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Think tank calls for Community Power Act

A community’s right to influence how their public services are run and how public spaces are used should be enshrined in law, according to a new report. 

The report by think tank New Local – Community Power: The Evidence – calls for a Community Power Act to help make sure people have control over local services.

The report also highlights six key benefits of community power – improved health and wellbeing; greater community resilience; boosted democratic participation; increased community cohesion; more preventative services; and financial savings.

It also argues policymakers are failing to recognise the value of community power, partly because they are unable to measure its impact in narrow, conventional terms.

The report also calls on the Treasury to follow the example of New Zealand and adopt ‘wellbeing budgets’, which will take account of broader health and happiness, as well as narrow financial outcomes.

‘We are sitting at a critical crossroads. The case for community power has been built, and our collective yearning to build back better from a brutal pandemic means we have a new imperative to be bold,’ said New Local deputy chief executive, Jessica Studdert.

‘For the potential of community power to be fully realised, there needs to be a deep reset of power between communities and public service institutions. From the Treasury down, we need to reconsider how we judge “success” – we can no longer afford to measure tomorrow’s approaches by yesterday’s standards.’

The report was written in partnership with Local Trust.

‘As we emerge from the pandemic, the power of communities to solve problems and create change must not be forgotten,’ said Local Trust chief executive, Matt Leach.

‘To ensure all communities have equality of opportunity to engage, it is crucial we invest in the most ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods to make sure people living there have the resources and confidence to advocate for local needs, and ensure they don’t miss out once again.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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