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Devolving Power to People & Places

Devolving Power to People & Places

About this Workstream

The UK is one of the most centralised countries of its size in the developed world, and English local government has the most circumscribed powers of any equivalent tier internationally. Despite the many merits of the Localism Act 2011, communities are still relatively powerless when it comes to shaping their local area and participating in their public services, and people no longer believe that voting will deliver the changes they require.

 

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The concentration of power and of public budgets has also produced centralised, standardised and ‘top-down’ public services that have been constructed on the premise of ‘economies of scale’. This approach places bureaucratic ‘efficiency’ and cost-cutting above quality, personalisation and social value. Too many centralised budgets responding to different metrics and different analyses of the problems that need addressing, result in policy conflict and chaotic interventions. As a result, people’s real individual and communal needs are never met.
The failures of universal services are exemplified by the protests against and the reality of the postcode lottery. In the attempt to ensure equality the same thing is given to everybody regardless of need, so people’s true needs are never met. Instead we need a new place based integrated system of public service delivery. Locality is not a coincidence for the real individual, but central to their identity and experience. Thus real people have to be treated as part of their homes, and part of the communities they live and work in: geography matters. The bad luck is not that of the individual born into the ‘deprived area’ but the disadvantaged community itself. Deprivation is a communal and systemic problem, and thus has to be solved holistically, that is to say solved communally. Only an approach that deals with problems and the many factors driving them, at the level and place that they exist has any hope of working.

We need a new constitutional settlement based on the principle of subsidiarity and place based service delivery, whereby communities and individuals can be the real agents for change in their local area and genuine participants and owners of their local assets, businesses and public services. Public services and neighbourhoods should be governed and shaped from the ‘bottom up’, harnessing community and locally-integrated budgets to deliver the best outcomes to people and their places. Services must be tailored to the specific needs of areas and individuals. Personalisation of public services and budgets should be harnessed to this end, and both people and local partners should be empowered to meet the needs of those with complex and deep-seated problems. Civil society and intermediary institutions, such as schools, faith groups, local clubs and businesses, are crucial means to achieving this outcome, and the role of governing bodies from mayoralties, cities and local authorities through to parish councils and neighbourhood forums are key agents to meeting this goal and closing Britain’s democratic deficit.

Projects
A new devolved future for Britain’s mid-size cities

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Projects
  • Comments Off on Britain’s Diplomatic Strength: Harnessing soft power in a post-Brexit world
Britain’s Diplomatic Strength: Harnessing soft power in a post-Brexit world

ResPublica, in partnership with the British Council, is undertaking a project on soft power and the vital role of institutions in British foreign policy. Institutions...

Projects
Making social reform work for vulnerable young people

Since taking office, the new Prime Minister’s rhetoric has made clear her determination to help young people from all backgrounds to go as far as...

Credit Emancipation – Report Launch
12th September 2018

Join us at the launch of our new report on Credit Emancipation. In this report we make recommendations to address the problems of unaffordable credit,...

Escape Velocity: Growing Salford’s Creative Economy – Report Launch
14th December 2017

ResPublica is launching its latest report Escape Velocity: Growing Salford’s Creative Economy. The report makes the case for continued Government and private sector investment in...

Heartbeats on the High Street – Community Pharmacy Report Launch
20th November 2017

ResPublica is launching its latest report on Community Pharmacy in which we make the case for community pharmacies as a first port of call in...

Backing Beauty Roundtable
20th July 2016

Held on 20th July 2016 as part of the work of ResPublica’s Backing Beauty Commission, this roundtable focused on how to encourage local authority...

True North 2016: Realising the Northern Powerhouse
8th July 2016

On Friday 8th July, ResPublica’s inaugural North conference Finding True North hosted over 250 leaders from across the North at the beautiful Lowry Theatre, Salford....

The NHS and Social Care: Reducing bed-blocking and financial pressures
1st March 2016

Care Minister Rt Hon. Alistair Burt MP joins Barbara Keeley MP, Shadow Minister for Older People, Social Care and Carers, to debate the future of...

Ticket to Ride: How high speed rail for Liverpool can help realise the Northern Powerhouse
23rd February 2016

The Liverpool City Region, with its world-class port and logistics facilities, growing business community, and cultural vibrancy, has the potential to drive economic growth at...

Can city-based devolution transform the lives of the least wealthy in society?
5th October 2015

With key speaker: Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society Julia Unwin, Joseph Rowntree Foundation George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol Kindly supported by: ...

A Community Right to Beauty
23rd July 2015

ResPublica is launching its latest report: A Community Right to Beauty: Giving communities the power to shape, enhance and create beautiful places, buildings and spaces....