Last week the Chancellor delivered the Spring Budget.
Whilst economic growth is higher than initially predicted, Philip Hammond chose to limit major public spending and stick within the austerity framework. Despite barely getting a mention in his speech, the future economic uncertainty of Brexit hung over the Budget as the Chancellor warned that there was ‘no room for complacency’ in current improved public finances.
£2bn of new funding was made available for local authorities for social care over the next three years. A new green paper on health and social care was also announced which will seek a longer-term, sustainable plan for social care funding. We will be working with our member-led network for health and wellbeing to input into this consultation.
The Chancellor also announced a new funding package to help businesses (and charities, at local government discretion) to manage business rates costs, in the face of massive opposition from retailers and his own colleagues to rates revaluation. We have been working with sector colleagues in the lead up to the budget to call for 100% mandatory rate relief and these announcements bringing concessions for small businesses, as well as pubs, strengthens our campaign ask.
Devolution got a brief mention in the Budget – with some new powers to London. The Chancellor spoke of the need for local areas to ‘control their economic destiny’ but we continue to be concerned that devolution deals are being forged with minimal engagement with civil society and local communities. Recent research from NCVO found that 84% of VCS organisations surveyed were not involved in any way in their local deal.
This spring, Locality is launching a new Commission on Localism. Chaired by Lord Kerslake, president of the LGA and former head of the civil service, this Commission will bring together politicians, community organisations and policy experts to consider the future of localism and devolution, and how to bring power closer to local people. We will be capturing innovation and ideas from across communities and the sector on what is required to truly put communities in control of their local neighbourhoods. To find out more – do get in touch at You can read Tony Armstrong’s response to the budget here.
London Estate Regeneration – Consultation Response
We recently submitted our response to the London Mayor’s draft Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration. The draft guide sets out key principles that will shape City Hall’s renewal of social housing estates in London.
The document provides a solid basis for ensuring that solutions to the capital’s burgeoning housing crisis are forged in partnership with local communities. However, we believe the guidance needs to go much further to ensure that its positive aspirations are achieved in practice. If new regeneration programmes are to achieve success where others have failed before, there needs to be a real and tangible commitment to community involvement from the very beginning, leading to a situation in which communities are empowered through asset ownership and neighbourhood management.
Locality have recommended key principles and provided examples to the Mayor’s office, which can ensure that communities are ‘partners in’, rather than ‘party to’, estate regeneration. We offered three principles which are essential to achieving this vision and ensuring the fullest possible community involvement:
- Community leadership and engagement at the heart of the programme
- Commitment to developing community ownership of assets
- Building on neighbourhood planning.
Crucially, we believe the process can be best facilitated through established community anchor organisations, who are known to the community and engage with and support a wide variety of local people.
Join us at our Parliamentary event on the Future of Community Assets
On Monday 20 March, 6.30pm- 8pm, we are bringing together politicians, funders, policy-makers and community organisations to discuss our campaign Places and Spaces: the future of community assets ownership. The event will be an opportunity to build a coalition of support for our ambitious Community Assets Investment Plan.
The event is being hosted in Parliament with speakers Louise Haigh MP, Jason McCartney MP, Vidhya Alakeson (Power to Change), and Andy Jackson (Heeley People’s Park). All Locality members are invited to attend (you will have been sent an invitation by email) and you can RSVP by filling in this booking form.
For this campaign, we’ve written a template letter you can fill out and send to your MP about Places and Spaces. The template includes information about the event in the House of Commons to encourage them to come along.