Community-owned or merely ‘based’ in the community?
August 18, 2011
Public sector cuts are threatening the resilience of community-led regeneration, according to Rob Rowlands & Mike Beazley
Cast your mind back ten years. Labour ministers were trumpeting the investment in community-based organisations as the way forward for embedded housing-led regeneration.
Now come back to the present, to an era of deep public sector cuts. Is this community approach as embedded as we thought? What do the cuts really mean for frontline services in community-based organisations? And what do the effects of cuts in these organisations mean for the local communities they serve?
While it is too early to provide a detailed account of this, early evidence from areas that we have been working in suggests that these organisations have not been as embedded as they could or would like to be.
The early evidence of some cuts suggests that community-based regeneration might be a less resilient model than was previously suggested or promised. Ongoing – albeit tapering – support is required, together with a diversification of income sources to make these programmes sustainable.
Imagine then an estate-based regeneration project, a task-and-finish programme focussed around a community-based housing organisation. The regeneration programme received considerable public subsidies over a 15-year period and drew in a significant amount of private resources. A community-based housing association was set up to which the local authority owned housing stock was transferred, its community focus designed to see off opposition to the perceived privatisation of council housing.
Its aim was to be shaped and run ‘as far as possible’ by the residents and today the regeneration defines its success as the provision of innovative neighbourhood management delivered through its strong resident-led capacity. It identifies the retention and reuse of assets within the local area as a significant strength.