As one of the key community rights envisaged in the 2011 Localism Act, the Community Right to Bid came into force on September 21st. The new legislation gives people the chance to bid, to buy and take over the running of assets that are of value to the local community, such as village shops, community and children’s centres, library buildings and local pubs. The right can be exercised by local voluntary and community groups, parish councils and neighbourhood fora.
Communities Minister Don Foster said:
"For too long communities have been shut out, forced to watch from the sidelines as treasured local assets, vital in peoples daily lives, have been shut-down and sold on. We are determined to put an end to that and put people back at the centre of the future of their communities.
"The Community Right to bid lets communities decide what's important to them and 'stop the clock' on sales so they have them the time to get together a bid, put together a plan and ensure that prized local assets can live on, this time run by the local community for the local community."
ResPublica first proposed the initiative in the November 2010 report To Buy, To Bid, To Build: Community rights for an asset-owning democracy, where six community asset rights were put forward: community rights to buy, to build, to try, to bid, to work and to know. The report outlines 10 strategies to enable community groups to buy assets, thus creating a new form of entrepreneurship that will help to create asset redistribution and lead to a fairer society.
When launching the publication in 2010, ResPublica Director Phillip Blond said that enabling communities to bid for, buy and run local enterprises was one of three core strategies aimed at breaking open markets, the other two being Pathways to Work, which would enable local people on benefits to work in local enterprises and keep more of the money they earn, and the extension to community social enterprises of opportunities to bid for public sector contracts, the majority of which currently go to monopoly private sector providers at regional and national level. He also highlighted the crucial role of community rights in reversing the current massive inequalities in UK asset distribution.
ResPublica welcomes the Community Right to Bid and supports further initiatives to advance the decentralisation of power to local communities.
As part of ResPublica's Models and Partnership for Social Prosperity workstream, ResPublica is shortly due to publish a report entitled Acting on Localism: Putting the social into the local through housing associations, which sets out to explore the potential opportunities for, and remaining barriers to, a more successful and radical localism.