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Community development - a different way to think about local economies

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This is a presentation given to the Local Government Information Unit's economic development learning network in London on 26 January 2010. I was asked to explore how community development and economic development are linked and the implications for economic development practitioners of a community development approach.

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Community development - a different way to think about local economies

  1. 1. Community development: a different way to think about local economies
  2. 2. It’s not just picnics in the park…
  3. 3. So what do we mean by community development? ‘ Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.’ Paulo Freire
  4. 4. It’s about having a voice - and being heard where it matters
  5. 5. A UK Government definition ‘ Community development is a set of values embodied in an occupation using certain skills and techniques to achieve particular outcomes or provide an approach used in other services or occupations.’ Department of Communities and Local Government
  6. 6. … not to be confused with empowerment? ‘ Community empowerment is about fostering the conditions that convince local people that making a difference is both possible and worth it.’ Improvement and Development Agency
  7. 7. Common cause, common values, transformation?
  8. 8. Six aspects of community development •  helping people find common cause • helping people work together • building organisations’ strength and independence • building equity, inclusiveness, participation and cohesion • empowering people to influence and transform • advising and informing public authorities
  9. 9. You always have to ask who benefits…
  10. 10. Arnstein’s ladder of participation
  11. 11. A few recent milestones: •  1999: Social Exclusion Unit report on community self-help • 2001: Community Empowerment Fund worth £36m • 2003 funds merged into ‘single community programme’ • 2005 launch of Together We Can • 2007 Action Plan for Community Empowerment • 2009 Duty to Involve … how much more empowered are we than in 1999?
  12. 12. And is this where it ends up?
  13. 13. Or this? ‘ Involving communities are key to unlocking greater savings - when it comes to finding efficiencies, empowering local people is part of the solution, not part of the problem.’ Hazel Blears, May 2009
  14. 14. Is it the government’s job?
  15. 15. The legislative framework 2007: Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act • Duty to inform, consult and involve • Duty to cooperate 2009 Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act • Reinforces duty to involve ‘ The core aim of the duty to involve is to make it standard practice for a local authority and their partners to empower and engage local people through their delivery of local services, and local decision-making’
  16. 16. A framework for local government National indicators on involvement • percentage of people from different backgrounds who believe people get on well together locally • percentage of people who feel they belong to their neighbourhood • level of local civic participation • percentage of people who feel they can influence decisions locally •  overall general satisfaction with the local area • participation in regular volunteering • environment for a thriving third sector
  17. 17. What is an empowering authority? • Local forums or community assemblies? • Devolved budgets or participatory budgeting? • Local action teams? • Grants for community groups? • Regular surveys and citizens’ panels? • Neighbourhood management or local service agreements? Improvement and Development Agency
  18. 18. Improving community development
  19. 19. Some current debates Progressive Conservatism: ‘Big society, small state’ Social capital - bonding versus bridging? Self-help or laissez-faire? National accounts of wellbeing
  20. 20. Resilience - a new narrative? Citizens must be better informed and able to navigate and understand an increasing complex world – utilising local social networks, technology and social media are key ingredients in achieving this aim. We need to be more other-regarding and willing to take voluntary, collective action to address social problems – understanding the conditions under which more altruistic and voluntary action takes place is more important than ever. RSA Connected Communities programme
  21. 21. What’s all this got to do with business?
  22. 22. It’s business, but not business as usual
  23. 23. Creative destruction? The financial, social and environmental recession • Public sector net debt expected to reach 77.7% of GDP by 2014/2015 (HM Treasury) • Only 35% feel they can influence local decisions (DCLG citizenship survey 2009) • By 2050 our carbon emissions must be 80% below 1990 levels (Climate Change Act 2008)
  24. 24. Sustainable development: not OR, but AND Sustainable growth .. refers to economic growth that can be sustained and is within environmental limits , but also enhances the environment and social welfare , and avoids greater extremes in future economic cycles. HM Treasury
  25. 25. Getting there - the Ahwahnee Principles ‘ Prosperity in the 21st Century will be based on creating and maintaining a sustainable standard of living and a high quality of life for all. To meet this challenge, a comprehensive new model is emerging which recognises the economic value of natural and human capital.’
  26. 26. Back to resilience ‘ If councils don’t rethink their approach now, they could doom true economic development and postpone recovery from the recession.’ Three aspects of a resilient economy: commercial, public and social Centre for Local Economic Strategies
  27. 27. What would happen if we applied community development values to the local economy?
  28. 28. Might it look a bit like this?
  29. 29. From social capital to social entrepreneurship Social enterprises are businesses driven by a social or environmental purpose. There are 62,000 of them in the UK, contributing over £24bn to the economy, employing approximately 800,000 people. Social Enterprise Coalition
  30. 31. A localised economy
  31. 32. Asset based community development ‘ Community empowerment facilitated by the transfer of genuine assets from local authorities to the third sector for community benefit.’ Development Trusts Association
  32. 34. What next for local government? • Asset transfer? • Social enterprise support? • Rethinking inward investment strategies? • Local economic assessments as a creative tool for community development?
  33. 35. Tools and resources Arnstein’s ladder of participation The Community Development Challenge (DCLG) Network of empowering authorities (IDEA) The LEAP partnership approach to community development DCLG empowerment policy The Ahwahnee Principles for economic development The Development Trusts Association: asset-based community development Sustainable Development Commission debate on economic growth Community resilience: The RSA’s Connected Communities programme Economic resilience: Towards a new wave of local economic activism (CLES)
  34. 36. More from me… Twitter: @ juliandobson @ newstartplus www. nsplus .co. uk www. newstartmag .co. uk http:// livingwithrats . blogspot .com

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