Bringing localism to life

On the eve of the final Committee debate on the Localism Bill in the House of Commons, Civic Voice and Ipsos MORI have today published a new report that examines the key opportunities and concerns of the potential new law.

“The drive towards localism has huge potential to tap into people’s passion for the place where they live but needs to be fair for everyone and back communities with the support they will need.” This is the key finding of a new report published today by Civic Voice and Ipsos MORI.  Civic societies and localism summarises a discussion between civic societies and the Minister of State for Decentralisation, Greg Clark MP.  The report is published on the eve of the final Committee debate on the Localism Bill in the House of Commons.  The Bill includes a package of new community rights, including a power for neighbourhood groups to prepare their own plans.  Civic societies and localism addresses some of the key opportunities and concerns about the Localism Bill. It concludes that for localism to succeed it needs to:

  • Tap into community passion: the welcome new powers for communities to shape their local area need to tap into local knowledge and passions and excite people about developing a positive vision for change
  • Learn from existing volunteers: localism will only succeed if it excites people and encourages more to get involved and there is a huge amount to learn from existing volunteers.  Key insights include:
  • Tap into ‘selfish altruism’ – encourage people to participate because it will improve their area both for themselves and for others
  • Capture interest from single-issues – once people become involved in a local issue, invite them to participate in other ways and they find it hard to say no
  • Provide more incentives to participate – giving employers/employees an incentive to donate their time would encourage more people of working age to participate and could transform the number of people who volunteer
  • Make it fair for everyone: localism should be for everyone and not be confined to those parts of the country where communities are already organised.  Data from the Citizenship Survey shows levels of participation and volunteering are currently lower in deprived areas    
  • Support communities: the key provisions for local communities to develop their own ‘neighbourhood plan’ will remain little used without communities being given expert support and guidance on how they can be prepared.

Tony Burton, Director of Civic Voice, said:

“Civic societies and other community groups are enthused by the new opportunities for people to take a lead in shaping the future of their area.  The Localism Bill is laying some of the legal ground rules but for localism to be successful it needs to excite people about their neighbourhood and support every community that wants to get more involved.”

Anna Beckett, Head of Central Government Research at Ipsos MORI:

"This day-long event gave participants a great opportunity to develop their understanding of the Localism Bill and then present their thoughts directly to the Minister. It is great that civic societies have been given the opportunity to directly input their views – particularly as organisations such as these will be at the centre of making localism a reality. "The risks identified by the civic society members are very real. Our data supports their concerns about the most deprived communities potentially being those least able to benefit from the proposed rights. It will be interesting to see the extent to which the final laws and guidance notes reflect the concerns raised here.”  

Notes to Editors

  • On 10th February 2011, ten members of civic societies across Kent met for a day-long workshop in Tunbridge Wells. The workshop, commissioned by Civic Voice, was facilitated by Ipsos MORI. After hours of deliberation, discussing a range of aspects of localism and the provisions of the Localism Bill, the participants presented their conclusions to the Minister of State for Decentralisation (and Tunbridge Wells MP), Greg Clark MP.  The report of the workshop – Civic societies and localism – can be downloaded free from
  • Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement.  We work to make the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive and to promote civic pride.  We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England.  We believe everyone has the right to live somewhere they can be proud of.  We know how people feel about places because we feel the same way.  Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system.  Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by 275 civic societies with more than 71,000 members.   

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