Localism and the Big Society

Government policy alone is not enough to deliver good homes. We need a detailed public inquiry into how people live and what homes we need now and in the future.

The government has recently revealed its new housing strategy. While it has made improvements in several important areas of its strategy, there is still much that is lacking. Rebecca Roberts-Hughes, Policy Manager for the Royal Institute of British Architects argues that it is of central importance that new homes are of adequate size and properly equipped in order to ensure […]

Modern chambers of commerce need more fire in the belly in their relationships with government.

Professor Bob Bennett traces the history of chambers of commerce from their inception in the 18th century to the present day. What started as a movement seeking concessions from the elite has morphed into an institution closely partnered with government. While modern chambers of commerce have lost much of the spirit with which they were founded, they still serve an […]

There is a woeful lack of affordable homes in rural areas. Greater leadership from local authorities to encourage more locally-initiated sustainable development may offer a first step towards more affordable homes.

Faced with a growing population, one of the most important questions facing policy makers in the UK is: Where will people live? With some waiting decades for affordable homes in some towns, this question is as important to rural areas as it is to cities. James Derounian reflects on the difficulties facing local communities in providing more affordable rural housing and […]

Local government finance reform will create winners and losers but could help engage communities and strengthen democracy

Jonathan Carr-West notes that the plans for localism promise to give councils real power to engage communities and strengthen local democracy, but the prospect of regional variance and inequality will test the government’s true commitment to the cause. There’s a row brewing over the government’s plans to reform town hall financing. Announced before Christmas the plans, which received a second […]

Parish, town and community councils are genuinely democratic vehicles for translating fine words about localism into reality.

Recent debates on the government’s flagship localism policy have tended to focus on the reform of the planning system and the devolution of powers to local councils and elected mayors. James Derounian argues that the role that parish and town councils can play in delivering localism has been mostly overlooked. To deliver real localism, government must encourage principal authorities to […]

Front-line workers in local government are no longer ‘street level bureaucrats’ but instead act as ‘civic entrepreneurs’ to make order out of chaos for their communities.

In the 1970’s academic Michael Lipsky coined the term ‘street level bureaucracy’ to describe how front-line workers in the public sector form a vital part of the policy-making community. Catherine Durose shows how contemporary notions of civic entrepreneurship have evolved in the UK, providing a source for innovation in local governance by tapping into the flexibility and relationship-building skills of […]

Without a greater focus on education, the government’s strategy of transferring more power to cities may struggle to deliver growth.

Only 1 of the 8 largest places outside London has an income above the national average, something the government’s new urban growth strategy aims to address. Tim Leunig argues that while the new strategy of transferring more powers from Westminster to cities is sound in principle, more still needs to be done at local level to ensure that cities deliver […]

Unlike the Scots and the Welsh, Londoners seem content with limited devolution and weak mayoral powers- at least, for now.

2012 is set to be a big year for London, with the upcoming London Mayoral elections and Olympic Games. Ahead of the first London Policy Conference next week, Guy Lodge finds that, unusually for a devolved region, neither the Mayoral candidates nor the public are seeking further devolved powers. This week Ken Livingstone tried to regain the initiative in the […]