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Local authorities support greater power to residents in face of funding cuts

November 2015

The overwhelming majority of local authority members, residents and volunteers want to see more collaboration between local authorities and communities, according to survey results commissioned by the charity Local Trust, released today Tuesday 3rd November.

Greater involvement of residents was also selected as the best potential solution to the current concerns about delivering public services with reduced funding, ahead of involving local businesses and charities or sharing best practice.

The survey results provide compelling insights into the value of enabling residents within community development and explore how communities benefit from pioneering new collaborations.

Local Trust’s survey results found that:

  • 81% of local authority members and 97% of residents agree that their local community could be improved if there was a greater input from residents.
  • 40% of local authority members identified working closely with residents as the best potential solution to the current concerns about reduced public service funding, with 51% of residents reporting the same.
  • 60% of local authorities believe that a collaborative, resident-led approach is currently feasible in their area, and 67% of residents agree.

Both parties cite different expectations as a barrier to working together successfully (70% local authorities and 67% residents), along with a lack of understanding of each other’s priorities (58% local authorities and 82% residents/volunteers).

In total, 63% local authorities and 80% residents agreed that the opportunity to discuss solutions together was an important way to overcome these challenges. More than half of all respondents agreed that barriers to collaboration could be overcome if there was greater open mindedness on both sides (54% local authorities, 64% residents).

Local Trust, which supports communities across England to create lasting change, jointly commissioned the survey with New Start magazine, to find out how local authorities and residents can work together more effectively. The survey coincides with a roundtable discussion at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) being hosted by Local Trust, exploring the benefits and challenges of local authorities and residents working together.

Debbie Ladds, chief executive at Local Trust, said:

‘These findings demonstrate huge support for greater collaboration between residents and local authorities. We believe that those who make up the community know best what's needed and are most likely to come up with the solutions to make a lasting positive difference to the places where they live, work and socialise. In a way, residents are the best kept secret when it comes to driving change in the community, and it’s encouraging to see this potential recognised. But in order to work together, there needs to be a mutual understanding of different perspectives and more opportunities to get to know each other’s priorities.

‘From Big Local, a long term resident-led programme in 150 communities throughout England, we know that both sides need to put in care and hard work to establish collaborative relationships – but those who get there find it is a valuable achievement. Some of the most successful collaborations occur when council officers support Big Local projects as observers and advisors.'

Sue Miller, a resident involved in the Big Local programme in Whitley Bay, said:

‘I’ve worked for local authorities, which gives me an understanding of the pressures they face, and I also volunteer for Big Local. In our area, we set up regular meetings with our local authority, which was a conscious decision because there had often been a lot of tension between local authorities and local people in the past. The meetings have helped improve communication and there is a greater level of understanding of how important Whitley Bay is to residents. There’s a passion among local people for the town, and it’s really rewarding to see the benefits of working together with local authorities– it feels much more like a partnership now.’

A summary of the RSA discussion will be published on the Local Trust website: www.localtrust.org.uk. Attendees represent a cross-section of government, academic and voluntary sectors.

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Forster Communications

Georgie Howlett, Dawn Driscoll or Ruby Maguire – 0207 403 2230

Email – georgie@forster.co.uk / dawn@forster.co.uk / ruby@forster.co.uk

About the survey

The survey was conducted by Local Trust in partnership with New Start and took place between 16 October and 26 October. There were 203 respondents, 39 of which identified as people who volunteer locally (which we have referred to as residents) and 67 who identified as working for their local authority. In this release we have examined the viewpoints of local authorities and residents – other respondents included 71 who identified as working for a charity/voluntary organisation, and 26 identified as none of the above. If you are interested in these findings, please contact us directly.

Local Trust / Big Local

Local Trust is a unique organisation supporting resident and community led solutions to create lasting change throughout England. We use a community development approach to resident and community led regeneration of areas. We believe that those who make up the community know best what’s needed and are the most likely to come up with the solutions to make a lasting positive difference to the places where they live, work and socialise. We also believe that we can help them to make that happen, working with a range of partners nationally and locally.

We are the corporate trustee of Big Local Trust and manage the expendable endowment from the Big Lottery Fund that funds the Big Local programme.

Big Local is an exciting opportunity for residents in 150 areas around England to receive funding and support over up to 15 years to make a massive and lasting positive difference to their communities. The trust deed that governs Big Local Trust requires spend of £220m by 13 February 2027. Big Local targets areas that may not have been successful in gaining funding and resources in the past. Each Big Local area is receiving at least £1 million over at least 10 years, along with support, training, and networking opportunities, to help residents develop plans to improve their area and to enable them to find solutions that work for their community.

More information is available at www.localtrust.org.uk. For enquiries about Local Trust or Big Local please call 020 3588 0565 or email: info@localtrust.org.uk.

Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invests over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 it has awarded over £8 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.

Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £34 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

Big Lottery Fund website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

New Start

New Start is the magazine for making better places: www.newstartmag.co.uk

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