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Nov 22

Autumn Budget 2017 response: Government must harness power that exists within our communities

Policy

It is clear from the Budget that our economy is in poor health, with growth forecasts revised downwards and average wages in decline. The Government seems to have few answers that meet the scale of the challenge, beyond investment in traditional infrastructure and tax giveaways that will disproportionately benefit those on higher incomes.

But while Westminster struggles to get a grip and offer clear direction, all across the country, enterprising communities are getting on with the business of solving their own problems and driving their own neighbourhoods forward. We believe that the key task for the Government is to harness this ‘power of community’ and create a more supportive environment for the community organisations to do what they do best.

For example, the Chancellor announced a much-needed emergency cash injection for the NHS to cope with rising demand. Because they are locally rooted and trusted, community organisations can provide the person-centred services that will reduce this long-term burden on our public services, improving people’s lives and creating savings for the public purse at the same time.

The Chancellor also announced support for small businesses, in a bid to strengthen the economy’s “backbone”. However, he forgot to mention the small charities which work interdependently with the local private sector and play a vital economic role. As our recent report Powerful Communities, Strong Economies showed, community organisations employ local people and use local supply chains, creating good jobs and keeping money circulating around the local economy. This is particularly vital in poorer communities which have been “left behind” by globalisation.

We want to see the Government set out a clear strategy for how it will draw upon and strengthen the huge power that exists within our communities – convening government action, maximising limited resources and building strong local partnerships – so together we can create a fair society where every community thrives.

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