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Sep 4

Policy update // September 2017

Policy

Updated with more news from the Policy team including our response to the Select Committee on Civic Engagement and Citizenship, the InnoSI research programme, our final Locality Commission hearing and more on the Party Conferences.

Parliament returns to a Brexit filled agenda

As Parliament returned this week after their summer recess, perhaps unsurprisingly the main focus of parliamentary time has been on Brexit legislation. The ‘EU Withdrawal Bill’ has passed its second reading and moves into its Committee Stage, which will see further amendments and scrutiny (some 157 amendments have already been tabled, with 64 hours of debate time scheduled).

Much criticism of the Bill has been focused on the ‘Henry the VIII Powers’ included in the Bill. This allows Government to make changes to existing primary legislation through secondary legislation (i.e. with no guarantee of parliamentary time for debate and often cannot be amended). As existing EU legislation covers so many areas of public and social policy – this is highly contentious.

Whilst there is a long political road ahead in thrashing out our Brexit settlement (both here and in Brussels) – Government mustn’t ignore the key issues in our society and economy which were brought to the fore by the referendum and which need attention now. Deep divides were exposed by the referendum: an economic model which has entrenched patterns of inequality, as well as a democratic deficit which left people feeling they lack agency and a stake in their communities. We believe that key to addressing these divides is in investing in and strengthening our community infrastructure and institutions; protecting vital community assets, strengthening local economic resilience through local procurement and community economic development, and developing community agency through a reinvigorated localism agenda.

There are opportunities for Government to develop a positive, post-Brexit vision and develop resilient and sustainable communities – and we will be continuing to make this case. A House of Lord’s Select Committee on Civic Engagement and Citizenship, for example, has been set up to consider citizenship and civic engagement in a post-Brexit environment – and you can read our response to the Committee here which highlights the essential role of community anchors in the fabric of our communities.

Inquiry on the Future of Civil Society

The Civil Society Futures project is a national conversation about how English civil society can flourish in a fast changing world. Through community events, academic research and online debate, Civil Society Futures is investigating how to maximize the positive effects of civic action and provide a guide on how to release its potential to drive positive change. If you would like to feed in to Locality’s submission to their call for evidence do get in touch.

European research programme on local innovation

Over the last 18 months Locality has been part of the InnoSI research programme – a large pan-European research project funded by the European Commission, focused on innovative approaches to investing in people. The research has looked at case studies in 10 different countries for how welfare states are being transformed through innovative local initiatives, cross-sector collaboration and social action.

We produced a briefing paper highlighting pilot projects in Finland and Sweden that we think have particular lessons for us here in the UK. There are also some short videos you can watch which have been collected by community reporters, where service-users talk about their experiences and what’s worked.

The project is now drawing to a close and there is going to be a final project event in Brussels on 12 and 13 October, which is free to attend. You can find out details here or contact for more information.

Help shape our policy priorities at Locality’s Convention

At Locality, all our policy work is member-led. At Locality Convention 17, we want to go further to put the inspirational work of our members at the heart of our campaigning. So we want to hear our members’ ideas on how to create change from the ground up.

We’re looking for ideas that are innovative, practical, place-based and community-led. Ideas will be presented at our closing plenary –the winning idea, chosen by delegates, will be taken forward into our national policy and campaigning work. Find out more and submit your ideas here.

Join the Localism Commission at our final evidence hearing

The Commission on the Future of Localism was established earlier this year by Locality in partnership with Power to Change to investigate what is required to reinvigorate local democracy and empower communities.

We’re holding our third and final consultation event on the 18 September in Manchester. We’ll be focusing on devolution – and the potential of delivering ‘onward devolution’ to neighbourhoods. An evidence panel – including Ed Cox, Director IPPR North and Warren Escadale, Chief Executive of Voluntary Sector North West –will be followed by roundtable discussions with Localism Commissioners.

More details and to RSVP – please see our event page, or contact ruth.breidenbach for more information about the Localism Commission.

Locality heads to party conferences

Over the next few weeks’ politicians will also be flocking to their respective party conferences. Our chief exec Tony and policy manager Ed will be heading to Labour and Conservative Party Conferences too, using this as an opportunity for Locality to influence the parties’ policy development. We’ll be championing our key policy asks which were a key part of our general election campaigngreater community ownership of assets; renewed commitments to localism and neighbourhood governance; and the value of local organisations in public services. Keep an eye out for October’s policy blog for updates on the party conferences!

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