Localism: a hot issue in politics and policy

Charlotte Stuffins blogs about policy. Charlotte no longer works for NCVO but her posts have been archived on this site.

So what is localism all about?

When the localism agenda was introduced back in 2010, it was hailed by the Government as:

A ground-breaking shift in power to councils and communities, overturning decades of central government control”.

These principles have since been enshrined in the Localism Act, passed in November 2011.

The new measures set-out in the Act have the potential to give increased flexibility and control to local areas, allowing them to respond best to the needs of communities. The Act is particularly relevant to the voluntary sector because:

  • The vast majority of voluntary organisations have relationships with government at a local rather than at a national level.
  • Localism is about bringing people together to build up their own community – which is an activity that the voluntary sector has been undertaking for years.
  • Localism is also about transforming local services and institutions so that they better suit the needs of a specific area, and voluntary organisations are of course, already responsive to the needs of the local people they serve.

If you would like a fuller definition of the concept localism, then take a look at this blog I wrote back in August.

Below are seven elements of the localism agenda that should be considered when looking at the likely effects that the Localism Act will have on the voluntary sector, and British society as whole.

The seven wonders of localism

  1. Could the spending cuts limit the effectiveness of the Localism Act given their negative impact on the capacity of the voluntary sector?
  2. Will localism be able to deliver equality and fairness?
  3. How can (and why should) communities of interest be included in the localism agenda?
  4. What should the ongoing role of central government be in localism?
  5. Does localism present an opportunity for increased government accountability?
  6. What would an ‘end goal’ or vision of successful localism look like?
  7. How useful will the new rights in the Localism Act (Right to Challenge/ Community Assets) be to the voluntary sector?

Want to find out more?

Whether the localism agenda has already impacted on your organisation’s work, is an agenda you follow closely or simply something you have heard about but don’t know how it would apply to you; it’s worth finding out more about localism. It’s likely to have widespread implications for the voluntary and community sector and it’s unlikely to just be a passing trend.

If you want to know how your organisation can seize the opportunities (and prepare for any challenges) presented in the localism agenda, there is an afternoon workshop at NCVO’s annual conference on 5th March entitled “Hot issues in politics and policy”. It will be led by our Policy, Research and Foresight experts Karl Wilding, Nick Wilson-Young and James Allen. It’s filling up fast, so book your place here.

In addition, one of NCVO’s key policy areas is localism. As part of our on-going  policy review, we have a member-only discussion group on the social networking site yammer, where lots of our members discussed localism in the summer. As a result of this input, NCVO will be publishing its refreshed policy lines on localism in the coming months.

Drop me an email or tweet me if you would like any further information on this work.

Charlotte Stuffins

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