Give communities more power over local assets and a £2bn support fund, report urges

(Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Community groups should be given greater power over local assets and a £2bn Community Wealth Fund should be set up to support local devolution, according to a new report. 

Renewing Neighbourhood Democracy, published by the think tank Localis, sets out measures to give local communities the powers they need to improve their areas. 

The paper calls on central government to make it easier for communities to take control of local services, assets and social infrastructure.

Local councils should also be given a statutory role in community relations, acting as a single point of contact and information, the paper says

The document says the government’s forthcoming white paper on devolution and community rights should give communities more of a say over local assets and social infrastructure. 

It recommends that all assets that qualify as having community value under the current system should be designated as social infrastructure.

If a community group decides to take on a community asset, it should be supported to do so, the report says. 

The paper also repeats calls for a £2bn Community Wealth Fund, an independent endowment that would target the social and civic infrastructure of marginalised communities over a 10- to 15-year period. 

In his review of how the government could make the most of the voluntary sector in the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservative MP Danny Kruger suggested a £2bn Levelling Up Communities Fund that would support local communities with funds from dormant insurance accounts. 

The Localis paper also calls for an urgent government review into the financial support provided for voluntary sector organisations during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jonathan Werran, chief executive of Localis, said: “If this is to be a teachable moment, then we must place greater trust in our communities to provide the impetus for social renewal and economic recovery.

“This must mean a genuine commitment from government for double devolution under which communities receive full powers and support to develop greater genuine autonomy and assume control for scripting their own local destinies.”

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