The Chancellor today promised an “infrastructure revolution.” For at least a decade we have seen the hollowing out of our vital community and civic infrastructure. We need investment on a wide scale to stitch back the fabric of our neighbourhoods.
Today’s one-year spending review was firmly on an election footing. It’s not a question of if we are facing an imminent general election, but when, as efforts in parliament to block a damaging no-deal Brexit plough on.
The Chancellor’s headline spending commitments- for homelessness, schools, the NHS- are of course welcome, as is the promise of an end to austerity. But these aren’t long-term plans. Dig behind the big numbers and the position for many of our communities remains stark and uncertain. The big challenge for the government is not just how much money it is spending, but how it is spent. To truly ‘level up’, we need to unlock the power of community.
The Chancellor today promised an “infrastructure revolution.” For at least a decade we have seen the hollowing out of our vital community and civic infrastructure. Our community spaces sold off by cash strapped councils. Our vital local services cut to the bone. We need investment on a wide scale to stitch back the fabric of our neighbourhoods. This is why Locality have been leading calls for a £1bn Community Ownership Fund – to invest in our community spaces and boost community ownership.
For too long our economic model has not benefitted all communities equally. The current government’s commitments to Towns Fund is a small part of tackling this. But it doesn’t address the profound lack of power and ownership that has been felt by many communities excluded from prosperity for years. We need significant funding devolved to local partnerships – to give local places the means to set their own priorities and drive the change in their own neighbourhoods. And when we finally get a consultation on the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund (notably missing today) – we need government to heed our ‘Communities in Charge’ campaign and devolve the power and resources to transform local economies to local people.
We are living in a time of extreme political uncertainty. But what is certain is we need to urgently re-examine our stale political settlement. Whoever might be Prime Minister in a few weeks’ time, we need them to commit to a radical devolution framework and a rejuvenated localism agenda to unlock the power in our communities.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Locality