This weekend [20/07/19], the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a new Communities Framework outlining the government’s vision for building stronger communities.
The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a major opportunity to tackle inequality and invest in places which often feel forgotten.
- Tony Armstrong

Tony Armstrong, Locality Chief Executive, said: “The Communities Framework is a welcome statement of intent from government. It showcases the evidence of what we in the community sector see every day – the transformative impact of the power of community.

“At Locality, we believe that community organisations provide critical solutions to the big economic, social and environmental challenges we face. The key task for policymakers is to create an environment which supports them to be strong and successful and helps them drive positive social change in our neighbourhoods.

“The Communities Framework recognises that ‘communities want more power and control’, yet many of the opportunities to advance localism and community power over the last few years are being missed. This framework must be a launchpad for a more ambitious direction – to revitalise this country’s social infrastructure and puts communities in control.

“With a new prime minister imminent, it’s absolutely critical that the ‘national conversation’ and Communities White Paper the framework announces provide concrete policy commitments and significant funding to match the scale of the task.

“Locality has been calling for a Community Ownership Fund that can do just that. Kickstarted by central government and drawing on new Dormant Assets funding, it would provide communities with the support they need to take on ownership of important local buildings and spaces. Community ownership is a vital route for capitalising communities and giving local people a stake in shaping the places that matter to them.

“We are encouraged by the announcement of the Civic Deal pilots. These suggest the government recognises the importance in investing in social infrastructure and building local capacity at the neighbourhoods. We look forward to hearing more detail and working with government to develop the pilots – and ensuring this approach helps shape the substance of the Communities White Paper and the government’s wider policy agenda.

“Yet, one of the most crucial and pressing opportunities to strengthen our communities is missing from the framework. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a major opportunity to use EU replacement funds to tackle inequality and invest in places which often feel forgotten.

“However, we are still waiting for a public consultation on the UKSPF. Meanwhile, there is a real danger that the funds will follow spending patterns which benefit already prosperous areas and be managed by unaccountable business networks through Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

“Our Communities in Charge campaign, a coalition with local organisations, Cooperatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Power to Change, is campaigning that at least a quarter of the fund should go directly to local people to invest in their own priorities for the economy.”