LOCALISM AND THE BIG SOCIETY:OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES:COMMUNITY GROUPS MAXIMISING IMPACT? Angus McCabe Third Sector Research Centre 28th January 2012
A STARTING POINT• Cameron’s Big Society “A mystery to most” (Harris Interactive Survey April: 2011)• “Big Society: it’s the only game in town”• “Forget Big Society, for community groups – grasp Localism.” (Development Agency Interviews)• “Bottom-up and community-led activities which so often bubble along under the radar are receiving new public recognition. This is in part because we are on the threshold of political change and deep economic restraint…” (Oppenheim et al., 2010: 2).
POLICY CONTEXT QUIZ 1• “It is my belief, after a century in which to tackle social injustice the state has had to take power to ensure social progress, that to tackle the social injustices that still remain the state will have to give away power.”• Who said this?• And for a bonus point: When?
‘CIVIL SOCIETY’ POLICY; CHANGE OR CONTINUITY: 1?• Key service provider• Big Society, localism – double devolution and ‘Communities in Control’ (2008)• Participatory budget setting• Asset transfer – The Quirk Review (2007)• National Citizen Service – Building Britain’s Future (2009)• Promotion of social enterprise• Social Investment Bank – Big Society Bank• Communities as ‘change agents’
‘CIVIL SOCIETY’ POLICY; CHANGE OR CONTINUITY: 2?• Continuity with a ‘new language’? From pathfinders to vanguards and kick-starts etc• ‘Freedoms’ rather than targets• De-regulation• Speed of cuts/deficit reduction strategy• Change of ‘tone’ – from ‘nudge’ to ‘push’?• From community development to social action, but………
RESPONDING TO THE NEW POLICY ENVIRONMENT• No single ‘sector’ response:• Enthusiasts• Pragmatists• ‘Bi-polar’: depending on role/positioning• Reluctant followers• ‘Ignorance’; or its not relevant to us….• Opponents• The two ‘O’s: opportunity versus opposition
THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS• Localism Act o Right to challenge o Right to buy o Right to manage• BUT o Placing localism within the welfare and NHS reform agenda…….
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR?• Voluntary sector: larger role in delivery of public services – funding assumptions?• Community sector: voice and influence – but management and responsibility?• Government: a ‘big society’ and social action: what kind of action? Other wishes…..?
THE IMPACT OF CHANGE 1: THE FORMAL ‘THIRD SECTOR’• “Policy rich: resource poor”• Tescoisation? Centralised stock transfer?• Lidlisation: public services ‘on the cheap’• Mergers and consortia or the end of solidarity? “Now I know my enemies.”• Advocacy or service delivery?• Rights versus responsibilities?
THE IMPACT OF CHANGE 2: BELOW THE RADAR• Too early to tell – but early indications:• For many below the radar groups: no impact: receive no funding/not linked to governmental policy agendas• Loss of small grants/pro bono support for groups with wellbeing agendas (pensioner groups, mental health support groups etc.)• Volunteer time• The ‘compound effect’?
THE CHALLENGES OF DELIVERING THE NEW AGENDA 1• Engagement of whom – and for what? Communities or the formal voluntary sector?• Outcome funding: payment on results• What is the payback?• The tendering process: from PQQ to ITT• Social return on investment (SROI)• Skills base: levels of complexity: a new model of capacity building?• From grants to contracts to loans and venture capital
THE CHALLENGES OF DELIVERING THE NEW AGENDA 2• Rates of community action; static over last decade; concepts of a ‘civic core’• Understanding motivations: good citizens, social citizens or angry citizens?• Public perceptions of policy shifts• Change in role at a community level: – From active citizen to big citizen – From influence to management and responsibility
THE CHALLENGES OF DELIVERING THE NEW AGENDA 3• Aspirations or assumptions around philanthropic or corporate support for the delivery of public services• Social action versus individual rights: consumerism or citizenship?• The need for a ‘new public/civil servant’: from manager to ‘storyteller, architect or bricoleur’• Local freedoms versus ‘central influence/control’ LOCALISM V HIGH SPEED 2?
THE CHALLENGES OF DELIVERING THE NEW AGENDA 4• ‘Scaling up’ or ‘replication’?• The nature of contracting: fewer and bigger?• Trickle down?• Risk averse commissioning• ‘Barrier busting’ but barriers to community activity beyond government influence?• Funding and the ‘funding gap’ between ‘old’ and ‘new’ money• The private sector role: not bio-diversity?• Other?????
FUTURE GAZING• New alliances? TRO’s, youth, Trade Unions, others• Thriving community activity ‘beyond the state’: still below the radar• Struggling groups offering services to the public but not (statutory) public services• Increasing gap between have’s and have not’s• Public perception of government, local government and the formal voluntary sector – social housing?• Freedoms versus ‘checks and balances’• Equalities……the impact of changes to Local Housing Allowance
FURTHER INTO THE FUTURE?• “I don’t want to predict what the future, say in five years, will look like for voluntary never mind community groups. There may be a leaner but more efficient and effective sector, a more entrepreneurial and business like sector – or just a leaner one. What we will see played out in some form is a profound change in the relationships between people, government and the sector.” (Development Agency Interview)
THE FINAL QUIZ• What might be wrong with the Commission on Big Society statement:• Powerful People, Responsible Society• Suggestions please………
THE ROLE OF COMMUITY ORGANISATIONS IN….• Places: providing a safe place for a group to meet• Spaces: offering spaces where different groups can come together• Faces: the people to make this hapen• Time….yes it takes time (imposed timescales)