The majority of local authorities are now publishing their spend data on-line. LA are publishing senior official salaries, councillor expenses and allowances, contracts and tenders. Non domestic rates – Enables local government to be more entrepreneurial and attract keep local business. Allow LA to grant discretionary business rates. Simplifies business rate relief Gives affected businesses greater say in rates supplements Cancels certain backdated business rates.
That’s what the government wants to achieve, why its decentralising, and how its going about it. But what does it mean for communities up and down the country… These are the specific new powers communities will be getting. The Localism Bill is putting these all into affect
[Note: the picture is of Hudswell Community Pub, and or Arrundel in Sussex which is a Neighbourhood Planning Vanguard]
How will it work? Services can be challenged, not functions. Bill provides for all services to be challenged, although have power to exempt. Relevant bodies all have links to the community – whether they are members of it, live or work there or already provide services to them. Provides mechanism for implementing commitment in coalition agreement to give local people the right to bid to take over running services they deliver. Bill enables LAs to set window for submission of EOIs, so can synchronise consideration with commissioning cycles for services and manage the flow of EOIs. County, district and London Borough councils are named in the Bill as relevant authorities, although power to extend to other public bodies. Bill provides power to specify how long LAs should take to make decision. Where LA accepts EOI, must run a procurement exercise. This needs to be appropriate and relevant to size/type of service – where Public Contracts Regulations 2006 apply will need to follow procedures for advertising, tendering and awarding set out in Regs - where do not will need to run whatever sort of procurement exercise they would at the moment. LA will also need to consider whether EOI, and how procurement exercise, can promote social, environmental and economic well being of area. Period between accepting EOI and starting procurement exercise will enable employees, where not challengers, to decide whether want to bid, and organise themselves to do so themselves to do so effectively. Will also benefit VCS. Where LA rejects EOI will need to publish reasons – transparency and accountability.
The Government plans to build on the important changes already happening in communities up and down the country to buy local assets like village shops, local pubs and so on. The bill will give the communities the chance to take the initiative, the opportunity to list an asset in advance and the time for communities to have a chance to save their valued assets. At the moment, private investors are able to make a quick bid for a community asset, before community organisations have had a chance to compete. So, we are simply levelling the playing field with private investors. For the first time, community assets that are privately owned such as shops and pubs will be able to be saved. Right… So, how does it work? It’s really very simple… Communities can identify assets and nominate them to the local authority. The local authority lists it if it is of community value When the listed asset comes up for sale, a disposal cannot be entered into until a certain length of time has passed. Providing communities MORE time to bid!!! You can find details of the consultation on the DCLG website
The Big Society Bank will play a crucial part in catalysing the development of the social investment market Bank will be capitalised from our largest banks and dormant accounts Largest UK banks injecting £200m over 2 years, starting in 2011 (funding subject to Bank’s business plan and structure) Money released from dormant accounts scheme (BBA estimate £400m). In the first year we expect up to100m to be available from mid-2011 We are working with the BIG Lottery Fund on interim arrangements that will enable investments to be made as soon as dormant accounts funds become available.
The Open Public Services White paper was published on 11 July and it set out: How the Government will improve public services. By putting choice and control in the hands of individuals and neighbourhoods, public services will become more responsive to peoples’ needs. The White Paper set out 5 principles: Wherever possible we should increase choice by giving people direct control over the services they use Power should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level Public Services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service The state’s role is to deliver fair access, fair funding and fair competition; and Public services should be accountable to users and to taxpayers. Local Authorities are the most appropriate level of government to provide many services because they combine democratic accountability with economies of scale beyond neighbourhoods and communities. the wider public sector has much to learn for local authority successes in commissioning.
OPS Next Steps From JULY –SEPTEMBER – This White paper will be followed over the summer by a wide-ranging discussion with individuals, communities, public sector staff, providers and others with an interest in how public services are delivered . NOVEMBER : The Government will set out how departments will take forward ideas to implement open public services over the rest of this Parliament in line with the principles and polices which the White Paper sets out., including proposals for legislation. From April 2012: Departments will publish regular progress reports, setting out the steps that have been taken to open up public services.
We have extended the offer to any individual, community group or council experiencing Government barriers to taking local action to contact the Department who will work with colleagues across Government to try to tackle the barrier if possible. This barrier busting offer is aligned with the Sustainable Communities Act. We have made it easier for people to ask for our help to tackle them through our online portal launched on 15 December, which also keeps log of requests received and action taken. As of 9 June the team had accepted 340 requests, 35% are about policy, legislation or regulation; 50% are local issues, about 15% want information or funding. It has been a change in the way government operates. Instead of only being focused upwards on providing advice to Ministers, Whitehall is now putting those resources at the service of communities - not only in the vanguards, but nationwide through the localism agenda and new barrier busting service. Barrier busting represents a new way of working, to put the Big Society into practice and give local communities greater power over decisions with tailored help from central Government to break down any bureaucratic barriers they encounter and help them achieve their vision of the Big Society. Barriers = Mind Sets and Cultural Behaviours. EG of shed and planning permission NFGS may wish to consider lodging a co-ordinated contribution on behalf of the people/interests they represent - say details of the 5 most common barriers experienced by people locally.
We all know the world’s most famous community organiser… The Community Organiser programme is about stimulating and supporting greater social action, especially in England’s communities that have lower levels of activity and perhaps higher levels of need. PURPOSE It encourages individuals and groups to say ‘I can do this / we can do this’. A Community Organiser talks to as many people as possible in an area, building up a rich picture of need but especially opportunities – people willing to do things to improve the quality of life locally; through small projects; through starting small businesses; through working closely with others and, when necessary, challenging them to improve the services they provide. The work supports these ‘local leaders’, linking them to other people in the same area, developing a stronger sense of identity and a vision for the future. The benefit for service providers is a more engaged community that is easier to liaise with, and that is actively working for the common good. The government will train 5,000 Community Organisers over the life-time of this parliament – 500 will be full-time and 4,500 will be part-time, working with the full-time ‘senior’ organiser. The government has appointed Locality to deliver the Community Organisers programme Locality has identified a number of kickstart areas which are ‘ready to go’. Community organisations in these areas have committed to recruiting organisers and to ‘hosting’ them. The organisers will have access to facilities, other groups and charities, mentoring and support (through a well-established national network) and financial resources. The programme will begin in eleven ‘kick-start’ organisations – Cumbria, Manchester (x2), Hull, East Anglia, Birmingham, Luton, Bristol, London (x2) and Cornwall. Community Organisers will undergo a one year training programme. Senior and mid-level organisers will then work together in communities
Some non-green space egs to help give you an idea of the broader picture of the sort of initiatives going on.. Derbyshire has got its first new swimming pool for 25 years thanks to the actions of some community minded locals. Gayton pool opened in January 2011 after residents in Littleover campaigned to keep their local pool open. The result was a new £1 million pool which has enabled local residents and children to benefit from a range of swimming lessons. The success of Gayton pool demonstrates what can happen when communities come together and take over the running of a service from the local authority. The Localism Bill will give communities the right to challenge their council on decisions that directly affect them and enable local residents to take charge of their community to run services themselves.
Some more typical themes here.. And of course there are very many excellent green space egs through Green Flag Award, organisations such as GreenSpace, the FCFCG and many others represented on GreenLINK Talk about ‘How To’
1. Localising Power, Empowering Citizens, Building Communities
2. Three questions <ul><li>What does decentralisation, localism, and the Big Society mean? </li></ul><ul><li>How is power going to be decentralised to the local level? </li></ul><ul><li>What are local people and communities going to be able to do? </li></ul>
3. The big picture <ul><li>The Prime Minister has been clear that the government has three priorities </li></ul>Creating the Big Society Implementing reforms Generating growth Voluntary and philanthropic action Community empowerment Public service reform
4. Localism, Decentralisation, Big Society Localism Is the ethos… Doing everything at the lowest possible level and only involving central government if absolutely necessary Decentralisation Is the process… Giving away power to individuals, professionals, communities and local institutions Big Society Is the vision… <ul><ul><li>A society where people, neighbourhoods and communities have more power and responsibility and use it to create better services and outcomes </li></ul></ul>
5. Why Decentralisation? People and communities have greater control over the services in their locality Diversity in local approaches releases innovation in public services – speed and resilience People can hold local services and institutions to account more effectively than central Government Front line professionals respond to local preferences, with fewer constraints from the centre
6. The six essential decentralisation actions Big Government Big Society 4. Diversify the supply of public services 5. Open up government to public scrutiny 3. Increase local control of public finance 6. Strengthen accountability to local people 2. Empower communities to do things their way 1. Lift the burden of bureaucracy
7. Action taken and underway <ul><li>Lift the burden of bureaucracy </li></ul><ul><li>Red Tape Challenge </li></ul><ul><li>CAA/LAA/Audit Commission </li></ul><ul><li>Regional strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Standards Board </li></ul><ul><li>Empower communities to do things their way </li></ul><ul><li>General Power of Competence </li></ul><ul><li>Neighbourhood Plans </li></ul><ul><li>Community Right to Buy </li></ul><ul><li>Increase local control of public finance </li></ul><ul><li>Removal of ring-fencing </li></ul><ul><li>LG Resources Review </li></ul><ul><li>Community budgets </li></ul><ul><li>Social Fund </li></ul><ul><li>Diversify the supply of public services </li></ul><ul><li>Academies and Free schools </li></ul><ul><li>Right to challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Mutuals </li></ul><ul><li>GP Commissioning </li></ul><ul><li>Open up government to public scrutiny </li></ul><ul><li>Transparent crime data </li></ul><ul><li>DCLG and LAs spend data </li></ul><ul><li>Single Data List </li></ul><ul><li>SCS salary data </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthen accountability to local people </li></ul><ul><li>Health and Wellbeing Boards </li></ul><ul><li>Police and Crime Commissioners </li></ul><ul><li>Directly elected mayors </li></ul>
8. Specific new powers for communities Community Right to Challenge Community Right to Buy General Power of Competence (including parishes) Local Referendums Neighbourhood Planning Council Tax Referendums Community Budgets Community Right to Build Free Schools Community Organisers Big Society Bank
9. The difference for local communities <ul><li>More opportunities for people to get involved in their local communities </li></ul><ul><li>Citizens able to see how money is being spent in their neighbourhood. Information and influence to set priorities, participate in key decisions and co-design services </li></ul><ul><li>Easier for citizens to take over public buildings so they have the space to come together and share ideas </li></ul>Citizens able to challenge existing services where they see opportunities for improving services and value for money Local people and communities have greater ability to determine the shape of the places in which they live Local institutions freed up from unnecessary burdens and control and enabling them to support grassroots action
10. A powerful Right to Challenge <ul><li>Public bodies already contract out services – local government spends £42 billion a year on contracts for goods and services </li></ul><ul><li>Many public bodies already make good use of the talents of voluntary and community bodies, but in some areas good ideas fall on deaf ears – only 2% of spend on public services goes to the VCS </li></ul><ul><li>The Right hands the initiative to communities with good ideas about how services can be run differently or better, ensures these ideas get a fair hearing, and gives them the time they may need to prepare effective bids to run the service </li></ul>How does it work? 1. Relevant services are subject to challenge 2. Expression of interest from VCS, charity, parish, or staff 3. Relevant authority reaches a decision on the expression of interest 4. Authority either accepts, or accepts with modification and then undertakes a procurement exercise, or rejects and a reason for rejection published
11. A new Community Right to Buy <ul><li>The Community Right to Buy is a radical new community right </li></ul><ul><li>The aim is to give communities a fair chance to bid to take over land and buildings that are important to them </li></ul><ul><li>This will help local communities to save important community assets, tackle social need and build up resources in their neighbourhood </li></ul>1. Communities identify assets of community value 3. Communities get time and support to bid for assets 2. Local authorities hold and control a list of assets of community value How does it work? 4. More communities take control of local assets
12. Big Society Bank <ul><li>The Government has committed to setting up a Big Society Bank to give social enterprises, charities and voluntary organisations access to greater resources. </li></ul><ul><li>The Big Society Bank will play a crucial part in catalysing the development of the social investment market </li></ul><ul><li>Bank will be capitalised from our largest banks and dormant accounts </li></ul>Independent A wholesaler Transparent Self-sufficient <ul><li>Government is currently working to secure the state aid approvals that we need to direct dormant accounts money to an independent Big Society Bank. </li></ul><ul><li>Big Society Bank will be: </li></ul>
13. Open Public Services <ul><li>The Open Services White Paper 5 principles: </li></ul><ul><li>Wherever possible we should increase choice by giving people direct control over the services they use </li></ul><ul><li>Power should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level </li></ul><ul><li>Public Services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service </li></ul><ul><li>The state’s role is to deliver fair access, fair funding and fair competition; and </li></ul><ul><li>Public services should be accountable to users and to taxpayers. </li></ul>
14. Open Public Services: Next Steps July – September 2011: Discussions with partners and others on delivery of public services November 2011: The Government will set out how departments will take forward ideas to implement open public services From April 2012: Departments will publish regular progress reports. Feeding into Open Public Services www.openpublicservices.cabinetoffice.gov.uk
15. Breaking down the barriers <ul><li>Government has extended an offer to any individual, community group or council experiencing government barriers to taking local action to contact DCLG in writing, over the phone, or online </li></ul><ul><li>DCLG then works with colleagues across Government to try to tackle the barrier if possible </li></ul><ul><li>As of 9 June the team had 340 requests, 35% are about policy, legislation or regulation; 50% are local issues, about 15% want information or funding </li></ul><ul><li>The barrier to action imposed by Criminal Record checks has been raised a number of times </li></ul><ul><li>Government recognised this and has responded with a review addressing the issues raised, streamlining the procedure, and enabling transferability in the same sector </li></ul><ul><li>Barrier busting is part of a wider systemic change in the way government operates. Instead of only being focused upwards on providing advice to Ministers, Whitehall is now putting those resources at the service of communities </li></ul>
16. Community Organisers <ul><li>The Community Organiser programme is about stimulating and supporting greater social action, especially in England’s communities that have lower levels of activity. It encourages individuals and groups to say ‘I can do this / we can do this’ </li></ul><ul><li>It is about people willing to do things to improve the quality of life locally through small projects, starting small businesses, working closely with others, and challenging services </li></ul><ul><li>The government is training 5,000 Community Organisers </li></ul>How does it work? 1. Government has appointed Locality to train and support the organisers 2. Locality has identified a number of kickstart areas which are ‘ready to go’ 3. Community Organisers will undergo a one year training programme. 4. Community Organisers work in communities
17. Big Society in Action: Newant Initiative Trust take over community centre in South West Locals take over the running of the town’s community centre Gayton Swimming Pool A £1m community swimming pool opened in January 2011, rebuilt after a campaign by locals. Neighbourhood planning in Bermondsey Southwark Council working with community to develop two Neighbourhood Plans in adjoining Bankside and Bermondsey that will provide more homes, improve housing conditions and bring more employment. Community Matters Partnership in Hampshire Social Enterprise that encourages local corporate companies to work together to better their local communities.
18. Big Society in Action: Darnall Post Office in Sheffield Darnall Post Office is the first in the country to be run by a charity after the original facility closed in 2009. Kirdford Community Shop A community owned and managed village shop and community space, where all profits go back to the benefit of the community. It was awarded the sought-after title of Daily Telegraph Best Corner/Village Shop in Britain. Superfast broadband in Eden Parishes across the Eden Valley are to be the first rural communities in England to benefit from superfast broadband thanks to work led by local residents in partnership with Broadband UK, Cumbria County Council and DCLG. Community refuse to call time on their local – Local pub ‘George and Dragon ’ When their local pub closed three years ago, residents got together to form a co-operative. Members sought local investment, and about 100 members of the community put up funds that enabled them to buy the pub.
19. This is only the beginning <ul><li>Localism, Decentralisation, and the Big Society underpin everything the government stands for and its approach to policy making </li></ul><ul><li>The government is putting in place a number of specific new powers for communities that over the next couple of years will begin to make a real difference </li></ul><ul><li>What happens next and the success of these powers is up to people taking these opportunities. </li></ul>