Report calls for new era of ‘community power’

A report commissioned by Boris Johnson has called for a called a ‘Community Power Act’ to help usher in a new era, where people play an active role in their neighbourhoods. 

The report by the Conservative backbench MP Danny Kruger sets out a number of measures designed to create a new era of ‘community power’.

These include a Community Power Act, which would give local people power over the design and delivery of public services, along with a Volunteer Passport scheme, which would allow charities to find volunteers with the correct skills and experience.

The report was commissioned by the prime minister in June, when Mr Kruger was tasked with coming up with proposals to sustain the community spirit seen during lockdown.

Other recommendations include a £500m Community Recovery Fund to help charities during the crisis and a £2bn Levelling Up Communities Fund to finance long-term projects.

It also calls for an annual Neighbour Day bank holiday to celebrate communities and volunteering and paid ‘service opportunities’ for unemployed young people to work on community projects.

‘We are on the cusp of a new era of economic and social policy,’ said Mr Kruger.

‘The era just ending was governed by economic and social doctrines which have caused us to become the most regionally unequal country in the developed world, with a range of chronic social challenges. The era now opening must address these challenges by putting communities at the heart of policy making.

‘The experience of the recent crisis – the willingness of local people to step forward and collaborate, the flexibility shown by public services and the social commitment of businesses – shows what is possible. Add the extraordinary new dynamics of data and digital innovation, and a wholly new paradigm is possible in which community power replaces the dominance of remote public and private sector bureaucracies.’

Responding to the report, the chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, Peter Holbrook said: ‘Danny Kruger’s review has showed that there is no route to levelling up that does not include social enterprises. From providing jobs and opportunity in our most deprived communities, delivering high quality public services to tackling inequality, social enterprises are critical to success. We will not build back better without more and bigger social enterprises.”

“The Kruger Review has gathered evidence from across the country and shows that there are thousands of social enterprises out there delivering results on the ground. What we need now is the backing of government to take our sector to the next level.’

The chief executive of Locality, Tony Armstrong said while the prime minster has welcomed the report, he has yet to commit to acting on it.

‘The government mustn’t let the ideas and recommendations in this report drift, nor the need to work with civil society to scrutinise and implement them. Recent years have seen a merry-go-round of national reports that have called for change that have led nowhere,’ said Mr Armstrong.

‘We cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to take the urgent action our communities need. As we head into winter and all that that might bring, many of our communities and the essential organisations that support them face an incredible challenge to continue their vital work in hugely difficult circumstances. The government has real, practical opportunities to act now to strengthen our social infrastructure, bolster our community’s resilience, and embed community power for decades to come.’

The full report – Levelling Up Our Communities – is available to read here.

Photo Credit – Skeeze (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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