The National Lottery’s Community Fund used ourSocial Fabric Indexto assess the impact of their spending. In theirImpact Report, the National Lottery showed that the local areas with the lowest 10% of Social Fabric, as measured by our Index, received 16% of their funding over the past four financial years.
Speaking in Parliament, JonathanGullis MP (Stoke-on-Trent North) mentionedLost Learning, a report he co-authored with Onward, where we argued for the use of multi-academy trusts as the engine of school improvement.
Writing forThe Yorkshire Post, Jackie Weaver drew on findings from our latest report,Double Devo, in an article about how parish councils can help level up England.
This is a private roundtable event with Dr Luke Evans MP and Rt Hon Damian Green MP. The discussion will focus on the ways in which nutrition literacy can be improved in low-income communities, and how this will enable better health outcomes in these areas, in line with the National Health Strategy.
Dec 09, 08:30-10:00 (private event, invitation only)
This is a private breakfast for Onward’s Business Network, with Lord Gavin Barwell and Tom Newton Dunn, providing an opportunity for business leaders to discuss the current political and policy environment.
Up and down the country, councillors and clerks are working with their communities to protect and improve the places they live. But they are doing so with one hand tied behind their back, with fewer powers and resources than other forms of local government. This system undercuts the impressive work that town and parish councils already do to help their communities take ownership of their place. It is time that we recognised their potential and gave them the powers and resources to take back control.
This is partly about money. Of course, parish and town councils can raise money through the local precept, an additional levy on top of council tax that raised nearly £600 million last year. But the small sums of money this generates are rarely enough for the town and parish councils to lead genuinely transformative regeneration in their area.
In our recent report, Double Devo, we recommended that town and parish councils that had set a vision for the community through a neighbourhood plan should have access to more funding. Our proposed reforms to the Infrastructure Levy would give town and parish councils an extra £175,000 a year. That money could resource new community facilities or be used to upgrade the built environment.
But it is about more than money too: it is about power. Even if a town or parish council has the resources and ambition, they may not have the right powers to carry them forward. The 2011 Localism Act brought with it a whole host of powers for local government, including the General Power of Competence (GPC), allowing councils to act as individuals. But if town and parish councils also want GPC rights, their clerks have to take on additional training and their council elections have a two-thirds contested quota.
This asymmetry puts town and parish councils on the back foot and pushes responsibility up to higher levels of government. To prevent town and parish councils from being sidelined, we recommend that GPC rights should be extended down to town and parish councils on the same terms as the rest of local government. This is not revolutionary, but a necessary step if local leaders are to genuinely help their areas to level up.
With the right resources and tools to take ownership of their place, the responsibilities of town and parish councils can be increased in a sustainable way. So, moving forward, communities have the allies they need and deserve to take back control of their place.
Jenevieve Treadwell, Researcher at Onward
A version of this note was published as a blog article for the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), and can be found here.
The Government has launched its fan-lead Football Governance Review, with proposals that empower fans and give local communities a greater say in how their clubs are governed.Link
Sir Peter Hendy’s independent Union Connectivity Review has been published, announcing measures like UKNET, a UK-wide transport network connecting the different nations and improving accessibility to social and economic opportunities across the Union.Link
The Department for Education has pledged to reduce persistent student absenteeism by working with local authorities and multi-academy trusts, and consulting attendance advisors that have vast expertise in education and governance.Link