The Office for Civil Society (OCS) is leading government’s work on the Big Society. It is working with ministers, Number 10 and departments across Government to translate the Big Society vision into practical policies and to deliver a radical change in the relationship between citizen and state. I am one of 9 policy managers in the Local Intelligence Team, a newly recruited team with a member in each of the former GO regions (in the South West myself and Margaret Firth are doing the job on a job share basis). Our role is to provide a 2 way communication channel on Big Society between localities and the Office for Civil Society. We aim to develop a good understanding of where good practice exists in local authority areas, feeding this back to OCS to inform and influence policy and programmes. Each of us are twinned with a policy team in OCS. I am twinned with the Behavioural Insights Team, also known as the ‘nudge’ team which considers how different incentives can influence people to change their behaviour. Margaret is twinned with the Big Society policy and analysis Team, which is at the hear of Big Society policy.
David Cameron is passionate about the Big Society. On 14 th February he re-launched the Big Society and made it clear that the Government’s duty was to sort out the budget deficit and build economic growth but that his personal mission is social recovery as well as economic recovery. His view is that we need social recovery to mend the broken society and that this is what the Big Society is about. And few people disagree with the fundamental ideology of the Big Society – it makes sense and I am sure that all of the people in this room are, and have been involved in delivering the big Society for many years.
I am going to talk about this is more detail later in my presentation, but the key element of the Big Society that stands out for me is a genuine Government commitment to making it easier for people to have a say over what happens in their communities and how services are delivered. I am going to explain a little about the Green and White Papers and legislation which the Government has published to make the changes it wants to see a practical reality.
The Big Society is about putting more power into people’s hands – it is a massive transfer of power from Whitehall to local communities. In particular, it is about: Promoting Social Action Empowering Communities Opening Up Public Services
There is a whole new set of terminology which comes with the Big Society. Localism and Decentralisation are very much the focus of attention of the Department for Communities and Local Government. The mantra of Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State is localism, localism, localism. He wants everything to be delivered at the lowest possible level, and is cutting his own Department back by 40%. Eric Pickles focus is on stripping away as much of the regulation and bureaucracy in the system as possible, and he has abolished the Government Offices, the Audit Commission and the regional Development Agencies with them the Comprehensive Area Assessment and all Regional Strategies. The focus on decentralisation is about moving power to individuals and communities, and away from Central and to some extent Local Government. I will touch on the Localism Bill in more detail later, but this includes, for example, provision for planning reform so that neighbourhoods can draw up their own plans for development, and the Community Rights to Challenge and to Buy. And the Big Society is the vision where people use the powers and responsibilities granted to them by virtue of localism and decentralisation to create better services and outcomes.
‘ Decentralisation’ as a word is easy to pay lip service to. This diagram describes the six essential actions that have the power to turn words into reality. The first two actions are the most fundamental, because decentralisation can’t get started without them. They are to: Lift the burden of bureaucracy – by removing the cost and control of unnecessary red tape and regulation, whose effect is to restrict local action; and Empower communities to do things their way – by creating rights for people to get involved with, and direct the development of, their communities. The next two actions provide the resources and the freedom of choice needed to sustain progress on decentralisation. They are to: Increase local control of public finance – so that more of the decisions over how public money is spent and raised can be taken within communities; and Diversify the supply of public services – by ending public sector monopolies, ensuring a level playing field for all suppliers, giving people more choice and a better standard of service. 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. They are to: Open up government to public scrutiny – by releasing government information into the public domain, so that people can know how their money is spent, how it is used and to what effect; and Strengthen accountability to local people – by giving every citizen the power to change the services provided to them through participation, choice or the ballot box.
Empowerment Communities is all about freeing local communities from central government diktat: There has been a great deal of discussion in the media about Free Schools , and parents in many parts of the country have put together business plans to set up free schools in their area. A number are existing state schools threatened with closure or independent schools struggling financially and the creation of Free School would enable these to survive. 40 schools across the country have now been approved to business case stage. Only two of these are in the South West - one is in Bristol and the other is here in Cornwall - St Michael’s Small School in Truro. The Decentralisation and Localism Bill was laid before Parliament in December 2010, and completed Commons Committee on 10 th March , it will be enacted by the end of 2011. It contains a number of important elements: Localism Bill Abolition – of Regional Strategies (including the Regional Spatial Strategy) and the Standards Board, which governed the behaviour of elected councillors. Empowerment – Neighbourhood plans will radically reform the planning system to give local people new rights to shape the development of the communities in which they live. Financial Transparency – all Central Departments and Local Authorities now have to publish all items of expenditure over £500. All public sector bodies must show greater transparency on contracts, salaries and staffing. Strengthening Accountability to local people through Elected Mayors In 12 cities initially subject to referendums) and local referendums, which will give local residents the power to instigate via petition local referendums on any local issue.
The National Citizen Service will help build more cohesive, responsible and engaged society by bringing 16 year olds from different backgrounds together in a residential and home-based programme of activity and service during the summer. There will be two years of NCS pilots. 12 organisations have already been appointed to run the 2011 National Citizen Service pilots , reaching over 10,000 16 year olds in England. The South West, we would ask you to highlight these pilots to organisations working with young people and encourage them to become involved – www.direct.gov.uk/nationalcitizensservice or www.facebook.com/ncs . Partners for the 2012 pilots are currently being appointed. The Community Organisers Programme is about catalysing community action at a neighbourhood level. The Government will train 5,000 Community Organisers over the lifetime of this Parliament. 500 will be trained and given £20,000 bursaries for the first year and a further 4500 will be part time and voluntary organisers. The Government has appointed Locality as the National Partner to develop, implement and manage the programme I’m sure we’ll here more from Ruth (Townsley from Locality) shortly, and it has identified 10 Kickstart areas which are ‘ready to go’, which include Penwith Community Development Trust in Cornwall, and Barton Hill in Bristol. Regenerate will provide much of the training.
Community First will encourage more social action by new and existing neighbourhood groups. The fund will target communities with high levels of deprivation and low levels of social capital. The programme will consist of two elements: A Neighbourhood Matched Fund Programme will provide financial support for community-led projects in targeted neighbourhoods in England with significant deprivation and low social capital. The Big Society Endowment Match Challenge will be made available throughout England, with a clear priority to build local endowments. A contract to deliver these will be awarded in June. The Giving White Paper – published yesterday (23 May 2011) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Following consultation responses to the Supporting a Stronger Civil Society consultation , which ended in January, responses are being reviewed, and as part of the development of proposals , the Office for Civil Society will be engaging in detailed discussions with interested stakeholders. The consultation: recognised the role of infrastructure organisations in providing this support; tested the principle of putting more power in the hands of ‘frontline’ civil society organisations to determine their own support needs; asked how local networks of business and peer-to-peer support could best be unlocked and developed; asked for views on current web provision of information of signposting, and future government support. Volunteering – the Government announced the outcome of 2 reviews on vetting and barring on 11 February. The main recommendations included: Substantially reducing the coverage of the scheme to individuals that have close and regular contact with vulnerable groups. Placing a greater onus on employers and volunteer involving organisations to decide when to carry out Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks. The Big Society Bank will not invest directly in frontline organisations – instead it will operate at a wholesale level through social investment intermediaries to catalyse growth in the social investment market, encouraging mainstream investors to invest in social change and broadening the finance options open to the sector. It will be 100% funded by money from dormant bank accounts. Between £60 and £100m will be released in 2011, but it will take longer for the bank to be fully operational. An example of this could be social investment bonds – which have recently been piloted in Peterborough Prison to fund a payment-by-results project to stop re-offending. Public bodies agree to pay third sector organisations for measurable results, such as reducing drug use or re-offending rates. The amount paid depends on the results. Once the terms are agreed, voluntary organisations use that contract to attract project funding from investors. If the project succeeds, the investors profit; if it fails, they lose.
The Localism and Decentralisation Bill introduces the Community Right to Buy, which gives communities power to save local assets threatened with closure by allowing tem to bid for ownership and management of community assets. Under the Community Right to Challenge voluntary and community groups, parish councils and local authority staff will be able to challenge to take over the running of local public services. Mutuals are employee led public sector organisations taking on work traditionally delivered by the mainstream public sector. There are 3 elements to the mutuals work: A Mutuals Taskforce which will convene key policymakers and experts to drive the changes to policy and process necessary across Whitehall to address the issues that mutuals face; The Pathfinder Programme launched in August 2010. More than twenty groups of public service employees have joined, representing areas from across the public sector: health, education, social care, children’s and youth services and housing. The South West pathfinder is in Swindon where Community health and adult social services are being integrated into a co-operative. The Mutuals Support Programme is a fund of more than £10m, dedicated to supporting some of the most promising and innovative mutuals so that they reach the point of investment readiness. The Compact is a longstanding agreement that sets out shared commitments and lays the foundation for effective partnership working between government and civil society organisations. The renewed Compact is a more streamlined and focused document than its predecessor, and is more attuned to the Coalition’s and CSOs’ priorities. It will play a crucial part in improving the partnership between the Government and civil society organisations, for the benefit of citizens and communities.
Measuring Social Value and Social Return on Investment (SROI) - Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a framework which can be used by the VCSE sector for measuring and accounting for a much broader concept of value by incorporating social, environmental and economic costs and benefits. It explores a wider sense of value than is sometimes captured in contracts, and is specifically designed to measure value which may otherwise not get taken into account. The Measuring Social Value project (which will run until March 2011) is moving SROI into the mainstream, by putting together a package of support, to make it cheaper and easier to understand. Commissioning Green paper – aims to progresses the Coalition’s commitment to enable mutuals, co-operatives, charities and social enterprises to have a much greater involvement in the running of public services. It asked a number of questions including asking how Government could create new opportunities for civil society organisations to deliver and make existing markets more accessible. The responses will feed into the Opening Public Services White paper which will be published later this year. Resolving Multiple Disadvantage – this is a cross sector project to increase the opportunities and outcomes for adults facing multiple disadvantage, by championing and supporting effective and efficient local practice. It has 3 main strands: Local Inclusion Labs : in March 2011 10 local areas were selected to work with a range of experts and partners for six months to improve outcomes for multiply disadvantaged adults in their area. Two areas were chosen in the South West: Bristol’s project focuses on identifying and preventing hidden homelessness, and Plymouth’s project is about engaging NEETs and unemployed 45s in training and employment opportunities. Community of practice : an online resource will be launched in March 2011 to enable a wide range of partners to share learning and ideas on improving outcomes for multiply disadvantaged adults. Materials to support implementation : information will be co-produced with partners to support local areas in improving outcomes for multiply disadvantaged adults e.g. business case; principles and examples of successful practice.
Local Integrated Services are an example of Community Budgets where partners including VCSE organisations and local citizens co-design, commission and deliver services that effectively meet needs. The Cabinet Office is working with 9 areas to explore the LIS concept. These are: Kingston on Thames, Warrington, Cheshire West and Chester, Tameside, Blackburn with Darwen, Leeds, Sheffield, Calderdale and Barnsley. LIS aims to redesign public services using co-production with communities, focusing on prevention, early intervention, and integration of services. LIS is a radical approach to service delivery – with community involvement front and centre.
Ministers believe Community Budgets will help drive down overhead costs by removing the bureaucratic financial restrictions that have created barriers, generated waste and duplication in public spending stifling local innovation. They will be able to redesign and integrate frontline services across organisations and share management functions to reduce running costs for the best local outcomes. By having one budget wrapping money and services around the needs of the vulnerable, councils and partners will be able to directly support those that need help with education, health, anti-social behaviour and housing - instead of maintaining the service organisations.
The Big Society is about moving power away from central government and giving it to local communities and individuals.The Big Society Award has been created to recognise individuals, groups or organisations that are demonstrating the Big Society in their work or activities. The award focuses upon three specific areas: Promoting social action – people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources. Empowering communities – local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others. Opening up public services – public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services. Anyone can make a nomination for an individual or group to be recognised with an award. Just fill out the nomination form and submit to the email address supplied. The form can be found at : The form is completed online via the link above or can be found at: www.number10.gov.uk/bigsocietyawards/big-society-awards-nomination-form Criteria Can you give me examples of the types of groups, individuals or organisations that the award might go to? The types of activity that the award will recognise are: - People, groups or organisations that have brought the community together for some common good. a. This could be a neighbourhood or community group, charity, residents association or an individual who brings people together in a community. People who have given substantial time and money to help others Cooperatives and/or mutuals that are delivering public services. Individuals, groups or organisations that have been catalysts to new ways of delivering public services. Public sector organisations that are leading the way in a. Partnership working/commissioning with civil society organisations and social enterprises b. Encouraging employees to give time and money. c. Engaging the public in the shaping of public services A business that is leading the way in a. Encouraging employees to give time and money. b. Partnership working with a public sector or civil society organisation to support local solutions. A local authority that is leading the way in a. Encouraging employees to give time and money. b. Partnership working with a private sector or civil society organisation in support of local solutions. c. Engaging with local people and involving them in decisions in ways that go beyond normal consultations. A social enterprise/civil society organisation that is leading the way in a. Getting communities together for some common good b. Partnership work with local or central government to find local solutions c. Delivering outstanding impact by involving volunteers The group or organisation does not have to be a registered charity or company. The winners each receive: a plaque; a signed certificate from the Prime Minister; copies of the electronic awards logos to use on their websites and publicity materials; an invitation to a twice yearly reception at No.10 Downing Street; a press release that appears on the Nunber10 website and that the Number10 staff then circulate to the local and regional press in the winner’s home area.
Big Society – one year on Renée Smith Gorringe and Margaret Firth Policy Managers – Local Intelligence Team (South West) Office for Civil Society - Cabinet Office
Big Society is... “ A country of do-ers and go-getters, where people feel they are in control of their destiny, where they trust those around them, and where they have the power to transform their lives, where nothing will stop them from pursuing their dreams. That’s the culture we need in our economy as much as our society. So is this government about more than cuts? Yes. Is the Big Society some optional extra? No. It holds the key to transforming our economy, our society, our country’s future and that’s why I will keep on championing it and keep on building it, every day that I have the privilege to lead this country”. David Cameron, 23 May 2011
Communities will have a greater say over how services are delivered so that they are more responsive and more tailored to personal needs.
It will be easier to take action on the causes we care about
It will be easier and fairer for local businesses and social enterprises to bid for contracts to run local services
What is Big Society? ? It’s a big idea; a whole approach to government – 3 core strands: Promoting Social Action Encouraging and enabling people to play a more active part in society Opening up Public Services Enable charities, social enterprises, private companies and employee-owned co-operatives to compete to offer people high quality services Empowering Communities Giving local councils and neighbourhoods more power to take decisions and shape their area
Terminology… Localism Decentralisation Big Society Is the ethos… Doing everything at the lowest possible level and only involving central government if absolutely necessary Is the process… Giving away power to individuals, professionals, communities and local institutions Is the vision…
A society where people, neighbourhoods and communities have more power and responsibility and use it to create better services and outcomes.
The six essential actions for decentralisation Big Government Big Society http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/decentralisationguide
Measuring Social Value and Social Return on Investment
- a framework for measuring and accounting for a much broader concept of value by incorporating social, environmental and economic costs and benefits.
Commissioning Green Paper – published on 6 December 2010 – Opening Public Services White paper to be published July 2011.
Resolving Multiple Disadvantage
10 Local Inclusion Labs - Bristol and Plymouth in the South west
Community of Practice
Materials to support implementation
What’s Being Done?
Local Implementation Strategy A Step Further Public services Public sector buildings Community assets – day care centre Pubs Business premises Volunteers Charity staff Private sector staff Clubs + Social activities
Community Budgets and Local Integrated Services