Over the last 12 years local government has faced a double whammy of the removal of power and responsibilities, along with the decimation of council budgets. Consequently, communities have also been disempowered as local government can no longer provide the kinds of financial and professional support once available – and even the most progressive local authorities tend to be dominated by top-down decision-making systems, which tend to encourage closed thinking and defensiveness.
However, there are some signs of hope: in his 2023 New Year speech, Keir Starmer promised a “huge power shift out of Westminster” that would “deliver on the demand for a new Britain.” These comments echoed some key themes explored in the 2022 ‘Brown Report’ that called for greater levels of community power and participatory democracy.
But while Labour’s newfound commitment to community empowerment is welcome, a future Labour government is likely to encounter several obstacles on its path to deliver these ambitious pledges. In Winning With Communities: Growing Empowered Communities and Empowering Local Government, a report commissioned by Compass and Labour Together, Colin Miller and Matt Scott set out the pitfalls Starmer and his party are likely to face and detail how best to overcome them.
Unlock Democracy and Compass are working together on a Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust funded project to build consensus around a new democratic settlement. With a focus on the Labour Party, other progressive parties and civil society campaigners, we are looking to create the conditions for a new 21st century democratic settlement for our nations, communities and citizens.
Read the report
Enter your email and we’ll send this report straight to your inbox!