All politics is local

Project Details

Underlying the recent rejection of past decades’ political certainties is the belief among many communities that they have been cut off from the wider country. The UK’s economic divisions are widely acknowledged, but inequalities of education and health outcomes also abound, and prospects for social mobility vary across the country. The language and content of political debate is fragmented, and too many people feel powerless to influence their own lives and the place where they live.

In response to these concerns, the Prime Minister has set out her vision of the “shared society”, founded on “the bonds of family, community, citizenship and strong institutions”. We share this ambition for a civic-driven and inclusive politics, but more needs to be done  to narrow the gaps between different parts of the UK, focusing on social as well as financial inequalities. Public policy should aim to create strong, vibrant communities where civil society can contribute to a sustainable national social, economic and cultural settlement, and ensure no community feels left behind in post-Brexit Britain.

Our programme of work

ResPublica is committed to exploring how public policy can contribute to the formation of strong, vibrant communities which can close the UK’s social, economic and cultural divisions. Within this programme, our areas of focus will include:

  • Public service reform: Too often, public services fail to meet the needs of those citizens who are in greatest need of support. Building on our seminal work on this topic from previous reports such as Devo Max – Devo Manc, we will examine how local authorities can reorient service design and delivery around local circumstances and pursue an effective early intervention strategy to save money and improve outcomes. We will also consider the crucial role of civil society in shaping and delivering this agenda.
  • Education: The Government’s 2017 Spring Budget placed education at the heart of its vision for social reform. To ensure Britain’s young people can fulfil their potential in formal education and beyond, high-quality schools and early education must be available to children from all backgrounds, and the transition into employment must be given greater consideration. A thriving teaching profession, and steps to embed schools at the heart of their communities and regional economies, must be the basis for this vision.
  • Placemaking and local assets: Communities must be empowered to engage positively with the process by which their place changes and evolves. Our previous research, through publications such as A Community Right to Beauty, has established the social and economic benefits of positive engagement by local people in shaping their area; following our work on the community rights agenda and the Localism Act during the Coalition Government, we will examine where this agenda will go next.
  • Health and social care: The financial and demand pressures facing the NHS and social care are a symptom of the long-term transformation of our health service towards one rooted in the management of chronic rather than short-term illness. There is an ongoing need to build up community-based services to address this change; we will continue to examine the options to achieve this, building on our analysis in our 2016 report Care after Cure.

Work with us

ResPublica is working with our partners to address the challenges and opportunities we have outlined above. Through our thought-leading publications and curated events, we are helping to shape the national debate. To discuss how your organisation can partner with us, please contact our Community programme lead Duncan Sim on