How can we support everyone to build greater resilience into their lives and communities and face the future with increased confidence?
Covid-19 reveals what happens when you remove the mechanisms that used to allocate public funding to local areas on the basis of need. Poorer places and communities received the biggest funding cuts and have now been the hardest hit by the pandemic. Fair mechanisms of distributing support are needed now more than ever not only to support the recovery but also to increase the resilience of people and places to future shocks.
We need a rebalancing of power between the state and citizens.
What we heard...
“Being in the places where conversations are happening, places we need to listen to - prepare for the future the right way.”
“We have to develop new government structures...We’re the most centralised government in Europe - we haven’t worked out how we transfer power locally. This will be a growing frustration over the coming 10 years.”
Jez Hall, director, Shared Future CIC, Greater Manchester
“There’s a big expectation that government will do everything. But we as a group of individuals have the power to go and connect with our neighbours and connect and make things happen. We can start changing our communities… The ultimate goal would be for the space to be self-sustaining, less reliant on funding.”
Adam Billington, creative director and grounds manager, Gatis Community Space, Wolverhampton
Stats and facts
- 80 percent of people agree that too much in our country is decided in London
Source: Britian's Choice: Common Ground and Division in 2020s Britain, More in common, M Juan-Torres et al (2020)
There are range of things people felt would imporve their local community with better access to mental health (33 percent), spaces and services for young people (31 percent) and employemnt support (29 percent) rated some of the highest.
Food for thought
“Just about every aspect of our current national impasse proves that the old centralised game is up, and that England needs a new constitutional settlement. Power needs to be taken from the centre and dispersed: the future needs to be founded on a huge boost to councils’ share of the tax take, the devolution of everything from health to transport, and fully localised responses to any future emergencies.”
The pandemic has exposed the failings of Britain's centralised state, John Harris, The Guardian (25 May 2020)
“The weakness of local government is also notable. Despite herculean efforts by local leaders and some extra money being put back into them, decades of underfunding, stripping of powers and most recently austerity have left them very weak in the face of this crisis. Instead of becoming the real local hubs for coordinating public, private and civil society efforts, they have been relatively powerless and denuded of capacity. They have neither the powers nor the resources to act as effectively as they could. Nor, and this crucial, to develop local responses to the local nature of the crisis. One-size-fits-all solutions imposed from Whitehall are a clumsy response at local levels – something proper local government could have helped solve.”
Government has centralised the coronavirus response – but there's a role for the local too, Colin Talbot, Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester (2020)
“There’s pretty good cross-country data that [shows that] decentralisation tends on average to be more closely associated with both stronger growth and better public services; that is not very detailed decentralisation, but a more federated system.”
Sharon White, former second permanent secretary, UK Treasury (2015)